Your pelvis is what helps you do many things in your every day life; run, walk, lift weights, stand. The pelvis is what connects your trunk to your legs and is responsible for keeping everything in place as you’re doing your every day activities. When you have an anterior pelvic tilt, your pelvis is rotated forward, creating a curve in your spine that can result in a lot of pain in the lower back. If not fixed, it can create bigger problems as the spinal curve becomes more aggressive, resulting in pain when you walk, sit down, sleep, and lift things (heavy or not). Due to the forward tilt of your pelvis, the muscles in front of your pelvis (quads predominantly) tend to be tighter, whereas the muscles in the back of your pelvis (gluteus, hamstrings) tend to be weaker and more stretched.
Why is it important to fix it?
Having an anterior pelvic tilt can create problems when you’re training. You become prone to injury for anything you do, even for something as mundane as walking, since your pelvis is responsible for keeping your trunk balanced. Should your pelvis be imbalanced to begin with, walking can become dangerous. Training with with a severe anterior pelvic tilt is quite dangerous as well, since your core is weaker than normal and your posterior chain doesn’t engage properly, if at all.
IMPORTANT NOTE: not all lower back pain comes from an anterior pelvic tilt. To make sure this is the real issue behind your lower back pain, stand up straight in front of a mirror and turn sideways to see if your pelvis is tilted forward or not. If it’s tilted forward, simply contract your lower abdominals and glutes to spring the pelvis back up. Now, release again and stand normally without contracting your core or glutes. Does your pelvis tilt back forward naturally? If so, here are some things you can do to fix them.
Single Leg Movements for Posterior Chain
The posterior chain includes a group of muscles on the posterior of the body. With a severe forward pelvis tilt, your glutes and hamstrings become weaker than normal. Your hamstrings are usually very stretched, which enhances the weakness in your posterior chain. In order to fix the forward pelvis tilt, we want to tighten and strengthen the posterior chain. This will bring down the back of the pelvis, which is sprung up due to the forward tilt.
Single leg movements will reduce your chances of injury and ensure proper posterior chain engagement. It’s important to perform these exercises slowly and always drive through the heel (you’ll understand why I say that in a few seconds).
Start with both feet together and slowly bring the left leg back. Bring your knee to the ground, keeping the weight on your right heel. Slowly come back to the starting position and repeat 15 times per side, 2-3 sets. When done properly, you should feel your glutes and hamstrings working. Start by adding this exercise as a warm-up to your leg workout. No weights.
Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Bring your left foot back, slightly touching the ground to help keep your stability. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand to execute the movement. Start by doing a proper hip hinge, transferring your bodyweight to your right heel. Bend your right knee slowly and bring the dumbbell down mid-shin. Consciously contract your right buttock by pushing through your right heel, and come back up to the starting position. Repeat the movement on both side, 12 reps for 2-3 sets. When done properly, you should feel your glutes burning! Add it to your leg day routine to strengthen your posterior chain.
Single Leg Straight Leg Deadlift
Phew! That’s a mouthful. This movement is very similar to the previous one. The only important difference is in the bending of the knee. Following the name of the exercise, it’s important to keep your leg as straight as possible as you bring the dumbbell mid-shin, to target and isolate your hamstrings. Drive through the heel to come back to the starting position, consciously contracting the hamstrings and glutes. Repeat the movement on both side, 15 reps for 3 sets. When done properly, you should feel your hamstrings burning! Add it to your leg day routine.
Assisted Pistol Squats
This movement is great to minimize injury when squatting and to practice proper hip hinging. Use a box, chair, bench, or sofa to execute this movement. Place the right foot on the floor and use the left one as a prop for stability. Hip hinge and sit back on the box slowly, drive through your right heel to get back up without swinging your upper body. This is very important because swinging will interfere with the purpose of this exercise. We want your posterior chain to contract and engage enough to get you back up standing straight. Repeat the movement on each side, 15 reps, 3 sets. Add weight when you feel ready.
Core Activation Prior to Exercising
Seeing that the abdominals are linked to the pelvis, having the pelvis tilted forward results in stretched out abdominals, resulting in a weak core. Most of the time, the lower abdominals are the ones that lack in strength. Proper core activation prior to exercising is crucial to fix any imbalance and to reduce your chances of injury.
I would recommend doing these exercises in the morning as well to help fix the anterior pelvic tilt faster.
Lie on your back on a mat with your arms above your torse and your legs elevated and bent at 90-degrees. Lower your right arm and left leg toward the floor in a slow and controlled motion. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side with your left arm and right leg. You can let your head rest on the mat or lift it off the floor to create extra contraction in the upper abdominals. Do 15 reps per side, 3 sets.
This one is great to target the lower abdominals and release pressure in your lower back. To perform the cat roll, get on your hands shoulder-width apart and knees hip-width apart. Relax your abdomen before arching your back up, while contracting the lower abdominals and keeping your shoulders aligned with your wrists. Hold for 2-3 seconds and relax back to the starting position. Repeat 20 times, twice, before starting your workout.
Get on your hands shoulder-width apart and knees hip-width apart. Engage your core. Extend your right arm and left leg simultaneously without swinging from side to side. Come back to the starting position and repeat movement with your left arm and right leg. Repeat 12 times per side, twice, before starting your workout.
Glute Activation Prior to Exercising
As mentioned earlier, the posterior chain, which includes the group of muscles referred to as glutes, is weak when your pelvis is tilted forward. To help fix that, it’s recommended to properly activate the glutes prior to exercising, to reduce your chances of injury. These activation exercises are also very important to strengthen and shorten your muscles so that the pelvis can be brought down, to its levelled position, in the back.
Elevated Single Leg Glute Bridge
To perform this exercise, you will need a box, bench, chair, or sofa. Lie down on your back with your knees bent. Put your left foot on the box and keep your other right one elevated. Keep your upper back on the floor, engage the glutes, drive through the left heel and raise your hips off the mat until your knee, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze at the top for 3 seconds and go back down to the starting position. Do 20 reps on each side, three times.
This movement is similar to the one above, except both feet are on the floor and you’re raising your hips off the ground by driving through both heels. Notice how my toes are pointing up, to ensure that the heels are the ones doing the pushing, thus properly engaging the glutes. You can add a resistance band to this exercise to create more tension. Do 20 reps, three times.
Frog Glute Bridges
This one is a little bit weirder to perform, but it’s a great exercise to activate the gluteus medius (outer part of the glutes). To do it, start by lying down on your back with your feet together and knees apart, as shown in the video. Keeping your upper back on the floor, push your heels together and raise your hips. As you raise your hips off the ground, make sure your knees are pushing down towards the floor to properly engage the gluteus medius. Hold for three seconds at the top, repeat. Do 20 reps, three times.
These are a few of the exercises you can perform to help alleviate any and all lower back pain you may have due to an anterior pelvic tilt. To fix a pelvis tilt, it’s important to do the exercises mentioned above often. It’s not a quick fix. Repetition is going to be your best friend here! Do them slow, do them often, do them well.