Anterior pelvic tilt is a condition in which the pelvis is pulled down in front due to tight hip flexors. It’s very common among people who sit in chairs all day. In a previous post I explained how tight hip flexors can lead to APT. There is another component of fixing APT beyond stretching the hip flexors, however.
When a muscle or muscles on one side of the body are tight and short, in this case the hip flexors, the muscles on the opposite side of the body, the glutes and hamstrings, are often lengthened, weak, or inhibited. When a muscle is weak and can’t perform its job correctly, other muscles have to pick up the slack and can end up stressed out and injured.
With anterior pelvic tilt, the glutes are usually the muscles that need to be strengthened. The glutes are lengthened and inhibited (meaning not functioning) because they spend most of their time in a stretched position. Think about what happens when you sit down- your hips flex and your glutes lengthen. Remaining in this position for the most of the day leads to the glutes being permanently lengthened. Lengthened muscles end up losing strength. Not only do they lose strength, your brain actually “forgets” how to recruit them.
Why are properly functioning glutes important? I think the glutes are the most undervalued muscle in the body. Everyone wants a great looking rump, but often forget that your glutes are a muscle and need to be trained like any other muscle. The glutes are the primary hip extensor and thus are capable of generating tremendous amounts of force. You want a great ass? You have to get it strong.
The problem is that most people can’t strengthen their glutes because they can’t even recruit their glutes! What’s the point of lunging and squatting in hopes of sculpting perfect glutes if your glutes aren’t even being involved in the exercise?
Before we start the squatting and lunging, we first need to “wake up” the glutes by performing activation exercises. Performing single and double leg glute raises is a good activation exercise. You simply lie down on your back with your knees bent and heels on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up and down. Really concentrate on squeezing your glutes. If you feel it more in your hamstrings or lower back, you have poor glute activation. You need to work on it more.
Once your glutes are firing again, you can begin strengthening them and begin to pull yourself out of anterior tilt. Strengthening the glutes while stretching the hip flexors will go a long way towards correcting your pelvic alignment, but there is one more piece of the puzzle- the abs. I’ll address them in a future post.