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February 12, 2014 at 1:47 am #129001
Question: Neutral and Anteverted Pelvis – When and Why?
My understanding from practicing and teaching various forms of Qigong and Tai Chi, is that the proper pelvic position is neutral, as Paul presents in the 5 Keys.
Yet, this is not the best pelvic posture for walking, lifting and sitting according to extensive research on what is often called the primal posture of human beings.
Primal posture is described as an anteverted pelvis, butt up/belt buckle down, position that is the most natural, healthy, and effective pelvic position since humans began walking. The anteverted pelvis preserves the wedge shaped L5-S1 disc. Whereas a retroverted pelvis can cause L5-S1 to bulge, herniate or sequester. In the anteverted pelvis the low back is not flat, but has a distinct curve, while the mid and upper back are flat and straight.
This primal posture is seen the world over in traditional cultures and is what allows, for example, women in Africa to carry large jugs of water on their heads, with a baby on their back and laundry bucket in their hand, while walking long distances barefoot or in sandals over open ground. It is also the posture of elite runners. It is also what we see in Greek and Egyptian statues – a pronounced lumbo-sacral angle and the relatively flat upper lumbar spine, arms hanging along the back of the torso, chin angled down, lower border of the rib cage flush with the front contour of the torso, and soft angle of the groin.
Also, it is advocated in yoga, belly down posture: press the pubic bone, hip bone, and lower abdomen into the floor.
What is going on here?
Is it simply a matter of what works best for our specific physical activity?
Thus the neutral pelvis is best for qigong and tai chi moving/fighting/moving healing Qi postures, whereas the anteverted pelvis is best for walking, running, standing, sitting, bending and carrying loads?
Is this a fundamental difference between Qigong/Tai Chi….. and Yoga/primal posture of indigenous peoples?
Paul, I would greatly appreciate your perspective and understanding of these issues.
JohnOctober 13, 2015 at 11:35 am #133981
What you describe as the primal posture of human beings is
one point of view. This “anteverted pelvis, butt up/belt buckle down,
position” you describe is due to tension setting in the body for two primary
reasons: first, the incessant use of reciprocal inhibition of the muscle groups
and, two, the lower spine/small of the back being a major junction for numerous
muscles groups that connect into this area (both surface-level and deeper in, including
the diaphragm and psoas). If you look at a young child learning to walk, its
spine and pelvis is dead flat. The human baby has a specific C-shape of its
spine-pelvis from the months spent in the womb. Over time, this area condenses,
closes down and therefore lifts the buttocks. This is accentuated in modern
culture, e.g. by heels on shoes and constantly sitting in chairs. Therefore, it
is only an opinion that this position is “good” for us. What’s bad
about this position is that the back of the pelvis and lumbar spine shorten,
the sacral iliac joints tighten and internal space for the kidneys is reduced–your
kidneys contain your life-force energy, so strangulation is not a good idea!
Also, as this area closes down, the long ligament at the back of the diaphragm
is stretched, putting the diaphragm into tension and reducing your ability to
breathe deeply. A pulling on the psoas also occurs, which restricts hip motion.
Now, if your body has been in this condition for many years, you cannot
suddenly revert to the healthy, straight spine you had as a toddler. The
process is very slow in order to release all of the bindings and allow the body
to integrate adjustments over years and possibly decades. It’s slow, gradual
change that prevents any of the issues you describe, such as with L5 and S1
discs, strained ligaments or other structural issues. Finally, when the sacrum
and tailbone are properly dropped, the tailbone penetrates the legs and
strongly roots your qi into the earth below your feet–the antidote to the effects
of technology on the human, where the brain sucks all the body’s energy
upwards, stealing it from the organs and aiding the physical distortion of the
spine and pelvis. So, to be clear, the Taoists consider that the straight-spine-pelvic
position is the ideal for all activities. And, it is the cerebrospinal fluid,
properly hydrated intervertebral discs and healthy spinal ligaments that take
any load the human being can bear directly through the legs and feet, and into
the earth.October 13, 2017 at 7:35 pm #133982
I have joined the forum to find that my exact question has already been asked by John.
I’m still not convinced by Paul’s answer. It may be possible that the posture presented in Paul’s videos is proper for qigong (I’m new), but other than that, it simply looks like… poor, weak posture: flat feet, tucked pelvis, shoulders slightly forward… It seems strange that this would be a proper posture, since it’s in the West that people have tucked pelvis and it’s the West (as opposed to the third world rural people, hunter gatherers etc.) where people suffer from back pain epidemia. Also, I don’t see babies with tucked pelvises, unless they are older and already conditioned to poor posture by sitting in strollers or baby car seats.
I am a carpenter (lots of heavy load carrying and bending involved) and I see it over and over in my line of work: guys with tucked pelvises are the ones complaining about back pain and eventually going to surgery and early retirement. I myself haven’t experienced a single day of back pain in years since I started to be careful not to tuck my pelvis.
After two weeks of practicing the Five Keys I’ve experienced lower back pain again, after many years. Still not sure what to make out of all this.
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