Put the Measuring Stick Away. Size Doesn’t Matter. (And Other Anatomical Insights.)

My Physical Therapist friend, Tracy, turned me on to Todd Hargrove’s blog post about a study of 30 cadavers and their pelvises. Essentially, the study showed that each cadaver’s pelvic halves widely varied in size, shape and bony landmark measurement. (In case you don’t already know, your pelvis is made up of two pelvic halves and one sacrum.)

Somatic movement instructors commonly assess pelvic alignment by sight or palpating the bony landmarks, especially the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine). But, if there can be such vast structural differences between one person’s pelvic halves, then conclusions drawn by assessing their alignment by those methods, alone, can be deceiving.

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a teacher, it reaffirms the necessity to enlist the student’s participation in discerning when their alignment feels off and giving them tools to realign from within. You are not able to get inside their head and experience what they are experiencing, which means developing communication skills is also in your – their – everyone’s – best interests.

If you’re a student, it requires you to step up and develop a conscious connection to your feedback loops. Your brain is taking in valuable information every nanosecond, giving you the ultimate power to detect and influence your body’s alignment.


Regardless of whether you’re a teacher or student, the results of the study support the idea that movement is an essential tool in determining (mis)alignment. As a teacher, you may see movement patterns that indicate muscular imbalances. As a student, you may feel a difference in muscular tension indicating your bony structure is a bit wonky.


Touching is still a valuable option. (Tell your inner 12yo to stop giggling.)

It’s important to keep in mind that while palpating your bony structure with a goal towards measuring differences may yield flawed results, there’s still power in utilizing self touch.

There are 3,000 touch receptors in each of your fingertips, never mind the number of receptors underneath your fingertips – in your skin, fascia, and muscle – and that information is incredibly useful to your brain as it’s constantly calibrating your alignment during movement.

Try this:

  1. Notice your head and neck. Notice if your head feels balanced on top of your spine or if your chin is leading your noggin forward. Notice if the vertebrae in your neck feel compressed at all.
  2. Wrap your right hand around the back of your neck.
  3. Slowly and gently, circle your head around 5x to the right and then 5x to the left, all the while palpating the soft tissue of your neck with the goal of it feeling soft and supple as you circle your head around.
  4. Notice your head and neck again. In what way has your alignment improved? Share your insights below. I’d love to hear {read}!


Bottom Line – Alignment is in the body of the beholden. Beheld? Beholdered? Oh, never mind. Only you (YOUR brain) can be the foremost expert on your balance and alignment, so know what’s yours.

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  • Such a great simple tool for checking in and addressing neck tension while on the computer! Thanks Gini! (typed with left hand while circling head and palpating with right hand.)

    March 14, 2013
    • Gini

      You’re welcome, Miss Donna! {talk about multitasking}

      March 14, 2013
  • Kirk Pynchon

    I like “beholdered.”

    March 14, 2013
    • Gini

      Of course you do.

      March 14, 2013

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