Do you have excessive curvature in the lower spine? Do you have tightness in your lower back or hips? This is a common sign of an anterior pelvic tilt: exactly what is said on the tin, your pelvis is tilted forward. Whilst a large amount of the population (85% Men, 75% Women) has anterior pelvic tilt. This has been widely researched as a prediction of injury or even, a method of injury. This term often presents symptoms of excessive tightness in the lower back, hip flexors hamstrings and quadriceps muscles. Which in turn, can place excessive strain on the lumbar spine complex.
What is Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
The front of the pelvis is tilted downward and forward so the back of the pelvis is raised. Anterior pelvic tilt is thought to be caused by lack of flexibility and or lack of strength. It affects posture and the shape of the spine and may lead to other symptoms. Because of its tilted positioning, anterior pelvic tilt can be broken down into modifiable factors such as flexibility and strength.
Flexibility can be associated as one of the main factors when it comes to diagnosing anterior pelvic tilt. Due to the nature of modern lifestyle, a large amount of the population spends excessive periods of time in a seated position that can lead to the shortened lower back, hip flexors and quadricep muscles. Failure to address these tight areas can be problematic both in your chosen health and fitness regime of lifting withing the gym.
Strength can also be associated with the main factors when diagnosing anterior pelvic tilt. The muscle groups in charge of maintaining posterior tilt stability is the gluteal complex and the rectus abdominus that often become weak during extended periods of sitting and lack of attention to contracting these muscle groups. Failure to support the pelvis posteriorly will lead in the tight muscles overriding and drawing the hips downwards and forwards.
How can this impact movement and being able to train optimally?
Anterior pelvic tilt can be a contributing problem to decreased muscular function. Firstly, the muscles that are in a lengthened pre-tensioned position will be exerting energy to maintain contractile strength in the outer range. When this is then asked to lengthen or to contract further, both power output and endurance will be limited. Risk of injury therefore may increase as muscles are forcefully placed in a greater outer range past their current tolerance.
Whilst an injury may not be present at that moment in time, the future injury risk is most likely going to occur. Your ability train without further irritation is to relieve the tight structures and strengthen the weak muscles. As your hip and core strength gradually improves, and flexibility improves over time, your tolerance to work in these outer ranges will improve.
How to treat Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Treatment for anterior pelvic tilt is mainly focused on addressing the tight structures and strengthening the weaker muscle groups in order to modify the position of the pelvis.
When observing posture in those in a prolonged seated position, an excessive extension of the lumbar spine is associated with an anterior pelvic tilt, relaxation of the core muscles (primarily rectus abdominus) and reduced glute activation volume (decrease in buttock muscle activation and mass). Here are some exercises you can include to improve your hip and core strength.
Start by placing your forearms on the ground, elbows under shoulders and feet together and knees fully extended (knees on the ground if you need to make it easier). Focus on rotating the hips backwards and contract the buttocks and core (as if someone was going to punch you). Now, focus on closing the distance between the ribs and the top front of the pelvis to truly engage the core hold this position for the specified time.
Start by placing your feet together and lay on your back with a band around your knees. Now, push your knees far apart whilst maximally squeezing the buttocks. Finally, lift your hips up off the ground towards the ceiling and squeezing the buttocks again maximally whilst slowly returning to the start position and repeat.
In a standing positioning the forward tilt from the short hip flexors and lower back muscles anchors the pelvis in place putting the hamstrings in a lengthened position: meaning that, to maintain some control, the hamstring becomes stretched whilst under tension, similarly seen by the rectus abdominus (abs). Therefore, attention to the hip flexors and lower back muscles will be key to allowing the hip to return to a more suitable position.
The Greatest Stretch In The World
Soft tissue release
Lower Back Ball Release
Other ways to treat and prevent anterior pelvis tilt.
- Having a regular massage or foam rolling will reduce tightness and pain associated with anterior pelvic tilt.
- Avoid doing things that provoke pain associated with anterior pelvic tilt: prolonged sitting can be very irritating, so modifying your routine, taking regular breaks so you do not need to sit.
- Warm-up the hip muscles before exercise and stretch at the end of each training session.
It is apparent that to ensure that the pelvis is positioned in an optimal position for your individual needs, a comprehensive approach to understanding the cause and how to reverse these factors will be the key to the long term success of tackling anterior pelvic tilt and the associated aches and pains as a result.
If you are struggling to progress with this injury, we have space for you within our online coaching platform in which one of our therapists will take you through an injury assessment and consultation to understand the problematic issues and work with you to build a programme that works around your lifestyle to ensure you get back to moving more, pain-free.
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