ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT is a posture problem that affects almost anyone who sits a lot. Practically, your butt sticks out and your gut protrudes. Because this is a musculoskeletal issue, no amount of fat loss will get rid of that gut.
Anterior pelvic tilt is a fancy term that means your hip is tilted forward. The most common causes are sitting for long periods of time, getting into poor positions in daily life and lack of activity. Lets take a look at why your hip is tilted forward.
Quick note with regards anterior pelvic tilt:
Rotate hip forward = bad
Rotate hip backward = good
- Glutes: These are your main hip muscles which basically make up your butt.
- Hamstrings: The muscles on the back of your thigh.
- Abdominals and obliques: Part of your core, they aid in stabilizing the torso and hip
All these muscles work on rotating your hip backward:
- The glutes – which sit on your hip – pull on your thigh bone. So when the thigh bone is fixed/immobile, the hip gets pulled back/rotated backward. We’re focusing on the gluteus maximus pictured above.
- The abs pull upward on your hip upward from the front, which rotates your hip upward/backward.
- The hamstrings can pull down on the hip, which will rotate it backward.
Since these muscles all rotate your hip backward, when they become weak/inactive your hip rotates forward, and your butt sticks out.
Now you might wondering, if these muscles are rotating your hip backward, surely there are muscles that rotate the hips forward! And you would be correct. When those muscles become tight and overactive, they exert an unequal pull on the hip forcing it out of alignment.
Before we move on a bit, a quick primer on muscles. Muscles are elastic tissue that stretch and contract to generate force. Muscles often work in opposite pairs, for example: the bicep works to pull the forearm, while the tricep works to extend it.
So when the bicep is contracting, flexing and becoming short the tricep is extending, stretching and becoming long. If said tricep was really tight and couldn’t stretch all the way, then we couldn’t flex our bicep all the way. This doesn’t just affect movement, but passive posture. For example, if your bicep was really tight while your tricep was really weak you would end up with a slightly flexed elbow, at rest.
So onto the muscles that are overactive/tight in the case of anterior pelvic tilt:
- Hip Flexor: a mysterious muscle group that does most of the work when you do situps. The main player here is the psoas which connects from your spine to your thigh.
- Rectus femoris (quads): the muscle on the front of your thigh – part of the quadricep group.
- Spinal Erectors: a bundle of muscles and tendons running the length of your spine — not advisable to stretch.
Muscles often become tight and short either from being overactive or from being kept in the flexed/short position frequently. For example, when you sit down, your hip flexors are flexed and short. Keep them in that position long enough, as in a typical work day, and they lose their flexibility, become tight and you get anterior pelvic tilt (APT)
What causes muscle overactivity and anterior pelvic tilt?
Muscle overactivity commonly comes about as a compensation for other weak muscles. When one muscle group is weak and underactive, the other tends to pick up the slack and become overactive. The resulting imbalance often leads to pain and even injury. A great example of this is the relationship between the glutes and lower back: the glutes play an important role in stabilizing the hip and core. When they become weak, the lower back has to compensate and take on a role it wasn’t meant for. Lower back overactivity resulting from weak glutes is a major cause of back pain and tightness.
Before you start messing with your hips let’s do a quick run-through from the top down. Posture is not really about isolating a single body part, since it’s all connected.
Anti-Anterior Pelvic Tilt Posture
- Feet in “V” a foot apart
- Knees slightly bent
- Hide ribs, pull belly button to spine
- Flex butt “scoop” tailbone
- Chest up
- Pull shoulders down Shoulders back
- Arms by your side, palms facing forward
- Back tall and straight
- Feet shoulder width apart
- Weight distributed on the arches of your feet
Okay, got all that? No? Well, start practicing! It’s a great way to cue good posture.
So having done that, how do we get the hip to unstick itself?
- Flex your glutes, we practiced that a lot already!
- Flex your abs and pull your stomach in. Imaging your abs connected to your hip and your hip pulling upward as you flex and suck them in.
- Flex your glutes and hamstrings some more: you should feel your thighs slightly turn outwards and your pelvis coming a bit more forward.