Have you ever looked at your stance in a full-length mirror and wondered why your butt sticks out so much? You might be seeing signs of anterior pelvic tilt, a common postural condition among people who sit a lot.
In physical therapy, we use a strategy of stretching and strengthening to fix anterior pelvic tilt. In this article I’ll show you three exercises you can do in about three minutes a day to improve your posture, front and back.
What is Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
“Anterior pelvic tilt” (APT) is an anatomical term for the way your pelvis looks when you stand straight. Ordinarily the pelvis faces forward, but if you have APT, it will skew downward instead.
A slight tilt might not sound so detrimental, but excessive APT, when left untreated, can cause significant back issues and pain. As the centerpoint of the body, your pelvis connects some of the largest bones and muscles in your legs and back. An excessive tilt may cause your lower back to arch or curve, putting extra strain on the lumbar discs in your vertebrae.
What causes anterior pelvic tilt?
Like many postural abnormalities, such as rounded shoulders or a dowager’s hump, the root cause of APT is usually muscular.
For example, your hip flexor muscles help move your legs forward whenever you walk or sit. If these muscles become tight from overuse (such as sitting for long periods of time), your pelvis may compensate by tilting forward, shortening the length of the muscle.
At the same time, excessive APT can result when certain muscles are insufficiently supportive. If you have weak core muscles (think abs, glutes, and hamstrings), you’ll be much more susceptible to excessive APT because your backside won’t have enough support to counteract the tilt.
There’s good news though. Muscle weakness is totally treatable, and with a couple stretches, you can loosen up your hip flexors and straighten up your pelvis.
How to Fix Excessive Anterior Pelvic Tilt: 3 exercises
The best strategy for getting rid of excessive APT is twofold: stretch the muscles that are too tight and strengthen the muscles that are too weak.
There are a myriad of moves that can help you accomplish either task, but the following three, when performed consistently, should do the trick.
1. Lunge Stretch
A lunge stretch will help you address the tight hip flexor muscles that are pulling your pelvis too far forward. By stretching these muscles, you can reverse one of the key contributors to excessive APT.
To begin, you’ll need to reset your hips so that you’re not in an anterior pelvic tilt. Stand tall and tighten your abdominals as you tilt your pelvis back. You can imagine you’re tucking your “tail,” if you had one. From here, try to maintain this corrected tilt as you lunge, bringing one leg forward and keeping the back leg straight.
If your hip flexors are particularly tight, you’ll immediately feel a nice stretch along the front of your straightened back leg. But to deepen the stretch, bend your back leg and lower your knee to the ground while maintaining the lunge in your front leg.
Make sure you continually engage your abdominal muscles as you do this so you can maintain upright posture. With both legs bent, you should definitely feel a stretch in that back leg’s hip flexor, but you can lean forward into the lunge for even more of a stretch.
Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, repeating 3 times on each leg.
2. Bird dog exercise
Engaging your abdominal muscles is easier when they’re stronger, and this exercise will help you strengthen your core so that it naturally counteracts APT.
To perform the bird dog exercise, get down on hands and knees and find a neutral hip position, so that your pelvis is not too extended and not too flexed. From here, brace your abdominal muscles as you extend one leg back, like a bird dog (or pointer dog). Try to avoid twisting your back as you alternate leg extensions, performing 10 on each side.
You can advance this move by lifting the opposite arm whenever you extend your leg. To maintain your balance, you’ll have to engage your abdominals further, making this exercise even more effective for strengthening weak abdominals and glutes.
3. Glute bridge
The third exercise targets the gluteus or butt muscles, and with a slight modification you can get even more bang for your butt—I mean buck.
Lie down on your back and tilt your pelvis so that you flatten your spine’s lumbar curve. This is called a posterior pelvic tilt, the antithesis of your APT problems and the starting point for a glute bridge.
Next, squeeze your glutes and lift your buttocks off the ground, achieving a straight line from your chin to your knees. Return to the starting point and repeat 10–20 more times.
If this becomes too easy, you can advance the exercise with a single-leg bridge. Start as you did before but straighten one leg, with knees in line, as you lift your buttocks off the floor.
Aim to do a single-leg glute bridge 10 times on each side, and repeat the exercise 3-4 times a day.
Easy Exercises to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt
It only takes 3 minutes to perform these 3 exercises, so they can easily become part of your daily routine. By regularly stretching your hip flexors and strengthening your core, you’ll improve your posture and, eventually, see a reduction in your anterior pelvic tilt.