One of the most common questions regarding corrective exercise is,
“I have an anterior pelvic tilt. What can I do to get rid of it?”
As far as my memory goes, it’s been a decade since the internet was set a flame with the words anterior pelvic tilt. Where suddenly every issue every person had was due to this posture. The fact this thing is still kicking the way it is unfortunate. As is the following:
“I’ve been doing a bunch of hip flexor stretching and glute bridges, but it hasn’t really been helping.”
This isn’t how one should go about improving an anterior pelvic tilt. I know many are thinking, “Please, no more squeezing my glutes or stretching my hip flexors.”
Are you sure your focus is in the right place?
Backing up for a second, many are obsessed with their pelvic position. For some, this is merely aesthetics, where typically something else is going on. Something along the lines of this:
For the above, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve how you look. Posture, how a person walks, these things matter. It’s not a coincidence most of the emails I get on this topic are from younger people.
1) Older people usually don’t usually have the lower back extension that accompanies an anterior pelvic tilt (more info on that here).
2) In particular, men know how they stand, how they hold themselves, matters to women. No woman wants a guy who holds his head low, has drooped (smaller looking) shoulders. One of the more attractive aspects of a man is a tall spine with broad shoulders. A ton of lower back extension often goes along with some of these detriments.
For others, the anterior pelvic tilt obsession is due to believing it’s causing all their issues. Any particular posture warrants zero obsession. We need to always, always remember static posture, that thing you do when you’re completely still and standing, is something we all barely do all day. (Although, with standing desks, this is starting to change.) Meaning it’s something we shouldn’t place too much focus on. Other than some jobs, where you are truly standing in place hours and hours. And it’s worth stating here, standing one place for hours, with a lower back that progressively extends, can cause pain.
But what most of us are really trying to work on is what happens when we move. For instance, take someone and have them anteriorly tilt their pelvis / extend their lower back:
If that little movement right there causes some lower back pain or discomfort, then working on not extending your lower back during various movements is a step in the right direction. Or, if you’re someone who stand with a good curve in your lower back, then working on not letting your back curve during a variety of movements is a step in the right direction. While posture should rarely be the sole focus, it IS a window into how one moves.
Posture will be worked on, but movement is the focus of this program.
8 Weeks Towards Correcting An Anterior Pelvic Tilt
This is a two month program with one goal: To stop extending the lower back so much, so often. To move in a variety of ways, hopefully some ways you haven’t been exposed to before, without excessively tilting the pelvis forward.
-> The extending the lower back, rather than tilting the pelvis, is usually where more of the focus should be. For instance, in this posture the person does not have an anterior pelvic tilt:
However, because the upper back is so rounded and pushed backwards, the lower back compensates by extending. Therefore, this program will focus on the upper body as well as the lower. Often, when someone emails me asking about anterior pelvic tilt, what they’re really getting at is the curve in their lower spine. Not necessarily whether their hips are tilted.
The program comes in the form of two spreadsheets. Month One and Month Two. The program consists of the following tabs (in bold)-
-Explanation of the weekly schedule. How some days are different than others.
-If curious, why the reps and sets are the way they are
-What to do on “off” days, and why
-Some miscellaneous health notes
-Some miscellaneous program advice notes
Explanation of program strategy
This will already end up being hit on some in this post. If you are looking for a detailed explanation for the anatomy and whatnot behind each exercise selection, this is not the right source. I feel there is enough out there on that. While much of it could be better, the point of this manual is to get moving without an anterior pelvic tilt. Not to get bogged down in the details of anatomy. For many, they don’t need to know all that. They need to know 1) what to do 2) how to do it. If you’re that interested in why an exercise is in the program, email me and I’ll be happy to let you know. firstname.lastname@example.org
I also already have some anatomy talk with regards to pelvic tilts here.
Activities of Daily Living
Having some exercises which work on the hips and lower back is great, but it can be hard to get far if you’re engaging in habits during the day which say, extend your lower back all day.
I cover a few changes, namely-
-Making sitting easier on the spine.
-A simple cue to work on when standing to help lessen an anterior pelvic tilt.
-A quick change when laying down to insure the lower back isn’t in extension / hips aren’t rotated forward.
Every exercise in the program is accompanied with a video of someone going through the exercise, often with pertinent feedback from voice feedback going over form errors and what to think about.
Each exercise has one or two cues to think about, to help insure form is correct.
Monday – Sunday
Every day of the week is outlined. How many sets, reps, what exercise in what order.
The program progresses in difficulty each week. While I have a few exercises where weight can be added, full resistance training is not in the program. (In order to effectively program that, I like to work more closely with someone.) No specific equipment, outside of what you’d have around your house (e.g. a wall), is needed.
Many will be happy to know there is zero glute bridging in this and zero hip flexor stretching! (At least not in the way it’s usually done.)
Resistance training recommendations
However, I have a section in the spreadsheets going over things I would do and would avoid resistance training wise. I discuss things like:
- Bench Pressing
- Various pulling exercise (pull-ups, chin-ups, seated row, etc.)
For things I recommend avoiding, I give alternatives. This way, should you choose, you can mix in some resistance training as you see fit. Just keep in mind the manual has one goal: Minimize lumbar extension during various movements.
There are also sections on-
- Basic footwear advice
- A checklist
- This is to help surmise everything, and more easily keep a person on track