Anterior Pelvic Tilt [APT] is a forward rotation of the pelvis. When the pelvis is not in proper alignment [neutral] the whole system is thrown off and can affect everything from foot pain to shoulder posture. APT is becoming more prominent these days, mostly thanks to two main reasons:
An increase in sitting time / sedentary lifestyle
Poor postural habits that are a direct result of adaptation to your lifestyle
Sitting for long periods of time, without proper lumbar support, shortens and tightens the hip flexor which pulls the pelvis forward. Simultaneously, the hamstrings, core muscles and gluteals lengthen and become weak, further contributing to an exaggerated lumbar curve with an increased risk of lower back pain due to muscular imbalances and postural dysfunction.
Do I have Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
The most telltale signs that you have APT are:
Your hips tilt forward
You have an excessive arch in your lower back
Your bum sticks out [aka Donald Duck bum]
Your stomach protrudes out [rib flare]
Your shorts/pants will be diagonal to the floor [with the front angled downwards not horizontal]
What muscular imbalances does Anterior Pelvic Tilt cause?
Tight hip flexors
Tight lower back
Now, some people are born with a pelvis that naturally tips a little forward. For most of us, APT is a maladaptation to habitual posture, prolonged sitting time and working 9-5 at the office. Proper alignment of all the major joints and a neutral pelvis is crucial for proper exercise performance, reducing risk of injury, fixing back pain and basically being a supple leopard.
How can I fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
I have coached a lot of clients with APT, and in my experience, training for strength is the most effective way to correct lumbopelvic posture. A mistake I see many people making is constantly stretching their hip flexors because they're tight. It seems to make sense on the surface, the hip flexors are short so let's make them longer by stretching. However, stretching these muscles doesn't address the reason why they're tight. Also, it can lead to more back pain. Instead of stretching the hips, strengthen the posterior tilt [i.e the opposite of anterior tilt].
Here are the best exercises to fix APT. For a video with some examples on how to fix APT, click here.
Master Posterior Pelvic Tilts
The lying pelvic tilt is a great first movement to practice. Push your lower back into the ground to train how to engage your abs and restore good pelvic balance. If you cannot posteriorly tilt your pelvis then you should not be doing barbell back squats, hip thrusts, deadlifts or overhead shoulder pressing as the chances are you are excessively arching your lower back.
Foam Roll Tight muscles to release them
Place your gluteal region on a foam roller / massage ball
Apply an appropriate amount of body weight
Roll forward and back over the glutes
Make sure to cover the whole area
Duration: 2 minutes each side
Quadriceps [left picture]
Apply pressure on your thighs using the foam roller.
Slowly roll your quads up and down the roller whilst creating motion with your arms.
Duration: 2 minutes each side.
TFL [top and bottom right pictures]
Apply pressure on the side of your thigh using the foam roller.
Slowly roll up and down the outside of your thigh working up to just below your hip bone and down to just above the knee
Duration: 2 minutes each side.
Strengthen the muscles that promote posterior pelvic tilt
Incorporate movements that challenge the core, glutes and hamstings. Ensure that you're performing correct pelvic alignment throughout every exercise.
Sets & Reps: 2-3 sets, 12-15 reps
Ensure correct pelvic alignment on all compound lifts [deadlifts, shoulder pressing, squats, rows etc.,]
As you can see below, there is an excessive curve present in the barbell row, the push up and the plank. Fix this position by squeezing your glutes, engaging your core and tucking your pelvis, otherwise you'll run a high risk of spinal damage.
The kettlebell front squat is a great alternative to the barbell back squat for those that suffer from APT. The anterior-loaded kettlebell means that your core is more engaged and that your pelvis is tucked with better glute activation.
Fixing APT takes time. To see better results be mindful of your postural habits throughout the day, particularly if you're sitting, look at buying a lumbar support [or roll up a towel and place it at the curve of your lower back].
Additionally, I like to tell my clients to always squeeze their glutes, so when in doubt, squeeze, no matter the exercise. Releasing and strengthening the glutes and increasing core strength is the best way to tackle APT alongside the exercises shown above.
Before I leave you to your APT homework, I want to emphasise that there are a wide range of "normal" alignments that we display without causing dysfunction or a cause for concern. Before you embark on a quest to perfect-pelvic-alignment, ensure that you assess your flexibility, mobility and strength to see if these areas are in need of attention.
Watch: 5 Easy Ways to Fix APT
Gemma, Generation Strength