It takes more than just exercises to fix postural issues like pelvic tilt. But there’s a few simple tricks you can use to become more aware and reduce pain.
Here at Precision Movement I’ve shared resources to combat these postures and while they’re an important piece of the puzzle, there’s something they’re missing – developing the kinesthetic awareness to help you understand where your body is at and how to fix it outside of an exercise routine.
Research has suggested that bringing people’s attention to their posture can help reduce pain over time . It makes sense – how can you fix a position if your body doesn’t even know when it’s happening?
Fix Anterior, Posterior or Lateral Pelvic Tilt
Before we start building that physical awareness, let’s build some mental knowledge of what’s going on in these pelvic tilt positions.
Anatomy of Pelvic Tilt
Although these postures are focused on the pelvis, their effects on the body are wide ranging. Let’s take anterior pelvic tilt, for example.
In this position, your pelvis is tipped forward, causing your butt to stick out behind you. Lumbar spine hyperextension is commonly associated with anterior pelvic tilt.
In posterior pelvic tilt, your pelvis tips backwards, and your butt tucks under as if you had a tail and you were tucking it between your legs. The lumbar spine commonly responds with slight flexion and can look like it’s flat.
People with this posture often develop a flexion dysfunction of the low back because the lumbar spine’s “neutral” is in slight flexion, putting constant stress on the posterior spinal connective tissues like the ligaments and discs.
In lateral pelvic tilt, one side of the pelvis is hiked up higher than the other. This too can cause a variety of issues, even a functional difference in the length of your legs!
Understand the End Range
To start building your kinesthetic awareness of your pelvis and lumbar spine, first take your body into the extreme end ranges.
Go as far into an anteriorly tilted position as you can. Keep your knees straight, stand up tall, and exaggerate the position as much as you can – fire your muscles and stick your butt out back there like you were trying to get likes on Instagram.
Now, go to the other extreme. Contract your glutes, pull in your abs and tuck your tailbone far underneath you for as much of a posterior pelvic tilt as you can get.
Move back and forth between these positions a few times, focusing on what’s going on in your body in each pose. Think about what muscles are firing and how your joints feel.
As you practice, your proprioceptive or kinesthetic awareness of these positions will start to grow, and your body will start to recognize when you’re headed into these positions BEFORE you get to the extremes.
Find the Middle Ground
After taking a few rounds in the end range, practice finding neutral. Relax into it, shift your weight around, and remember to breathe.
Continue to stand up straight, but allow the muscles surrounding your pelvis to release all that tension you were just feeling.
The trick is that standing with a neutral pelvic position shouldn’t take much effort at all. So really try to relax and not hold any tension to hold any specific posture.
Once you feel like you’ve found a good middle position, start to move a little into SLIGHT anterior and posterior pelvic tilt. Don’t go back to the extremes, just let your body feel with what it’s like to approach these positions, then return to neutral.
You can use these same principles if you have a lateral pelvic tilt – just practice with shifting from side to side instead.
Carry the Awareness Forward
Now that you’ve started to build control over these movements, it’s time to start practicing control over your posture throughout the day.
It’s impossible to be constantly 100% aware of what your body is doing at all times. But take a couple days to focus on it and you’ll create a habitual awareness.
For example, do so when you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, brushing your teeth, or washing dishes – stop and notice how you’re standing then bring yourself to neutral.
Don’t forget sitting postures as well. When you’re stuck in rush hour traffic or sitting at your desk for hours on the computer – bring your attention periodically to your pelvis and lumbar spine.
When you notice your posture, you can do a couple rounds of going to the extreme end ranges again to help yourself find the center.
Pretty quickly, this will become habitual. You’ll start to unconsciously notice when your position is off and then you can adjust back to neutral. Add development of your kinesthetic awareness to exercises specifically targeting the muscles needing to be worked and you’ve got a recipe for a healthy lumbar spine.