Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT) is a very common postural condition. It looks like the pelvis rotates forwards. Imagine your pelvis as a bucket full of water. If that bucket is inclined forwards, the water will leak out of it in front. The similar thing happens with posterior pelvic tilt where the water from our bucket will leak in the back side. In the human body a deeper lumbar lordosis becomes prominent, bad posture appearance, overactive muscles with other weakened and other unpleasant results due to APT. We don't want any of those defects to happen, so we need to find a way to fix your tilt. Yoga is known as the best way to improve posture and overall wellbeing, and in this article we will go deeper to see what happens in your body during APT and how to manage it with yogic posture correction.
Why We Should Fix APT?
1. To correct chronic lower or middle back pain 2. To avoid hip pain 3. To avoid injuries, as Anterior pelvic tilt causes muscle imbalances (very important if you are lifting weights or intense training) 4. To improve posture- fix that lumbar lordosis and those rounded shoulders
5. To look better, as with APT belly will always stick out, no matter how fit you are.
Causes of Anterior Pelvic Tilt:
Prolonged sitting – hip flexors also get very tight from all day long sitting positions,
Wrong sitting posture in anterior pelvic tilt,
Wrong exercising, including abs- 90% of abs exercises overwork the hip flexors
Left AIC pattern
Fix your height- rounded shoulders and slouched upper back are common with APT
Anterior Pelvic Tilt And What Goes Wrong in the Kinetic Chain
Muscles Involved in Anterior Pelvic Tilt The pelvic is one of the balance point of the spine which is the most important structure in our body and its position and stability is of greatest importance to our health. For this reason the whole body is engaged in its protection. For example, if the pelvis is not aligned properly, the body will compensate with creating imbalances anywhere else in order to keep the spine well protected. Anterior Pelvic Tilt is a sign that some muscles are out of their balance. If this is the case, not only the postural appearance looks unpleasant but chronic lower back pain also reminds that it's time for change. With APT the core and glutes are weak, while in order to compensate this, the hip flexors and erectus spinae overwork and become too tight. A tight erectus spinae means shortening and combined with the weak abdominals cause an increased curve of lumbar lordosis. This curve may start irritating spinal nerves in the compressed area from where your annoying low back pain start bothering you.
Overactive Muscles (Need stretching):
Iliopsoas (with other hip flexors)/ Work on hips
Erector spinae/ Work on Low back
Internal Hip Rotators/ Work on hip flexors
Underactive Muscles (Need strengthening):
Hamstrings and glutes
Abductors and External Hip Rotators
During exercise caution:
Overstretching the hamstrings- Listen to your body when it tells you where to stop. Start from neutral pelvic position while stretching the hamstrings.
Core training that involves hip flexors- If the muscles of your abdomen are weak and you exercise them involving the iliopsoas, there is a fair chance that you will perform them incorrectly. It is crucial to remember to keep your pelvis tilted backwards by:
1. Contracting the abs
2. Not curving lower back – keep your lower back flat grounded
3. Not allowing your hips to draw back
The Iliopsoas plays an important role as stabilizer of the spine. Make sure to keep it in good condition at all times.
Tight Hip Flexors and APT With Anterior Pelvic Tilt, you may want to understand deeper the function of your hip flexors. The hero here that greatly affects your pelvic tilt is m.Iliopsoas, playing equal role in both- PPT and APT if left too tight. Anyways we need to open it and tone it. Apart from m.Iliopsoas, other hip flexors are also involved:
Mm. iliopsoas (m. psoas major, m. psoas minor and m. iliacus) – It is a MAIN HIP FLEXOR which 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 the hip externally, while in hip extension and adduction it rotates the hip internally.
