Anterior Pelvic Tilt and the Abs

In my series of posts about dealing with anterior pelvic tilt, I’ve mentioned the role of the hip flexors and the glutes. The hip flexors are generally shortened and tight while the glutes are generally lengthened and inhibited (not working). The abdominal and extensor muscles of the lower back also play an important role.

The man on the left has a neutral pelvis. The man on the right has anterior pelvic tilt

The man on the left has a neutral pelvis. The muscles surrounding his pelvis in the front and back are assumed to be of normal length. The guy on the right is in anterior pelvic tilt. His hip flexors are pulling his pelvis down in the front of his body. Now think of the abdominal muscles. They run from the ribs all the way down to the pubic crest, which is part of the pelvis. If the front of the pelvis is pulled down, this will force the abdominal muscles, primarily the “six pack” rectus abdominis, to lengthen. Constantly lengthened muscles loose strength. As such, one of the consequences (or causes) of APT is weak abs.

The antagonist of the abs are the erector spinae muscles, more commonly thought of as the lower back muscles. Antagonist muscles do the opposite movement of each other. For example, the quadriceps extend the knee (bring the lower leg forward). The hamstrings flex the knee (brings the lower leg backwards). The rectus abdominis flexes the spine forward while the erector spinae extend the spine back up. Thus, they are antagonists.

Recall that if muscles on one side of the body are lengthened, the muscles on the other side (their antagonists) will shorten to accommodate the lengthened state. In this case the lower back muscles may end up shortened and tight in response to the lengthened abdominals, further reinforcing APT by pulling up on the back side of the pelvis. So now you have the hip flexors pulling down in front and the erector spinae pulling up from behind, leaving both the abs and glutes weak.

To address this issue we need to strengthen the abs through reverse crunches and planks. I stay away from performing any direct low back stretching. The reason is way too complicated for this post. Instead, I rely on strengthening the abs and glutes while stretching the hip flexors to fix the problem.

In summation:

-to fix APT we need to lengthen the muscles that are pulling the pelvis down in front. This means we need to stretch the hip flexors.

– We need to strengthen the glutes which are generally lengthened and inhibited due to the anterior pelvic tilt.

– We need to strengthen the abdominals and external obliques which are also usually lengthened and weak due to the tilt

– Leave the lower back alone. It may be tight, but doing the first three should help the lower back return to normal.

In my next post on the subject, I’ll give you an idea how you could program APT correction into your programming.

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