What is Primal Posture?
Primal posture refers to the way our ancestors held their bodies. It’s the way people have stood and moved for thousands of years, and it can still be seen in some traditional societies.
Primal posture can be distinguished by
- a pelvis that tips forward
- a fairly straight spine above the sacro-lumbar (low back) curve
- well-developed buttocks
- shoulders that lie toward the back of the body
- a lifted chest without the bottom ribs protruding forward
- soft groins
- weight stacked over the heels
- feet with arches that turn out slightly
The one characteristic that makes the others possible is the tilt of the pelvis. Without that, the other parts aren’t able to stack correctly.
Your Candy Cane Spine
A pelvis that tips forward should create a candy cane or “J” shaped spine. This maintains the important wedge-shaped disc at S1-L5. When the pelvis is tucked or in neutral, there is pressure on the front of the disc that forces the disc toward the back. That pressure leads to disc damage, including bulging and herniated discs.
Long and Strong
This statue is a good example of a “J” spine. Note that the buttocks are behind the shoulders. The pelvis tips forward right above the buttocks. The rest of the spine is long, as evidenced by the gentle curve of the back and the rib cage being in line with the abdomen. This position allows space for the abdominal organs while maintaining support for the back.
You can see that the curve of the “J” spine is just at the low back, whereas with the typical “S” spine, the curve is in the entire lumbar spine below the ribs. This adds a lot of tension to all the back muscles and pushes the abdominal organs and muscles forward.
The Rule of “Just Enough”
Finding and maintaining a candy cane spine brings us to a very important point. Many people end up hurting their backs instead of helping to heal them by overdoing the low back arch.
One of the main reasons tilting your pelvis forward can hurt your back is that you are overusing your low back muscles to find the arch. The problem isn’t in the tilt, it’s in the amount of tilt and in what muscles are being used to create the tilt.
You don’t need to arch your low back so much that you create pain in your low back. You only need to tip forward enough that you know you are doing it. You tip forward “just enough.”