Despite what many people think, the sacrococcygeal joint is mobile in many people with research noting that normal coccygeal movement is between 5-25° from standing to sitting.
So… the coccyx CAN move.
Which means that its ability to move can have implications on the rest of the body (everything is connected right?)
So for example, a change at the coccyx can change how the sacrum and pelvis moves. Which is pretty obvious if you think about it.
The coccyx is also a central attachment point for fascia, muscles and ligaments on the inside and the outside of the pelvis. So again you can probably imagine that a coccyx which is off-axis may create some problems.
Let’s take the pelvic floor muscles as an example. If, for example, the coccyx is pulled over to the left, all the pelvic floor muscles attached to the left side of the coccyx will get short while the ones on the right will get stretched out. This could lead to decreased “core” strength (remember that pelvic floor is part of the “core”), incontinence (urinary or bowel) and/or pain (bowel, bladder, sex, exercise).
The ligaments that attach to the coccyx also provide stability to the pelvis and so a shift at the coccyx could create ligamentous tension, leading to the same problems. Some of these ligaments, like the anterior longitudinal and supraspinal ligament, even run all the way up to the head and neck!
So you can probably imagine how pregnancy and childbirth (amongst other things) can create a problem, not only locally at the tailbone, but further up or down the chain.
The spinal cord (the brain’s extension to the rest of the body) is housed by the spine and starts in the skull, runs the whole spine and then attaches to our coccyx. If there is stiffness in the spine or at the coccyx itself this can then impact the mobility and health of the nervous system.
When this happens the body may become 'protective' in order to keep the nervous system safe such as causing tightness and restricted movement as well as causing pain.
Treating the tailbone (the muscles and ligaments that attach to it) is one aspect of that may help if there are issues along with a whole load of other rehabilitation techniques. This is in order to improve the health and mobility of the nervous system.
But what can YOU do?
Well, maybe you could be a little more thoughtful to your coccyx and ensure that you are giving it a rest (if you sit a lot!), ensure good sitting posture, get some pelvic tilts and clocks in your day, or even just go for a walk to get some blood flowing.
But remember, if you’ve got pain 'down there' please go and see someone about it.