Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT) is a very common postural tendency. It occurs when the pelvis dips forward.
3 Main Reasons Why You Should Fix APT
Anterior Pelvic Tilt can cause middle and lower back pain or hip pain
APT causes imbalances in the muscles and can lead to injuries, especially important to take care of when you are lifting weights and training intensively
If you have Anterior Pelvic Tilt, it is more difficult to get a flat belly. It will always stick out, no matter how skinny you are.
The CAUSE of Anterior Pelvic Tilt
- Inactivity – hip flexors also get very tight from all day long sitting positions,
- Sitting in APT (anterior pelvic tilt),
- Wrong training,
- Wrong ABS training – 90% of abs exercises overwork hip flexor, especially when done improperly,
- Genetic predisposition,
- Foot pronation – FLAT FEET,
- Diaphragm – left AIC pattern,
Anterior Pelvic Tilt And Kinetic Chain
MUSCLE IMBALANCE in APT
The spine is the most important structure in our body and its stability is crucial to our health. This is why the body will protect the spine no matter what. Anterior Pelvic Tilt is a sign that the muscles are imbalanced. Our core and glutes are weak, while in order to compensate for this weakness, the hip flexors overwork.
TIGHT MUSCLES (overactive):
- Iiopsoas (and other hip flexors)
- Erector spinae
- Internal Hip Rotators
WEAK MUSCLES (underactive):
- Hamstrings + glutes
- Abductors and External Hip Rotators
WHAT TO AVOID:
- Stretching hamstrings,
- Abs training that involves hip flexors,
Remember that you should always listen to your body and not fanatically follow the above.
There are no wrong exercises. But the way you perform them might be harmful.
The Truth About What To Avoid
Should I Really Stop Stretching My Hamstrings?
Flexible hamstrings are essential to achieve splits or to kick high. This is why regardless of my APT I have been stretching this group of muscles quite a lot in the past few years and possibly because of that I have eventually pulled my right hamstring and got injured.
But it doesn’t mean that I have stopped stretching my hamstrings forever. I just do it now more consciously. I noticed that stretching my hip flexors and my buttocks (including glutes and internal rotators) before starting hamstring stretches is a great way to avoid hamstring pain and is more effective in gaining flexibility.
Moreover, when I am stretching hamstrings, I try to have my pelvis tilted posteriorly. In that way I also stretch lower back muscles, like the erector spinae, which at the end turned out to be very beneficial for my flexibility as well as my muscle condition.
Should I Really Stop Abs Exercises That Involve Iliopsoas?
Don’t perceive M.Iliopsoas only as a tight muscle that you should keep stretching all day long. Every single muscle requires both elongation and contraction to keep it healthy, also iliopsoas. If this main hip flexor is as weak as it is tight, do you really think only stretching it will fix the problem?
You can test iliopsoas flexibility and strength, but even more useful is to simply remember that involving iliopsoas in the exercises is not wrong. What is harmful is keeping the pelvis tilted forward and curving the lower back. That exerts pressure on the spine, causing pain and injury.
Seeing it in that way, there are no wrong ab exercises. It is just the way you perform them that can be harmful. If your abs are weak and you are performing ab exercises that involve iliopsoas (any abs that have hip flexion), there is a great chance that you will do them incorrectly.
Remember in every ab exercise keep your pelvis tilted backwards, meaning:
- Contract the abdomens towards the spine
- Don’t curve lower back – keep your back flat on the ground
- Don’t allow your butt to stick out
Iliopsoas is a very important muscle that stabilizes our trunk. This muscle needs to be and will be involved in our daily life as well as training.
TIGHT MUSCLES IN APT
Importance Of HIP FLEXORS In APT
If you want to fix your Anterior Pelvic Tilt, it is good to understand the function of your hip flexors. The main hip flexor that greatly affects your pelvic tilt is m.Iliopsoas. Both in PPT and APT this muscle might be tight. But apart from m.Iliopsoas, there are other hip flexors that are worth your attention. Keep reading to learn more.
There are 5 muscles responsible for flexing the hip:
- Mm.iliopsoas (m.psoas major, m.psoas minor and m.iliacus) – a MAIN HIP FLEXOR – it is connected to the lumbar spine and to the head of the hip. These muscles are the only hip flexors that can lift the hip over 90°
- Pectineus (also adductor. In hip flexion and abduction it rotates hip externally, in hip extension and adduction it rotates hip internally)
- Tensor fasciae latae (also hip internal rotator, abductor)
Should I Really Stretch Iliopsoas?
