The pelvic position you choose when doing The Hundred (and really any Pilates exercise), determines which muscles are actually working during the exercise.
The Hundred can feel like "The Thousand" if you’re not in the right position.
If you ever feel sore in your low back after a pilates class, it’s likely because your pelvic position needs a little tweaking.
Use this guide to find the best position for you while doing The Hundred.
First, let’s discuss the orientations of the pelvis while lying supine(on your back):
1) Anterior pelvic tilt*
- Your pelvis is in an anterior tilt when your 2 hip points are higher than your pubic bone.
- This causes your low back to extend or lift away from the ground.
- The muscles in your back do a majority of the work in this position.
*In anatomy terms, anterior means toward the front of the body. Hip points forward = anterior
2) Posterior pelvic tilt**
- Your pelvis is in a posterior tilt when your 2 hip points are closer to the ground than your pubic bone.
- This causes your low back to sink toward the ground
- Your lower abdominal muscles do a majority of the work in this position.
**In anatomy, posterior means toward the back of the body. Hip points back = posterior
3) Neutral pelvis
- Your pelvis is in a neutral position when your 2 hip points and your pubic bone are level.
- Neutral is the ideal position for your pelvis during the hundred.
Why? To put it as simply as possible: When working in neutral, all the muscles around the pelvis and lumbar region will recruit equally. And the natural curvature of your spine travelling from your tail toward your skull will flow upward when in neutral.
Finding neutral is really like magic for your body. Your hips and spine are happiest when neutral. I’m kinda obsessed with it. Once I understood how to find neutral and work from neutral, my dancer’s hip pain went away, my knees stopped aching. And I didn’t need a pill. MAGIC!!!
Disclaimer: The anatomical neutral is not always ideal for every body on any given day. But it is something to strive toward.
Find YOUR neutral pelvis. Try this now:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat
- Create a triangle shape with your hands on your pelvis: Place the heels of your hands on your hip points and your fingertips on your pubic bone.
- Don’t adjust your pelvis. Simply notice the natural position of your pelvis when you first lie down.
- Move to a posterior pelvic tilt. Curl your tail under and feel your lumbar spine sink into the ground.
- Move to neutral. Rock your pelvis to a neutral by leveling off the hip points and pubic bone
- Move to an anterior pelvic tilt. Shift the weight toward the tailbone and feel your low back arch away from the ground.
- repeat 5 repetitions moving from posterior to neutral to anterior.
- Come to a neutral pelvis and remain there. If it feels like you’re low back is working to maintain the true neutral, head toward the posterior position until you find a place that feels like you’re relaxed. Tah-dah! That is where you’ll want to work from during the hundred. That is YOUR neutral.
This exercise feels great on the back. I love to do this at the end of the day to allow my spine to decompress.
The most important thing to remember while working on finding neutral is that neutral should come from a relaxed place. If it feels like work at all to maintain a true anatomical neutral pelvis, head toward the posterior position. Find a place where it doesn’t feel like a strain on your back to do the hundred.
From day to day YOUR neutral may be a little different. Listen to your body and find the best position for you. Next time you’re in class be mindful of your pelvic position. If you’re unsure or want more instruction in regards to the pelvic position that is best for you, I’m happy to help you. If you don’t work with me, ask your Pilates instructor for guidance.
If you’re working with any special issues in your spine (disc issues, spinal surgery, low back pain, etc.). Seek clearance from your doctors and guidance from your teachers to be sure you know what is best for you.
Next time you do The Hundred, work from your neutral. Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!