Do you have a deep lower back arch that makes your belly stick out? You probably have an anterior pelvic tilt.
An anterior pelvic tilt is characterized by the front of the pelvis dropping down and the back of the pelvis tilting up, causing large arch in the lower back and a protruding belly. This can have a drastic effect on posture and can lead to issues that range from lower back pain and sciatica to upper back and neck pain. (1)
What Causes an Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
For most of us, the answer is simple: sitting too much and/or sitting with poor posture. When we sit often and for an extended period of time, a chain effect begins to happen. The hip flexors, tensor fasciae latae (TFL), lower back, and quadriceps become shortened and tight while the glutes, hamstrings, abdominals, and obliques become weak. This combination of muscle tightness and weakness pulls the pelvis forward into an anterior tilt.
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How to Tell if You Have an Anterior Tilt
Stand up and place your right hand around your right hip. Place your index finger on the bony hip point on the front of your pelvis, and then place your thumb on the bony point on the back of your pelvis. If the front finger is significantly lower than the back finger, then you know that you have an anterior pelvic tilt.
How to Fix an Anterior Pelvic Tilt
To bring your pelvis back into a neutral position, you’ll need to stretch and lengthen the tight hip flexors, TFL, lower back, and quads while strengthening weak glutes, hamstrings, abs, and obliques.
Start by taking note of your posture while sitting. Keep your abs engaged while seated at your desk, sit up straight, keep your shoulders back, and get up every hour to walk around for 10-15 minutes.
Then, engage in these five stretches and five exercises to help bring your pelvis back into neutral. The stretches can be done daily, then do the exercises directly after the stretches two to three times per week. All you need is a yoga mat!
5 Stretches for Anterior Pelvic Tilt
These stretches will combat tight hip flexors, tensor fasciae latae, lower back muscles, and quadriceps.
Runner’s Lunge | 30 sec per side
This stretch relieves tightness in the hip flexors, quadriceps, and lower back.
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Stack your shoulders over your wrists.
- Step your right foot up just outside of your right hand. Then, heel-toe your right foot forward and out so that your right ankle is slightly in front of your knees.
- Point your right toes out at a 45-degree angle.
- Draw your navel up and in towards your spin and press your hips forward so that you feel a stretch through your hip flexors.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch legs.
Crossed Ankle Forward Fold | 30 sec per side
This stretch helps to release tension in the TFL and the gluteus maximus.
- Start standing. Cross your right ankle in front of your left, bringing your pinky toes as close together possible. Keep a small bend in both knees.
- Hinge at the hips and fold forward with a flat back, reaching your hands towards the ground. Bend your knees as much as you need to in order to touch the floor.
- Walk your fingertips over to the right to feel a stretch through your left leg.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then walk your hands back to center and slowly stand back up.
- Switch sides.
Seated Forward Fold with Bent Knees | 60 sec
Bending your knees in this stretch helps to release tension in the lower back and the TFL.
- Start sitting on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bring a small bend into the knees.
- Inhale and reach your arms above your head. On your exhale, hinge at the hips and fold over your thighs with a long, straight back. Reach your hands to grab the bottoms of your feet, bending your knees more if you need to. Your belly should be touching your thighs. Gaze at your shins to keep a long neck and hold for 30-60 seconds. You should feel a stretch in the hamstrings, glutes, TFL, and lower back.
Butterfly Stretch | 60 sec
This stretch relieves tension in the hip flexors, TFL, and lower back.
- Begin seated on your mat.
- Bring the soles of your feet together, allowing the knees to fall out wide.
- Place your hands on your ankles and apply gentle pressure on your thighs with your elbows, feeling a stretch through the inner thighs and hips.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Child’s Pose | 60 sec
This traditional yoga pose helps to reverse an anterior pelvic tilt by placing the pelvis in the opposite position and releasing tension in the TFL, hip flexors, and the lower back.
- Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Bring your toes together to touch. Take your knees out wide towards the edges of your mat.
- Slowly sit your hips back onto your heels. Then walk your hands forward to lower your chest towards the ground, with your forehead resting on the mat.
- Lengthen your arms out in front of you to feel a stretch through the lats and shoulders.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds.
5 Exercises for Anterior Pelvic Tilt
These more active exercises will help strengthen glutes, hamstrings, abdominals, and obliques.
Bridge | 45 sec
This exercise strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and abs.
- Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent and your feet hip-width distance apart.
- Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms facing down.
- Keep your knees in line with your toes, and inhale to lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
- Press down through your feet and palms and squeeze your glutes and abs.
- Hold for 45 seconds, then slowly release.
Bicycles | 20 reps
This exercise helps to strengthen the abs and the obliques.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
- Place your hands behind your head. Keep your elbows wide as you lift your shoulders off the ground.
- Keep your knees bent as you lift your legs into the air, bringing your shins parallel to the ground.
- Take a deep inhale, then exhale as you twist your upper body to the right, tapping your left elbow towards your right knee. At the same time, straighten your left leg out long and keep the foot hovering above the ground.
- Inhale to come back to center, then exhale to twist left, straightening your right leg out long.
- Continue for 20 repetitions.
Plank | 45 sec
This exercise works the obliques, glutes and lower back muscles.
- To begin, lie face down on your mat.
- Prop yourself up onto your forearms and spread your fingers wide so that your hands are flat on the ground.
- Tuck your toes under and lift your knees up off the floor. Straighten out your legs and keep your hips in line with your shoulders.
- Pull your navel up and in towards your spine, firm up your quadriceps and squeeze your glutes. Press firmly against the ground with your forearms.
- Focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth as you hold for 45 seconds.
Kneeling Kickbacks | 15 reps per side
This exercise works the glutes and the hamstrings to help bring the pelvis back into neutral.
- Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Stack your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees.
- Engage your abs and lengthen your right leg straight back behind you, pointing your toes.
- Keep your right leg straight and exhale as you lift the right heel up towards the ceiling. Pause at the top and squeeze your glutes.
- Then, inhale to tap the right toes back to the ground.
- Repeat for 15 reps, then switch legs.
Single Leg Deadlifts | 12 reps
This exercise strengthens the glutes, hamstrings, and abdominals.
- Begin standing with your feet together. Engage your abs by drawing your navel up and in towards your spine.
- Shift your weight onto your right foot and point your left toes onto the ground right behind you. Place your left hand on your hip and slightly reach your right hand forward.
- Inhale as you lower your chest and lift your left leg up at the same time, bringing your chest and leg parallel to the ground.
- Reach your right hand toward your left knee, then exhale to come back up to start.
- Repeat for 12 reps, then switch legs.
(Your Next Workout: 7 Exercises That Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor)