In modern times, our tail bone has been deemed an unnecessary and left-over part of our evolution. But it actually has a very important role: our pelvic floor muscles attach to it. How does that make it important you ask? Because how we position our tail can greatly influence our pelvic floor health.
We have 3 layers of muscle in our pelvic floor: The bulbospongiosus, our superficial 1st layer attaching from pubic bone to tail bone; the 2nd layer, the urogenital diaphragm attaching sit bone to sit bone and the levator ani, our deepest layer connecting pubic bone to tail bone. These are muscle groups, and instead of laying on top of each other, they are interwoven, like the fibers of fabric.
Imagine then, how the positioning of the tail can affect these muscles. It determines whether our pelvic floor is “open” or “closed.” Think of it this way: A dog feeling threatened or frightened tucks it’s tail between its legs, a fight or flight response closing off and protecting, rounding the spine around all the important organs. Where a dog happy and playful tips his tail up to the sky, open and free, no worries.
A tucked tail is a common position for sitting these days, as we are usually slumped over a computer or leaning back on the couch. It flattens the low back, leading to back pain (another post for another time) and causes us to sit on our tailbone and sacrum, shortening the pelvic floor. Specifically the back of the pelvic floor. This can lead to or contribute to a hypertonic (tight) pelvic floor. Please keep in mind that tight or short does NOT mean strong.
Seated in your chair, roll back onto your pockets (my first riding instructor would tell us not to sit on our pockets, the back pockets in our jeans!) meaning roll back and sit with your tail tucked underneath you. Feel how everything gets smaller. Now roll forward onto your sit bones with your tail bone tipping back (don’t go too far – sitting “in front” of our sit bones is also another post for another day!) Sit up tall on your sit bones and feel how there is suddenly more space at the base of your body.
If you want to explore further, come into cat-cow (hands and knees). Inhale, tip your tail bone up as you move your heart forward. Your belly will gently lower to the floor. Feel your sit bones widen; Exhale, tuck your tail as you round your spine. Feel your sit bones shorten and your pelvic area get smaller. Move through it a few times.
As part of a healthy, happy body, try to catch yourself when you are slumping and sitting on your tailbone/sacrum and instead, sit up on those sit bones! They are called sit bones for a reason…