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Pelvic Tilt: All You Need to Know.

Pelvic tilt is a common condition that can cause pain and discomfort in the lower back (lumbar spine) and pelvis. There are two types of pelvic tilt, anterior pelvic tilt (forward) and posterior pelvic tilt (backward). Anterior pelvic tilt is more common and is often the result of tightness in the hip flexors and/or weak glutes. Posterior pelvic tilt is less common and is usually the result of weak abs and/or tight hamstrings.

Pelvic tilt will affect your posture, core strength, and athletic performance (depending on what type of tilt you have).

There are several ways to treat pelvic tilt, depending on the cause. Stretching and strengthening exercises may be recommended if it is due to muscle imbalance. If it is due to a structural problem, such as a herniated disc or scoliosis, treatment may involve surgery.

Pelvis and Hip Joint: What are we looking at?

Pelvis tilt and rotation can indicate an imbalance with the flexors (muscles at the front of the thigh) and extensors (muscles at the back of the thigh) of the pelvis.

Knowing the landmarks of the pelvis can assist understanding pelvic tilt

The pelvis is the base for your entire upper body. The support determines how movement is dispersed throughout the body and how your spine performs. The position of your pelvis will indicate what type of movement you can do and in which direction it may go.

Landmarks of the pelvis that are important in understanding pelvic tilt are:

  • Anterior Superior Iliac Spine (ASIS) – The “pointy” part of your hip bone that you can feel in the front of your pelvis.
  • Anterior Inferior Iliac Spine (AIIS) – The point below the ASIS. It can be harder to feel due to the muscles that sit above it.
  • Posterior Superior Iliac Spine (PSIS) – The “dimply” part of your hip bone that you can feel in the back of your pelvis.
  • Iliac Crest – The top border of your hip bone.
  • Pubic Symphysis – The front “midline” joint of your pelvis.
  • Ischial Tuberosities – The “sitting bones” you feel when sitting on a hard surface.

What is Pelvic Tilt?

Pelvic tilt is the angle created between the pelvis and the thighs when viewed from the side. Pelvic tilts can be caused by muscle imbalances, structural problems, or both.

Muscle Imbalance

One of the most common causes of pelvic tilt is muscle imbalance. Change can be due to: 

  • Tightness in the hip flexor muscles and/or weak glutes, or 
  • Weakness in the abs and/or tightness in the hamstrings. 
  • When these muscles are out of balance, they can pull the pelvis into an anterior or posterior tilt.

Structural Problems

Another common cause of pelvic tilt is a structural problem, such as a herniated disc or scoliosis. These problems can cause the pelvis to tilt forward or backward, depending on the location of the problem.

Pelvic Tilt, Abdominal Muscles, and Core Strength

Pelvic tilt will affect your posture, core strength, and athletic performance (depending on what type of tilt you have).

Pelvic tilt also has an impact on your core strength. When the pelvis is in a neutral position, the abdominal muscles and back muscles can work together to provide stability. However, when the pelvis is tilted, these muscles (particularly the Transversus Abdominis) have to work harder to stabilize the spine. This can lead to fatigue and pain in the low back and abdomen.

Pelvic tilt and the lumbar spine

Pelvic tilt can also cause problems with the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine will also tend to arch when the pelvis is tilted forward. This can lead to pain and/or injury in the low back. The lumbar spine will tend to round (flatten the lumbar curve) when the pelvis is tilted backward. This can also lead to pain and/or injury in the low back.

Pelvic Tilt and Human Movement

Pelvic tilt has a direct impact on human movement. When the pelvis is in a neutral position, the thighs can move freely in all directions. When the pelvis is tilted, however, the range of motion in the thighs is restricted. This can lead to compensation and/or pain in other areas of the body, such as the knees, hips, and low back.

Why Is It So Important To Know The Position of your pelvis?

The pelvis is the key to the wellbeing of the individual

Anterior and Posterior Pelvic Tilt

When you have a clear understanding of the pelvis’ position, you can begin to correct imbalances throughout your entire body. Good posture and an overall sense of wellbeing are reliant on having a balanced pelvis.

