Modern life isn’t always the best for great posture – especially if you spend your days sat in an office. One common posture complaint is the anterior pelvic tilt – a pronounced arch in the back and a tilted pelvis. It can lead to sore muscles in your back. Luckily, posture problems can be improved with some smart muscle training.
What Is An Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
Spotting an anterior pelvic tilt is usually quite easy – look to see if your pelvis is tipped slightly forward, your lower back is curved or your stomach pushed-out. Initially, it might not seem like much, but over the long term it can have a negative effect on spine and muscle health.
What Causes An Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
Anterior pelvic tilt can develop over time and is usually down to weakness in the glutes, hamstrings and abs.
Sitting with poor posture for long periods can lead to shortening of the inner hip muscle (hip flexors) and increased tension on the lower back because of a slumped seating position. Eventually, you’ll start to notice muscular pain in your lower back, spine and hips. These slowly develop from a niggling ache to more serious long-term problems. Most people start to notice the pain when bending over, for example when tying your shoes.
In technical terms, this issue is caused by the hip flexors becoming shorter as hip extensors get longer, coupled with weak stomach muscles. Along with poor sitting positions, other causes include genetics, gaining weight around your middle, as it causes your pelvis to tilt beyond its normal range of movement to accommodate the extra weight you’re carrying, and pregnancy. A growing baby bump shifts your usual centre of gravity and pulls your pelvis out of alignment.
If you’re not doing regular stretching and strengthening exercises, you could be putting yourself at risk of developing anterior pelvic tilt too.
Common Symptoms Of An Anterior Pelvic Tilt
The easiest way to see if you have anterior pelvic tilt is to look at yourself side on in a mirror. If everything is ok, your pelvis will be level at the front and back. If it’s tilted, the front of your pelvis will dip forward considerably, creating a noticeable arch in your back. Your belly might also be sticking out, and your upper back and shoulders may be rounded.
You might also start to notice pains in your spine, hips, knees and ankles, and you may be suffering with sciatica – an uncomfortable trapped nerve sensation in your back, hips, backside or thighs.
If you lift weights or do a sport where you need explosive power, you might find your performance has dropped off, or that you’re suffering with more aches and pains than usual after a workout.
7 Ways To Help Fix An Anterior Pelvic Tilt
There are a number of simple exercises that can help repair your anterior pelvic tilt.
Stretching exercises are key to reversing anterior pelvic tilt, so practices like yoga are great for getting everything back in line. Dynamic yoga moves – like the warrior pose that ensures your pelvis is aligned – are ideal for people with this issue. Not only does yoga promote an aligned core, many of the weight-bearing balance positions like mountain pose also require a neutral pelvis, which can help to reset some of your bad posture behaviours.
If you don’t know where your local yoga studio is, there are plenty of online tutorials so you can work on improving your posture from the comfort of your own home.
If you’re a runner, the anterior tilt can cause some issues as it can lead to injury in the hamstrings and lower back if uncorrected. If you do think you have a tilt, reduce the intensity of your workout and focus on correcting your posture for shorter, slower runs. Couple that with a regular routine of stretching and core training and you’ll soon improve your running posture.
3. Doing hip hinges
Hip hinges help to increase hamstring flexibility, create mobility through the hip joint and build strong glutes – all areas that can be a cause of anterior pelvic tilt. A well-performed hip hinge will move your hip joints through their full range of motion, with the hamstrings and glutes doing all the hard work. By using these muscles to power the movement, you’ll quickly start building strength and improving your posture.
4. Compound lifts
Weights are great for correcting anterior pelvic tilt, but only if you nail the technique. Start off with your hip hinge to strengthen your muscles before moving on to a light deadlift. To ensure you’re getting that technique perfect, work slowly and really focus on that strong back position and tight, tucked in ribs. This should help you align your spine, creating the ideal posture for a powerful lift. This lift will work your glutes and hamstrings and as you get stronger, you should see great improvements in your posture.
If you exercise regularly, you’ll know that controlling your breathing is just as important as the position of your body. But sometimes – particularly if you’re lifting weights – proper breath control can be forgotten. Before you start, take a deep breath to help you tighten up your body, then breath out as you lift. This helps to engage your abs and diaphragm, pushing your ribs down and your hips forward, helping to fix your pelvis in a strong neutral position.
Getting your breathing right can begin to correct anterior pelvic tilt and help you feel powerful with every lift.
6. Ab exercises
A rock solid core is key to remedying anterior pelvic tilt as it will help to strengthen the general area, and pull your tilted pelvis into a strong, neutral position. One simple exercise to drill in to those abs is a leg raise. You don’t need any equipment and you can modify the movement to work for you and your strength levels.
Lie flat on your back with your arms flat by your sides. With straight legs, lift them off the floor until they are at 90 degrees to the rest of your body. Slowly lower your legs – keeping them straight – making sure your lower back doesn’t lift off the ground. If you can’t complete this movement with straight legs and a flat back, don’t sweat it. Simply bend your legs slightly to make the movement easier and gradually straighten them as you get stronger.
Ballet is a seriously tough discipline and creates athletes with incredible all over strength and perfect posture. We’re not saying you’ll soon be on the stage, but by practicing some key movements or heading to a beginner’s class, you can make a big difference to your posture.
Ballet drills focus on building a strong core and hip flexors, and creating a neutral position in the pelvis – perfect if you’re trying to correct your alignment. If you’re not into performing, there are plenty of dance fitness and ballet classes that focus on building both strength and form. Plus, like yoga and Pilates, ballet fitness is a great way to add variety to your usual fitness regime.
How Long Does It Take To Correct An Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
This depends on a number of factors – how long it’s been an issue and how much effort you’re prepared to put in to correct it. With the right stretching and strengthening exercises performed regularly, you should start to see results fairly quickly.
To help you achieve a strong, supported pelvis faster, include more protein in your diet to help your muscles recover in an efficient and speedy way. Drink an Impact Whey Protein shake after your workout to rebuild strong muscles so you’re ready to smash your next workout.
Keep Your Pelvis Healthy With Regular Exercises
Keeping your pelvis in a strong position is key to good posture, so even if you don’t have any of the symptoms of anterior pelvic tilt, it’s important to keep it in mind and adapt your exercise regime to keep it at bay.
If you work in a job where you’re immobile for much of the day, take time to do a few stretches and strength building exercises, and add them in when you hit the gym. Good posture not only keeps you strong, it can make you look taller and feel more confident with just a few easy exercises.
Take Home Message
We’re all prone to getting sports injuries or developing complications with our muscles or joints if we aren’t training properly. Although an anterior pelvic can be painful and uncomfortable, it is very easy to identify whether you have one or not. With the right exercise and stretching routine, you should be able to correct this pelvic tilt over time, just make sure you take things slowly and don’t push yourself too hard.