Understanding our body's undercarriage: The Pelvis

The pelvis is critical to the body’s structure and locomotion, providing both the rigidity and flexibility essential to the human form. As bipeds, the majority of our movements are anchored and supported in the pelvis; from walking, running, sitting, turning and reclining, to the more complicated feats of strength and flexibility required of the modern athlete. Yet the pelvis is more than a mere buttress to the architecture of our bodies. It cradles and protects the fragile organs of the abdominopelvic cavity, stabilizes important bone structures and muscle groups, and influences our craniosacral, digestive, reproductive and respiratory systems.

Pelvic Imbalance in Women

Men and women have dramatically different pelvises. The male pelvis is stronger, narrower and more solid, honed for efficiency in movement. The female pelvis is wider and rotated more anteriorly to provide the space necessary to pregnancy and childbirth.

Many women are plagued by chronic pelvic pain, which can be difficult to diagnose and thus to treat. A woman’s broader, more flexible pelvis, as well as changes that occur during pregnancy, make her especially vulnerable to imbalance. Pelvic imbalance is one of the most overlooked causes of infertility, polycystic ovarian syndrome, endometriosis and fibroids. Holistic treatments for women with pelvic imbalance seek to restore her body’s natural posture and symmetry, releasing tense or frozen elements that may be contributing to her poor alignment and improving the biomechanics of the entire pelvic region.

For Athletes

Tight hip flexors, lumbar pain, groin injuries, limited joint movement, inflexibility, poor stabilization, decreased athleticism, and even leg, shoulder and foot pain can all result from pelvic dysfunction. Since an athlete’s thigh, hip and abdominal muscles are anchored by the pelvis, even a slight pelvic misalignment or imbalance can affect performance. Over time, overuse injuries compound and sometimes camouflage pelvic problems. Conversely, proper posture and pelvic balance naturally buoy the efficiency of the body’s muscles and movements, generating greater power and rotation while reducing the chances of injury. When attempting to diagnose a chronic pain or range of motion problem, it’s wise to begin with a thorough assessment of the pelvis.

The comparative complexity of a woman’s pelvis means that female athletes should pay especial attention to the biomechanics of the pelvis and treat pelvic pain or dysfunction seriously. Female athletes more commonly report pelvic imbalance, pelvic floor problems, and unresolved pelvic pain.

Conclusion

It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the pelvis to the body’s overall structure, health, and biomechanics. Whether the result of overuse, injury, misalignment, poor posture, or pregnancy/childbirth, pelvic pain should be treated holistically, with due consideration for associated systems, organs and muscle groups. The most effective pelvic treatment options simultaneously implement corrective measures, improve mobility, manage pain, address underlying causes, and prevent symptoms from returning.
 

Sources:

http://www.chelseaosteopaths.co.uk/pelvic-imbalance

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/hs/misc/kinesiology/chapter7.pdf

http://hal.bim.msu.edu/vopp/Content/Pelvis/start.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3175921/

 

Swedan N. Women's Sports Medicine And Rehabilitation. Gaithersburg, Md.: Aspen Publishers; 2001.