Hi. My name is Ivy and I clench my butt when I stand up. I’m not proud, but admitting it is the first step towards recovery.
But(t) seriously (see what I did there?!?) When you stand in the kitchen, in line at the grocery store, or at your standing desk, are you squeezing your butt for no reason and without awareness? Our bodies are always trying to figure out how to stabilize. Gravity is no joke and if we don’t have the deep intrinsic systems of lift supporting us, we grip. Lifting our shoulders, tightening our butts, locking our knees are all indications that we don’t feel internal support and more often than not it’s paired with lower back pain, shoulder pain, foot pain, knee pain etc… Your internal support exists, I promise, it’s always there, we just need to gently jostle it awake.
One way to tap into lift is a little physics concept called “Ground Reaction Force” or GRF.
A force exerted by the ground in response to the forces a body exerts on it. If the body is pushing down and forwards, the ground reaction force is up and backward; if the body pushes down and backward, the ground reaction force is up and forwards.
Say what now? In short, how we meet the ground (floor, mat, chair etc…) determines how we are met with support from gravity and it’s relationship with those deeper smaller more intrinsic muscles, AND our connective tissue, ie..fascia, itself. Fascia determines our form and posture among other things, but let’s save that for another post.
Back to your butt, and GRF. Let me help you feel what we’re talking about.
Stand up. Take your shoes off, if you can.
Without changing your patterns just yet, drop into curiosity (see my last blog post). Notice. Are you squeezing your booty? Are one or both your knees locked? How do your feet feel on the floor? What’s going on with your breath? Your shoulders, are they in your ears?
Next. Get real heavy. Go full rag doll. No tension, but no activation in the body. Just enough to keep you upright. Notice how heavy your feet feel on the floor. How, even though this may feel “good” to relax for a moment, that it’s not sustainable. AND you can’t exactly walk around like this.
Now, activate everything. Full military/yoga posture. Chest up, head tall. Butt gripped. Can you breathe? How do your feet feel on the floor? You may feel strong, for a moment, but is this tension sustainable? Can you hold everything like this and walk?
Finally, Feel your feet. Soften your knees, simply break the tension in the back of your knees rather than a deep bend. Feel how releasing the over stabilization of your knees allows your butt to relax, and when your butt relaxes your rib cage and shoulders might also relax.
This next part is important! When you stand up feel your feet release into the ground at the same time that the crown of your head grows up towards the sky. Stand, not from your joints, but from your Fascia. Stand from a sense of your body as a continuous system, rather than pieces and parts. You’re looking for a feeling that lives between too much tension and too much release. Do this a few times. Inhale soften the knees, exhale grow down through the ground and up to the sky. Imagine you’re made of silly putty and you are keeping your shape as you expand.
Now walk around for a moment and come back to standing. What do you notice? Do you feel more ease? Less collapse? Can you sense lift with a bit less effort?
You just played with your relationship to gravity and Ground Reaction Force. You have a simple reset tool to find more lift and less tension.
Now, Go forth and relax your butt.
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