Tag Archives: hip joints

23 A New Use for Your Countertop

How did your observations go? Have a chance to check out any mannequins?

Below is a picture of mannequins in a New York City shop window taken by my colleague, Lindsay Newitter (check out her fun blog)

Mannequins in a New York City shop window

Fig 1: Mannequins in a New York City shop window

So you see even the mannequins are standing with their hip joints pushed forward.

Why is standing with your hip joints pushed forward so detrimental?

If you consider the pelvis to be the foundation of the upper part of your body you want it firmly under you so it can support your torso, shoulders, neck and head. When the hip joints are pushed forward your pelvis is not positioned firmly under you.

This is the same principle that we talked about with sitting in post 9.

If you had a house and the foundation shifted it wouldn’t be safe to live in, would it? You would probably be evacuated and not be allowed back in until it was fixed.

When you push your hip joints forward it causes other things to readjust as you attempt to stay balanced.

Look at the picture of me below standing with my hip joints pushed forward. How does that affect my upper back ? Can you see that my upper back is thrown backward behind my pelvis?

Standing with feet parallel and hips pushed forward

An unfortunately typical way to see people standing today: hip joints forward and upper back thrown backward

Often if someone is then carrying something in front of them this unhealthy relationship is often further exaggerated.


Further exaggeration of the standing posture above

Fig 2: Further exaggeration of the standing posture above

If you draw a line vertically from her upper back to the ground there would be nothing underneath to support it.

The problem is that the way you habitually stand will tend to feel vertical even if it is not . So, instead of relying on whether you “feel” like you are standing vertically, it is useful to have an external reference point—like a countertop.

When you find that you are in front of a counter (bathroom counter, kitchen counter, store counter…) simply begin by noticing how you are orienting your hip joints in relationship to the counter.

If you push your hip joints toward the counter the first step is to realize this is actually something you are doing. You are pushing your hip joints forward. If you are doing something you can choose to stop doing it, even just a little bit. Let there be some space between the counter in front of you and your hip joints.

It is not so much that you have to do something new. Just do less of what you are already doing.

The key is that you have to start with observation. If you don’t notice you are doing something that is unhelpful, harmful or plain unnecessary you can’t choose to stop doing it.

With observation comes choice.

Picture credits: Fig 1: Lindsay Newitter (www.nyposturepolice.com); Fig 2: Back Trouble by Deborah Caplan.


22 Where Are You Parking Your Hip Joints?

To follow this post I suggest that you get good and acquainted with your hip joints—where your legs connect to your pelvis. If you need help re-read post 8  before reading further.

Alexander teachers are very interested in the head-spine relationship. I would go so far as to say that the head—spine relationship is the Primary relationship in your body. It is the first relationship you want to pay some attention to but not the only relationship. Another very important relationship is that of the pelvis to the legs.

What you are habitually doing with your pelvis will affect your head—spine relationship and vice versa.

When you stand what do you do with your pelvis? Where do you park your hip joints? Do you even know?

Do this little experiment with me. You will need a chair with a relatively high back that you can place your hands on. Like this one:

P1010568I have taken the following pictures outside (I couldn’t resist the beautiful day!) but it will be best to do this experiment inside with a full length mirror at your side. Stand behind the back of the chair and review where your hip joints are

P1010580Now place your hands on the top rail of the chair like this

P1010571Tip the chair backwards (toward you) and at the same time push your hip joints forwards

P1010579Place the chair on the floor and now tip the chair forwards (away from you) and at the same time allow your hip joints to move backwards. This will cause you to fold or bend.

P1010576Try this a few times going back and forth, coordinating the pull of the chair backwards with pushing your hip joints forwards and the push of the chair forwards with allowing your hip joints to move backwards.

As you move through this range of motion is there a place that feels familiar? If so, stop in that place. Look in the mirror. This is probably how you tend to stand.

If the familiar place is with your hip joints pushed forwards you are in good company. There are lots of you out there. It seems to be a more and more common way for people to stand. But definitely not something to imitate.

For now I invite you to watch your family, friends, co-workers and just plain strangers and see where they tend to park their hip joints when they are standing. If you happen to be in a mall in the next two weeks, take a look at the mannequins as well.