February Article: Neutral Pelvis and imprinting the spine

Pilates Basic Principle - Pelvic Area

(Original article article written from pilates basic principles  )

In pilates there is a focus of two placements of the lumbar spine (very low back) and pelvic region. These two placements are the neutral or imprinted positions.

It should be clear at all times in pilates whether you are in neutral or imprint. There are several occasions when you might be in a passing through position, in the event of spinal articulation.

The pelvic region holds the largest percentage of the body’s weight load; therefore, it is important to grasp the idea of stability and mobility in this region.

Neutral Pelvic Position

Neutral position is the most stable and shock-absorbing position that we can put our pelvis and lumbar spine in; therefore, it is the ideal position for us to be in, not only in pilates class but also in our daily life.

When you see a person lying (stomach facing up) on the floor in neutral position often you will see a slight curve in the low back, this is normal. Naturally, anatomically, we have a slight curve in the lumbar region.

However, to find your own neutral do not judge by the amount of space between your low back and the floor. (Look below for instructions on how to find neutral pelvis.)

Imprint Pelvic Position

This position is generally used for certain body types and is also used in the beginning to ensure stability of the pelvis and lumbar spine region if neutral position cannot be maintained. This position is also great for stabilizing weak abdominal obliques, with neutral being the ideal placement goal.

Often when you see a person lying down in imprinted position you do not see a space between their lumbar region and the floor. It is important to note that the low back is not jammed into the floor; rather it is lengthened almost parallel to the floor. (Look below for instructions on how to find imprint.)

How to Find Neutral Pelvic Position for Pilates

1. Find your ASIS (Anterior Superior Iliac Spine.) These are the front corners of your hip bones. The picture above illustrates two fingers on top of each ASIS.


2. Place the heels of your hands on your ASIS.

3. Fold your finger tips in together, keeping palms over ASIS. Your fingers should meet directly over your pubic bone. (above picture)

4. Make your hands level. Now you have two points under each hand: ASIS and pubic bone. As if your hands were pieces of paper, you would want them to be level. You don’t want your fingertips (pubic bone) higher than the heels of your hands (ASIS) - or vice versa.

5. Neutral Pelvis. Once your hands are level, which means your ASIS and pubic bone are also level, you have a neutral pelvis. Congratulations! Mazel tov! Tres bien! Ay que bueno! Etc.

This is a side angle of a neutral pelvis. You can see this person’s slight space in the lumbar region. It is important to note that every person’s lumbar space will be different, since neutral is determined by the ASIS and pubic bone rather than the lumbar space.

How to Find Imprinted Pelvic Position for Pilates

From a neutral position simply imagine the space between the ASIS and lowest rib shortening in distance. This movement is not huge. The low back will lengthen alongside the mat, not press into the mat.

The picture above is a side view of an imprinted position. As you can see, this person’s lumbar space is no longer present.

You Just Learned Pilates Pelvic Placement

  • Why neutral and imprinted positions are important
  • When to use neutral vs. imprinted position
  • How to find your own neutral and imprinted positions
  • Want to learn more pilates principles? Check out this overview of the pilates basic principles.

To learn how to correctly engage the abdominal muscles check out this article “Pulling in the Abdominals.” This article distinguishes proper engagement from the inefficient sucking in of abdominal matter.