This is another exercise I often get patients to do at home between treatments. It is very good at re-setting our standing posture to ‘Neutral’, when used on a daily basis.
Standing upright, look down at your feet. Most people’s feet are slightly turned out; if so turn them to 12 o’clock, and if anything even ever so slightly inwards. This will probably feel odd on your knees, legs and hips, but the more you do it the easier it will feel. You are in effect dis-engaging your hips, allowing more movement and space in the pelvis and lower back.Now move your weight forwards and backwards by swaying slightly and gently from the front of the feet to the heels and back again. Imagine each foot has 4 ‘pillars’, one on each corner of the foot (two in the front and two in the back). Feel the weight shift through all 4 pillars of each foot as you sway gently in a circular motion. Now that you have felt what it is like to have the weight of the body fall more heavily through the different parts of the feet, bring your weight right over both feet so that you feel it very evenly distributed through all 4 ‘pillars’ of each foot. This brings you into a sort of ‘Neutral’ standing, where the weight is very evenly distributed through front, back and sides of each foot; the feet feel very firmly planted on the ground beneath you. As this happens you will find the pelvis falls into its Neutral position also. The pelvis feel very free and easy, and the lower back (the lumbar curve) feels long, mobile and comfortable. The upper back naturally opens up, the shoulders drop to the side and the neck is long. All this happens as a natural consequence of you finding the ‘Neutral’ in your feet as described above.
The concept of Neutral in Osteopathy is a very important one, and it is one you will see me explore again and again in these articles. What Osteopaths call Neutral has slightly different meanings depending on the situation, however all Neutrals have one thing is common; they are free to shift. Like a gear stick in Neutral, it can shift into any gear you like. You can explore this standing by bending/dropping one knee and then the other (in a sort of “salsa jiggle”) and feeling how freely the movement translates into the pelvis, lower back and upper back.
If you practice standing in Neutral like this once or twice a day for 5 minutes or so, you will gradually train yourself to feel that as your normal. A bit like one of those electronic scales where you can put your bowl on and set that to zero before putting in the flour… And in so doing you will be saving your whole body from unnecessary stresses and strains.