Your pelvis helps you walk, run, and lift weight off the ground. It also contributes to proper posture.
An anterior pelvic tilt is when your pelvis is rotated forward, which forces your spine to curve. It’s often caused by excessive sitting without enough exercise and stretching to counteract the effects of sitting all day. If you have an anterior pelvic tilt you may notice that the muscles in the front of your pelvis and thighs are tight, while the ones in the back are weak. Your gluteus and abdominal muscles may also be weak. All of this can cause:
- lower back pain
- hip and knee pain
- incorrect posture
- forced hip and knee rotations
Luckily, there are several exercises that you can do at home to help your pelvis return to a pain-free neutral position.
The Thomas test
You can perform something called the Thomas test to see if you have an anterior pelvic tilt.
- Sit on the edge of a sturdy table.
- Lie back onto the table so that your legs hang off the table at the knee.
- Pull one of your legs in toward you, holding under your knee and bending your leg until it rests against your chest.
- Repeat with the other leg.
If your pelvis is correctly aligned, the back of your resting leg will touch the table when you get into this position.
If you need to extend the resting leg or rotate your leg or hip in order to touch the table, your front thigh muscles are tight. This likely signals a tilted pelvis.
Hip flexor stretch
This exercise will help relax the hip flexors and increase your hip flexibility.
- Step your left leg out in front of you and lunge until your right knee is resting on the ground. Place a towel under your knee if this is uncomfortable. Your left leg should make a 90-degree angle at your knee.
- Bring your pelvis forward by tightening your gluteus and abdominal muscles.
- Lean forward from your right leg until you feel tension in the hip flexor and inner thigh of your right leg
- Hold for 30 seconds, release, and repeat up to 5 times.
- Switch legs.
While in this stretch, you should feel no tension at the front of your thigh. The stretch shouldn’t hurt, but you should feel a slight tension in your hip flexors. Make sure to keep your pelvis slightly tilted throughout the whole stretch.
This exercise will strengthen your hamstrings and your gluteus muscles.
- Lie flat on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor and hip-width apart, arms by your sides.
- Push your heels into the floor as you lift your pelvis up off the floor until your upper body and thighs form a straight line.
- Hold for 2 seconds, lower down slowly, and repeat 8 to 12 times.
Make sure you tighten your gluteus and abdominal muscles while in this position to maintain a correct bridge alignment.
This exercise will help tighten your abdominals and stretch your back and your gluteus muscles.
- Get down on your hands and knees.
- Place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart. Align your hips with your knees.
- Make sure your back is parallel to the ground so your pelvis is in a neutral position.
- Pull your belly button in toward your spine and arch your back as you exhale.
- Hold for 2 seconds, and then bring your spine back to the neutral position.
- Extend one leg back and lift it until it reaches the same height as your body, so your lifted leg and body are in alignment. Keep your spine in a neutral position.
- Hold this position for up to 5 seconds, lower the leg, and repeat up to 10 times.
- Switch legs.
This exercise will strengthen your abdominal and gluteus muscles and condition your back muscles.
Make sure to keep your extended leg in line with your body. Arching your back too much can cause back pain.
This is a full-body exercise that helps strengthen the gluteus muscles, hamstrings, and quadriceps, among others.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward.
- Lower yourself to a sitting position until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Make sure you’re keeping your abs tight and your back in a neutral position.
- Push up to a standing position and move your pelvis slightly forward by tightening your gluteus muscles.
- Repeat 15 to 20 times.
As you squat, don’t let your knees go over your toes or rotate inward. Keep your back in a neutral position. Do not flatten the curve of your lower back or overly arch your back. Squeeze your abdominals and gluteus muscles.
Tip: look straight ahead and visualize that you are about to sit on a chair.
This exercise helps strengthen your abdominal muscles, and stretches the muscles in your lower back.
- Lie with your back on the floor in a neutral position with your legs bent and toes facing forward.
- Pull your belly button in toward your spine, pushing your pelvis up toward the ceiling.
- Tighten your gluteus and hip muscles as you tilt your pelvis forward. Hold for 5 seconds.
- Do 5 sets of 20 repetitions.
This exercise will help your spine get in the correct neutral position, so be sure to monitor your progress.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time without adequate stretching and strengthening exercises can cause an anterior pelvic tilt, which leads your spine to have an exaggerated curvature. In addition to affecting your posture, this condition can cause back and hip pain. You can correct an anterior tilt by using exercise, stretches, and massage.
If your job involves sitting for long periods, make sure to get up and do a few simple stretches, or try replacing a sit-down lunch with a walk.