Tensor fasciae latae- hip internal rotator, abductor
Sartorius -abductor, hip external rotator
Due to the hyper-lordosis caused by APT your iliopsoas will be constantly pulled, meaning it will become easily fatigued. Sometimes stretching further this stressed our muscle is not very wise. Instead, first, try to increase blood circulation in the area prior any stretching asanas. Hip Internal Rotators and APT Anterior Pelvic tilt may result in hip internal rotation, leading to femoral internal rotation –in other words, knees rotate inwards. In its turn this leads to tibial internal rotation, in the end resulting in subtalar joint pronation or flat feet. If we focus on the hips to correct this issue, we must create flexibility in the hip flexors as we strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. They help to tilt the pelvis posteriorly, in this way rotating the femur externally, which externally rotates the tibia, resulting in more supination of the foot- no more flat feet, and eventually, the body's kinetic chain goes back to perfect. But why knees may rotate inwards? The answer here is- mainly
because of tight tensor fasciae latae (TFL) and gluteus medius. Muscles that are also involved in internal hip rotation are:
Adductor longus, brevis, and magnus (inner thighs)
Pectineus (upper thigh)
Furthermore, when the internal rotators are tight, they tend to limit the external rotation of the hip joint. This may result in tight hamstrings. What does this mean? It means that additionally, we must try to improve the external hip rotation by stretching the internal hip rotators or simply-Internal Hip Rotators Lengthening= Better External Hip Rotation Additionally, piriformis contributes to internal hip rotation. It is a deep external hip rotator muscle. Good to know is that when the hip is flexed over 90°, the position of the muscle changes – with an internal rotator force on the thigh bone (femur). For this reason it's obvious why lengthening of the piriformis is important when you want to work on your external hip rotation. Yoga poses, such as one-legged pigeon (eka pada rajakapotasana), reclined pigeon pose (supta kapotasana) or supine spinal twist (parivartanasana) feel great.
Strengthening of the abductors is equally crucial for posture correction in anterior pelvic tilt. Here the side plank pose (vasishthasana) if very beneficial- strengthens the abductors, the core and abs. Being able to hold vasishthasana with one leg lifted for 30 sec without trouble means that your abductors are fine.
Yoga Asanas for Fixing Anterior Pelvic Tilt
- Shalabhasana- toning those glutes and lower back;
Purvottanasana- while activating the psoas and the glutes, it stretches the whole front side of the chest
Chaturanga Dandasana- strengthens the core;
Anjaneyasana+ variation- stretches the hip flexors;
Pavanmuktasana (standing and supine)- stretches the glutes, strengthens and compresses the abs, giving a nice massage of the internal organs, gas relief;
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana- stretches the quads, the internal hip abductors, psoas and iliacus;
Paryankasana- opens up the hip flexors and quads,
Setu Bandhasana-strengthens the muscles on the back and the glutes; stretches the quads;
Uttanasana- lengthens the hamstrings, stretches the calf muscles and piriformis;
Paschomottanasana- stretches erector spinae, the glutes, hamstrings; stretch from head to plantar fascia;
Bhadrasana-opens up the groin area and different abductors,
Parsvottanasana- stretches the back muscles, the hamstrings, the adductors, the calf muscles, the glutes;
Prasarita Padottanasana- opens up the glutes, hamstrings, adductors, calf.
Dandayamna Bharmanasana- strengthens the core, psoas, hamstrings, glutes;
Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)- tones the core, iliacus, psoas major, glutes, piriformis, adductors, quads;
Virabhadrasana 3-strengthens the core, psoas, hamstrings, glutes, spinal extensors;
Natarajasana- stretches and strengthens the hips, stretches the psoas, stretches and strenghtens the abs and the back;
Ardha Badha Padmottanasana (sitting or standing)-opens up glutes, hip rotators; strengthens the core and erectus spinae;
Hasta Padangushthasana- The calf muscles are stretching, tibalis anterior- the muscle which draws the foot up is contracting; the gacillis and adductor magnus (muscles of the back side of the hip) are elongating too; the iliacus and hamstrings are stretching; the gluteus maximus (in the buttocks) extends the hip and thigh.
Padahastasana- similar to Uttanasana,
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward facing dog)- Creates flexibility in the back, hamstrings, glutes and calves; strengthens the abs, triceps and quads;
Utthita Hasta Padangushthasana 1, 2, 3,
Supta Hasta Padangushthasana- flexion and extensions of the hips, glutes, hamstrings;
Navasana- strenghtens the abs and psoas;
Balasana- lower back and hams extension;
Marjariasana- Cat and Cow pose- improves posture and flexibility; relieves low back pain and sciatica;
Bakasana and all the other arm balancing poses- tone the core without engaging the hips too much.
As you can see there are many yoga asanas helping in improving anterior pelvic tilt. You should be aware that not only the above mentioned yoga poses work wonders in APT but also other asanas and yogic techniques. The list is long and I can't fit everything in one single post. My advice is, if you already suffer from APT and want to fix your posture, just start doing yoga regularly. Besides from healing, it feels so good.