Posterior pelvic tilt and posture
Body imbalances often occur from a lack of movement, especially for people who sit most of the day. This lack of movement contributes to:
- weak and tight leg muscles
- shortened tendons around the pelvic bones
- improper balance
- poor posture
All of these factors can cause a posterior pelvic tilt. This is when your glutes tuck inwards and the upper body rounds back.
Like an anterior pelvic tilt, where the lower back arches inward, a posterior pelvic tilt puts a lot of stress on your lower back. This can eventually lead to pain all over the body, including sciatica, which is pain that runs down the back of one of your glutes or thighs.
It’s possible to correct a posterior pelvic tilt with exercise. Learn five exercises you can do to help create strong leg and abdominal muscles to improve your posture.
Lunges build up your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Strong leg muscles can help correct a posterior anterior lift by preventing any one muscle from dominating.
- Stand with feet together and step your right leg out in front of you.
- Bend the right leg at a 90-degree angle. Your other knee should touch the floor with your right leg still at a 90-degree angle. A mirror can help you check your position. Push off your right foot to return to the starting position.
- Step forward with your left leg and form a 90-degree angle to touch your right knee to the floor.
- Repeat for 3 sets of 10–15 lunges.
Caution: Do not bend your knees past your toes, which can hurt your knees. If you have bad knees, you may want to skip lunges and work on other leg exercises instead.
Static hamstring stretch
Hamstrings are the three back muscles on your legs. Sitting and standing for a long time can cause them to get tight, which may lead to bad posture. Weak hamstrings will also put your body into a less stable position.
- Sit in a hard chair without a cushion, and stretch out one leg in front of you.
- Bend down and reach for your toes until you feel a slight stretch.
- Hold for 10–30 seconds.
- Switch to the other leg and repeat on the other side.
Caution: You can pull your back muscle if you go down too far into the stretch. Make sure you don’t overdo it. If a chair is too difficult for you, try moving this exercise to the floor.
This exercise is called the “superman” because it looks like a superhero in flight. It can help strengthen your lower back and gluteus maximus muscles connected to your pelvis.
- Lie on the floor on your stomach and stretch your arms out in front of you.
- Lift your chest off the floor and try to hold that position for 30 seconds. Then lower.
- Repeat this for 3 sets with a 10-second break in between.
Caution: If you have a bad back, it’s best to skip this exercise. You also may want to lay a towel or a mat down on the floor to make this exercise more comfortable.
Leg raises are a simple exercise you can do to strengthen your core, which gives your body the ability to stand up straighter. You can also practice crunches in place of leg raises to build your core.
- Lie flat on the floor with your legs straight. Slowly raise your legs as high as you can without allowing your lower back to arch off the floor.
- Slowly lower them back down. Keep your arms flat right next to your body.
- Try not to move any part of your body except for your legs. This is how you will develop your core muscles, because your abdomen is doing all the work.
Caution: There is little risk when performing this exercise. It’s more difficult to pull a muscle in a leg raise than it is with the other posterior tilt exercises mentioned. If it’s painful keeping your legs straight when raising them, keep them at a slight bend instead.
Foam rolling for calves
Also called self-myofascial release, foam rolling is essentially like massage therapy. It’s a great postworkout stretch to help relieve tension in various parts of your body. You can purchase foam rollers online or at sporting goods stores. Foam rolling breaks up the fascia, or the connective tissue beneath the skin that is necessary for proper movement. You can foam roll any part of your body, but focusing on your legs may help posterior pelvic tilt.
- Lay on your side and put the foam roller under your calf area.
- Slowly roll the foam roller up your calf and focus on any “hot spot.” This is an area where you feel extra tension or tightness.
- Roll over this area for 30 seconds.
- Switch legs and perform the same movement. You can also do the same for your thighs.
- For more pelvic focus and benefit, lie on your back and move the foam roller up the back of your leg.
- Roll the foam up your hamstrings and to your glutes. Sit on any hot spots and focus rolling on that area. Switch legs and do it again.
- Finally, move the foam roller to your back and roll it up your back, stopping to focus on any areas of extra tension.
Although you may feel pain at times, foam rolling can feel relaxing and serve as a form of massage. You can also foam roll across your middle back and massage your spine.
The bottom line
Movement is essential to keeping yourself healthy. A sedentary lifestyle with little movement can increase your risk of back pain, poor posture, and more. Incorporating these simple exercises into your daily routine can help your body move better, stand taller, and support itself.