Tag Archives: sport posture

Partner up for pelvic position and power

Regardless of their goals, the first time I consult with a new training client, athlete or not, I want to get a good idea of what’s happening at their pelvis. After all, this is the center of their physical universe.

By evaluating the position and function of a client’s pelvis, and the musculature that moves and supports it, I can formulate a pretty accurate working image of how their body operates. This will help me to determine what weaknesses may be present, what activities are most suitable, and how I can best help the client.

Although it’s a great idea to get assessed by a trained professional, I realize not everyone has access to skilled trainers, doctors or therapists to evaluate their pelvic function. I’m hoping to give direction about a few simple partner-assisted tests that can shed some light on your own pelvic function, and possibly highlight a few areas where you might be able to improve.

I recently shared these techniques with Canada’s national champion and Olympic-hopeful beach volleyball partners, Martin Reader and Josh Binstock. Both men are very knowledgeable about athletic conditioning techniques and Josh is a chiropractor and kinesiologist himself. Since they live and train in Toronto, I wanted to be sure that these two elite athletes could monitor and assess each other’s pelvic function, which will help them to perform at their highest level.

With each of these assessments, pressure by the testing partner should be gentle, and the focus should be on identifying significant asymmetries between the two sides of the body. The person being tested should speak up instantly if any pain is felt at any time.

Rob Williams tests Josh Binstock’s pelvic alignment while volleyball partner Martin Reader observes

 

 

Hip rotation

The position and alignment of your pelvis determines the quality of your movements and whether or not they are helpful or harmful to your body. Sometimes the large bones of the pelvic ring can become slightly misaligned, which affects the amount of internal and external rotation available at the hip joints. Although it takes talented eyes and hands, or imaging technology like X-ray or MRI, to get an exact assessment of pelvic alignment, a quick test of hip rotation can sometimes be a good indicator.

Start with the test subject lying flat on their back with legs straight. The tester should grasp one leg at the knee and foot, and bring the leg into 90˚ flexion, where the knee joint is positioned directly above the hip joint as shown. With the leg in this flexed, neutral position, the tester will rotate the thigh bone internally at the hip joint (the foot swings outward) and then externally (the foot swings inward), while keeping the knee in the same place and observing the amount of rotation. Ideally the test subject should have around 70-100˚ of total rotation with roughly a 2:1 ratio of external to internal rotation (ie. 60˚ external and 30˚ internal). Any serious restrictions in motion, or significant differences between the two hips, would call for more in-depth assessment and management.

-If the glute muscles don’t contribute, the lower back and hamstrings can become too active during hip extension.”

 

Hip extension

Most of the movements we perform in our day require some amount of active hip extension. When lying face down, hip extension is required to raise a leg up off the table or floor. Ideally this action is performed in a proximal to distal sequence, meaning the muscles in the center of the body fire first to stabilize the pelvis, followed sequentially by muscles toward the extremities. To test this sequence, the test subject lies face down and the tester gently places a fist in the glute and hamstring of the leg to be tested. The subject keeps their leg straight and raises it 4-6” from the table. The tester should feel the big glute muscle fire to initiate the lift before the distal hamstring engages. If the hamstring fires before the glute, and the subject is unable to correct it, there is a faulty firing pattern that should be addressed. If the pelvis tilts or twists a lot, or the lower back arches excessively, inner-unit core stability may be insufficient and should be evaluated.

-Martin Reader is a powerful athlete that knows he will play stronger than ever with a better core strategy.

 

 

Rotational stability

A great test of the ability to maintain a neutral pelvic alignment starts with having the test subject lie flat on their back with knees bent and arms up in front of their chest, with palms together. The tester holds the hands in place with one hand while attempting to push the knees to one side against the test subject’s resistance. The tester observes the alignment of the subject’s abdominal region and feels the quality of the resistance at the knees. With good 360˚ core stability and pelvic control the subject should be able to keep the back of the pelvis flat on the floor or table, without the knees moving to the side. Looking at the abdomen there should be no twisting or rotation of the abdominal muscles. Test both directions with equal pressure.

Performance Sport Conditioning – Shear weakness

The more athletes I work with, the more amazed I am at how well some of these individuals manage to perform, considering the physical weaknesses and imbalances they possess. I don’t expect anyone to be perfect, but foundational core strength is pretty important, and is often less than ideal.

One weakness that regularly surfaces is the inability to maintain neutral alignment of the ribcage on top of the pelvis even under light lateral or rotational loads. The energy leakage or shearing that occurs across the mid-section can compromise performance and permit unnecessary stress to the spine. Proper core activation can increase 360˚ stability and prevent this problematic shearing from occurring.