While it may seem our goal is to understand the whole body when discussing posture, we need to target the pelvis first to establish lasting change.

Creating support from the bottom up will be more effective in carrying any changes made higher up through your skeleton structure.

How does pelvis tilt affect your posture?

Pelvic tilt has a significant impact on your posture. When your pelvis tilts too far forward or too far backwards, it can alter your spine’s natural curve, creating a cascade effect up and down the body.

Anterior pelvic tilt may cause your pelvis to shift forward and your belly to protrude. This can lead to lower back pain and excessive lumbar lordosis (an excessive curve in the low back). Posterior pelvic tilt, on the other hand, may cause your hips to shift backward and a rounding of the spine. This can lead to Thoracic Kyphosis (an excessive curve in the upper back) and dowager’s hump (rounding of the upper back).

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

As mentioned above, anterior pelvic tilt occurs when the pelvis tilts forward and can be caused by tight hip flexor muscles and/or weak abdominal muscles.

The hip flexors are a group of muscles that attach the pelvis to the lower spine and femur (thigh bone). They allow you to bend at the waist and bring your knees up toward your chest.

When these muscles are tight, they can pull on the pelvis and tilt it forward. This puts strain on the lower back and can lead to pain.

An anterior pelvic tilt can cause:

Effects of Anterior Pelvic Tilt on your Posture

Anterior tilted pelvis

People with an anterior pelvic tilt may experience low back pain, hip pain, or knee pain. In addition, a pelvis that tilts forward will result in the spine curving into a more pronounced “C” shape. Finally, it can lead to poor posture: your head sits too ahead of your shoulders instead of being centered on top of them while sitting and standing up straight.

Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Posterior pelvic tilting occurs when the pelvis tilts backward and is most often caused by tight hamstring muscles or weak core muscles.

A posterior pelvic tilt can cause:

Effects of Posterior Pelvic Tilt on Posture

Posterior tilted pelvis

A posterior pelvic tilt can cause your lower back to “flatten”, causing a decreased lumbar lordosis. In addition, losing support at the pelvis may cause lower back pain and lead to slouching shoulders if the tilt isn’t corrected.

How Can Pelvic Tilt Affect Athletic Performance?

Pelvic tilt can affect your athletic performance in several ways:

  1. It can cause you to use muscles not meant to be used during certain activities.
  2. It can limit your range of motion, making it difficult to perform specific movements.
  3. It can lead to joint pain and discomfort.
  4. Poor pelvic alignment will affect everything from running to lifting techniques and many other activities requiring a stable pelvis, such as cycling and skiing.

How to manage Pelvic Tilt

While there is no one size fits all approach, you can employ a few strategies to help you along. This can be done by:

  • Strengthening the muscles that support the spine: Strong abdominal and back muscles will help to keep your spine in a neutral position.
  • Wearing supportive shoes: This will help to prevent your feet from rolling inward (pronation), which can lead to pelvic tilt.
  • Use proper lifting techniques: Be sure to keep your spine in a neutral position. Avoid rounding your back or arching it too much.
  • Stretching and foam rolling regularly: This will help to keep your muscles loose and prevent them from becoming tight.
  • Avoiding high-impact activities: If you have a history of back problems, avoid activities that jar your spine.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight can put a strain on your back and lead to pelvic tilt

Finally

Pelvic tilt is one of the most overlooked aspects when discussing your posture. Depending on the position of the pelvis, it can cause pain in different parts of your body and affect athletic performance. By educating yourself about what pelvic tilt is and how to fix it with exercises or stretches, you may avoid these problems altogether!

If you’ve been experiencing back pain, knee pain, hamstring tightness, or other issues related to pelvis alignment. Remember: if something doesn’t feel right, there may be an underlying reason for that feeling! As always, seek the assistance of a recognized health professional to discuss any concerns you may have.

Updated: September 28, 2022

PLEASE NOTE

PostureGeek.com does not provide medical advice. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical attention. The information provided should not replace the advice and expertise of an accredited health care provider. Any inquiry into your care and any potential impact on your health and wellbeing should be directed to your health care provider. All information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical care or treatment.