If you have an Anterior Pelvic Tilt (hyperlordosis) your psoas will be constantly pulled, which means it will become stressed and fatigue easily. Stretching an already pulled and stressed muscle is not the best idea. It makes much more sense to gently contract it first to increase the blood flow to the area, then relax it and only then try to loosen it up.¹
It is important to note that movement, while impacted by posture and tissue quality, is ultimately controlled by the central nervous system and therefore good movement patterns cannot be the result of stretching, but only of movement pattern practice (for which you might have to stretch). Or in other words: stretch if you have to, but then practice perfect movement to hammer it home.²
Importance Of HIP INTERNAL ROTATORS In APT
Anterior Pelvic tilt leads to hip internal rotation, which results in femoral internal rotation – knees go inwards, which then causes tibial internal rotation, leading to subtalar joint pronation – flat feet (this is presented in the kinetic chain above)
If you look to the hips to correct this problem, you will lengthen the hip flexors, strengthen the glutes and hamstrings, get them to do their jobs more efficiently, and everything might work themselves out. Glutes/hammies fire and help to posteriorly tilt the pelvis, which externally rotates the femur, which then externally rotates the tibia, causing more supination of the foot, and magically, everything goes to its right place.³
However, in all this talking we forget about the importance of the internal and external hip rotators, or actually the internal hip rotators as the main external hip rotator is Gluteus maximus.
Why Do People With APT Rotate Knees Inwards?
Not because of tight ILIOPSOAS
- Iliopsoas does not rotate hip inwards,
- Iliopsoas is a hip flexor and in abduction it also rotates the hip outside.
Muscles that also contribute to internal hip rotation:
- Gluteus minimus, when the hip is flexed (upper buttocks)
- Adductor longus, brevis, and magnus (inner thigh)
- Pectineus (upper frontal thigh)
- many of us underestimate how powerful the Vastus lateralis is as an internal rotator ⁵
CONSEQUENCE OF TIGHT INTERNAL HIP ROTATORS
When the internal rotators are tight, they can limit external rotation of the joint. That can lead to hamstring being tight and overwork. This is why in order to fix APT, you should also focus on improving external hip rotation by stretching listed above internal hip rotators.
Stretching Internal Hip Rotators
= Improving External Hip Rotation
is very benefitial when fixing an Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Why Stretching My Butt Brings Relief And Feels Good?
The main muscles of our butt are Glutes and deep hip external rotators, including piriformis. You already know that in APT we should strengthen our Glutes, especially Gluteus maximus. How come that stretching the butt feels so good?
Not only Gluteus maximus is a muscle of our butt. Also gluteus medius and minimus are part of the buttocks and they are internal hip rotators, which we already know we should stretch in APT.
BUT a more unknown fact is that the piriformis contributes to hip internal rotation as well. Piriformis is known as a deep external rotator muscle of the hip. However, when the hip is flexed beyond 90°, the position of the muscle changes – exhibiting an internal rotator force on the femur (leg bone).⁶
This detail explains why stretching piriformis muscle is important when you want to improve an external hip rotation, and this is why poses such as pigeon, reverse pigeon or supine spinal twist feel so good.
In conclusion, apart from stretching m.iliopsoas, we should also stretch internal hip rotators and our buttock.
WEAK MUSCLES IN APT
Yes, in APT we should strengthen abs, glutes and hamstrings. But, what most of us forgets are ABDUCTORS. Why should we strengthen abductors in APT?
We can find the answer in the kinetic chain – knees going inwards and foot pronation. Strengthening abductors plays an important role in fixing the above and what comes with that also the APT. This is why side plank exercises, such as side plank leg lift, side plank crunch and t-stabilisation, will greatly benefit our posture.
If you can hold side plank leg lift for 30 sec without trouble that means your abductors are strong. But if you cannot do that, your abductors are weak and including this exercise into your workout might be a solution for your postural problem. From my experience most people with APT have trouble with side plank leg lift. What is great about this pose is that it not only strengthens abductors, but also it strengthens core and abs without engaging iliopsoas.
Best Workout for Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Based on my experience with anterior pelvic tilt I have created a GREAT WORKOUT that combines all necessary stretches and strengthening exercises to fix this postural issue. Click on the image below and start improving your posture TODAY!