Rob Williams is a kinesiologist, elite personal trainer and posture specialist. He has been practicing for 20 years and currently operates an exclusive private training studio Mixx Fitness Studio, with a team of 10 trainers, as well as a multi-disciplinary posture facility, Performance Posture Clinic. Rob’s parent company is Williams Health Group. Rob is an accomplished writer and speaker in the fields of fitness, posture and nutrition. He is a sought-after posture and performance coach for professional and amateur athletes and celebrities.

The Power of Posture

Over the holiday season I was fortunate enough to work with four elite Canadian athletes, from two different sports, each playing at the national and international level. I have to admit that I continue to be amazed at how important posture is for overall health and athletic performance.

With each of these athletes, a preliminary posture analysis was performed to identify any asymmetries in their standing and neutral athletic positions. These observations were closely related to existing or prior injuries that these individuals have been managing during their playing careers. It’s always rewarding for me at this stage to watch an individual have that ‘AHA!’ moment, where they can actually see how their posture is contributing to their problems.

Once I’ve analyzed someone’s posture, it’s important to get an understanding of how their body functions. This is done through manual testing, for things like core function, joint range of motion and muscle flexibility, as well as with analysis of movement patterns and strategies. Poor posture causes faulty movement, which leads to pain and injury. In each athlete there were weaknesses identified that were clearly related to the athlete’s performance limitations or prior injuries.

Through thousands of posture assessments and related training sessions, I’ve observed how closely postural alignment is related to dysfunction at various parts of the body. The most notable areas are the neck, shoulders, lower back, hips and knee joints. If you’re dealing with overuse or chronic injuries in one or more of these areas, try improving your posture as part of your corrective rehabilitation program. You’ll be surprised how much it can help.

As always, consult your physician before beginning or modifying your exercise program, and be certain to perform an effective warm up.

Posture and back pain

If you deal with chronic lower back issues, or get recurring episodes of acute pain, there’s a good chance that your posture is part of the problem. Because of the complexity of the spine and pelvis there are many things that can go wrong to cause pain and dysfunction. Making sure that you sit, stand and move in the best position possible will prevent muscle imbalance, joint stress and increased pressure on the intervertebral discs of your spine.

One of the most common posture deviations is the anterior pelvic sway, where your hips and pelvis begin to drift forward of your body. As the pelvis migrates it often tilts forward as well and the upper body must lean backward to keep you from falling face first. These displacements result in an increased or sharpened curve in the lower back, as well as a rounded upper spine with forward head carriage. This increased curve in the lower back puts strain on the joints and extra pressure on the discs. One way to prevent this is to remember that your ribcage should always be aligned directly above your pelvic ring, with 360˚ support from the entire core complex.

Posture and shoulder injuries

Clients often come to me with mild to moderate shoulder problems caused by sports or their occupation. Most of the time they’ve already tried various forms of therapy and treatment, but not had any permanent resolution to the problem. When this is the case, a posture assessment usually gives some indication of why.

Most posture deviations result in changes to the position and alignment of the upper spine and torso. When this happens, the arms will hang forward of the body and the shoulder blades will swing outward around the ribcage, often winging or rolling forward. This is one of the worst positions because it increases the risk of shoulder joint injuries. By realigning the rest of the body, the arms and shoulders will become more neutral, and the joints won’t be as susceptible to trauma.

Posture and how you move

Rob training Scott Richmond on Core X

Likely the most stimulating aspect of my professional practice is the part where I get to analyze a client’s movement strategies and improve upon them by optimizing their dynamic posture and alignment. Everyone should understand that training their bodies to maintain the best positions possible during movement will maximize their strength, balance and function. Even the elite athletes I work with see an instant improvement in their stability and athleticism when I coach them into better body position. This might involve getting deeper into the hip joints to encourage the big glute muscles to fire, or neutralizing the curves of the spine so that the core muscles can work from a position of strength.

When considering your own body position, check if your spine and pelvis are square and neutral and that your core system is engaged. Be sure you’ve balanced your bodyweight between your two feet, keeping them active rather than collapsed. All movement should begin from the center of your body, and happen with efficient precision. Try to avoid excessive, unnecessary motion, or weak, imbalanced body positions.

Rob Williams is a Vancouver based multi-business owner in the health and fitness industry. He is an entrepreneur, health and fitness columnist, presenter, inventor, athlete, father, prominent downtown vancouver personal trainer, coach and mentor to many young athletes on the North Shore www.williamshealthgroup.com