Lying on you back, place the palms of your hands on your ASIS (anterior point of hip bones) and align your hands in a diagonal direction so that fingers meet on your pubic rami (bony area at the lower front of your pelvis). Rock your pelvis forward and back a few times, keeping your hands in position.
When the tips of your fingers are higher than your palms, this is imprint.
You will also notice that you have decreased the space between your lumbar curve (lower back) and the mat. We use this position often in Pilates especially when we are lifting our legs off the floor (eg. toe taps, single leg stretch). Imprint gives our lower back more support and assists our abdominal recruitment to ensure they are doing the work. It is also used to initiate flexion of the spine when the movement begins at the pelvis (eg. hip rolls).
When your palms and fingers are on a level plane horizontal to the floor, this is your neutral pelvis. Neutral pelvis is ideally how we want our pelvis to be balanced in relation to our spine when we are sitting, standing, walking etc. With a neutral pelvis, our spinal curves are aligned and muscles around the hip are in their optimal position for stability and movement. As your abdominals become stronger working in an imprinted position for supine exercises (on your back), you may progress to executing the exercise with a neutral pelvis if suitable for the exercise, making it more functional and reflective of everyday tasks. Your seated exercises are performed in neutral pelvis, you may hear us prompting you to “sit on your sit bones”. This is to check you are not hinging forward in an anterior tilt, or slumping back in an imprint.
When the tips of your fingers are lower than your palms, this is extension.
You may also hear this position referred to as ‘anterior tilt’ or forward tilt. Many of us stand with our pelvis in an anterior tilt which places more load on the lower back and tightens our hip flexors. This posture often causes back pain and hip tightness which can have a flow on effect for other parts of the body too. Standing exercises where you are squatting (eg. scooters, squats) involve tilting your pelvis anteriorly to counter balance your torso and lower body. Some advanced exercises in Pilates may incorporate extension of the spine and anterior tilt the pelvis, but this requires a super strong core to support the spine.
In your Pilates exercises you will notice that most of your supine (laying on your back) exercises are performed with either a neutral or imprinted pelvis, depending on your ability. Side lying and standing work are predominantly performed in neutral, with some standing exercises moving between neutral and anterior tilt.
If you have any questions please ask one of our fabulous Pilates Instructors at our Neutral Bay Pilates Studio.