How can the first Gear Changer I presented, The Head Lift, help you change your pelvic position?
The short answer is that holding your body in this position regularly will retrain the muscular balance of some of your major flexor and extensor muscles. Directly, you address the muscles of your abdomen, back and neck when doing this.
Many of us rob ourselves of strength we already possess through habitual tonic contraction of our lumbar and cervical extensors and habitual low tone in our abdominal and neck flexor muscles. In The Head Lift, you activate the underactive flexor muscles which relaxes the overactive extensors. You may feel that your head shakes while holding it up. This is due to the muscles at the back of the neck not allowing the muscles in the front to do their job. Over time, they will learn to yield more. Also, you may find that you can't lift your head anywhere near the ideal top position, perpendicular to the floor. This is down to the flexor/extensor balance and also contributes to the shake, as the head has a greater leverage the further from the top position it is. So as you learn to let go of the habitual tone of the neck extensors and contract the neck flexors more completely, you will also find you bring the head to a more mechanically advantageous position making the position easier still. The better you get at this hold, the more efficiently you will use your muscles, bones and joints. It will also be worth using your hands from time to time to inspect the shape of the lower back and the feeling of the muscles of the abdomen. Before and after you do the movement, lay with your legs straight so that you are flat on the floor and pay attention to how you contact it. Does your imprint change after a hold?
As I said in the previous article, only hold the head in whatever your highest easy position (where you can breath normally without going red in the face) currently is for as long as you can without shaking. When you begin shaking, take a rest before continuing.
Do this whenever you can, starting with totals of 60 seconds. Do it pre-workout and definitely do it post-workout. It will help you let go of some of the tension you have accumulated in your extensors while working out. Do it while you watch TV. Do it while you read or type emails. Do it often to retrain your flexor/extensor balance and move your pelvic position to something more ideal for you.
You will see to the right some amateurish photos of me taken around 18 months apart performing The Head Lift. You will see that to start with my head position is fairly close to perpendicular and 18 months on is a few degrees closer still. This few degrees makes a lot of difference throughout the body and people with less optimal Head Lift positions when starting out stand to gain much more doing the drill than I do (my problem areas lie elsewhere!).
Having primarily addressed the muscles north of your pelvis with The Head Lift, let us now go south.
The Stance Positioner
i) After lying flat on your back and paying attention to your imprint against the floor for a few seconds, lay on your back and bend your knees so that your feet stand flat on the floor. Very slowly slide your heels a little towards you and a little away from you at least 20 times in each direction noticing any movement you make anywhere other than your legs as you do this. Find the point where your heels feel like they are the correct distance from you and stop. Notice if you have them in the same position that you began in. Slowly lay flat and check your imprint against the floor.
ii) Bend your knees and stand your feet again. Now slowly slide your feet towards each other and away from each other at least 20 times within a comfortable, equal range both ways. Does one way feel easier than the other? Do you feel any movement anywhere other than your legs as you do this? Stop and notice if you stop with your feet in the same position as before you started or somewhere else. Lay flat and compare your imprint on the floor.
iii) Bend your knees and stand your feet again. Now using your feet like hinges (keeping them in the same spot but allowing them to tilt from side to side), very slowly tilt the knees in a little towards one another and then a little away from one another at least 20 times, making sure you only do this within an ultra-comfortable range that is the same magnitude both ways, meaning that if the knees come in five centrimetres from their starting position, they also go out five centimetres from their starting position. Notice anywhere else in your body that moves as you move your knees in and out. Stop and notice how you position your legs after the movements then slowly pay attention to your imprint with the ground. Then slowly stand and walk slowly for a while, noticing any different feeling as you walk.
The Stance Positioner works in a similar way to The Head Lift but more directly addresses below the pelvis. Do this as often as possible and you will begin to notice over time that you change where you habitually set your stance. This will indicate a change in the leg musculature, the pelvic position and everything above.
Do at least 30 to 60 seconds of each of these Gear Changers pre-workout and ideally twice as long post-workout to counteract the return to habitual patterns that work under load tends to bring and do these easy activities as often as possible outside of training as often as possible.
Doing these almost zero effort activities will help you learn to have easier and easier access to higher gears meaning more power and less ware and tear. That's how you can gear up for free strength!