How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt: 6 Exercises and Stretches
If you are reading this article, then you likely are aware that you have - or at the very least suspect that you have - an anterior pelvic tilt. And if you have that suspicion, then it’s quite likely and completely reasonable that you want to know what you can do to fix it.
You are in luck, my friend! Because we are going to dive into what an anterior pelvic tilt is, common causes, and some symptoms I frequently see. And last but not least, I’m including some targeted anterior pelvic tilt stretches and strengthening exercises to help promote proper pelvic alignment and happy hip flexor muscles.
What is anterior pelvic tilt and what causes it?
When you have a neutral pelvis, it should fall within the range of 7-10 degrees of tilt. The neutral pelvic angle is what creates your lordotic curve, or the small curve of your lumbar spine. That curvature is healthy and we like to see it!
But if you have anything beyond 10 degrees of tilt, it becomes a diagnosable anterior pelvic tilt or rotated pelvis.
So an anterior pelvic tilt is a misalignment of your pelvis that specifically causes the front of your pelvis to rotate forward and the back of your pelvis to rise. When the angle becomes more dramatic or tilted, then your posture can begin to change - causing issues with stability, mobility, and even some loss of balance.
There are three types of pelvic tilt, but an anterior tilt may be the most common - at least among my clients. The reason that anterior pelvic tilt tends to be more common than posterior or lateral pelvic tilt is because of the very common cause: tight hip flexor muscles.
If you are familiar with the many issues tight hip flexors can cause, then you may not be surprised to learn that tight muscles may also be the culprit(s) behind your twisted pelvis. That’s because these muscles are responsible for hip flexion or the forward movement of your leg. Things like sitting for extended periods, muscle imbalances, and strenuous exercise can all contribute to tight hip flexors.
But there’s more to fixing this issue than simply doing some hip openers or gentle stretches. You need to understand how these muscles connect to and work with your pelvic bone.
Your hip flexors are made up of two muscles: the iliacus and psoas. The connection points of these muscles are on your lower back and the top of your femur. They overlap each other and work together, which is why they are often grouped together and called your iliopsoas muscles.
Because of the location of the iliopsoas muscles, when they are tight, they cause a chain reaction throughout the pelvic region. If they are allowed to remain tight, they will begin to pull the pelvis forward, shortening the distance between your pelvic bone and femur.
This can cause tightness, pain, a shortened stride, a limited range of motion, and a visible anterior pelvic tilt. As your pelvis shifts more, additional strain is put on the muscles all throughout your pelvic region, which can cause muscle tightness to become even more pronounced.
How do I know if I have an anterior pelvic tilt?
Identifying if you have a pelvic tilt can be difficult because not everyone will present obvious or visible symptoms. That being said, these are some of the most common twisted pelvis symptoms to be aware of:
- Hip pain
- Lower back pain
- Knee pain
- Irregular walking gait
- Pelvic floor tightness
- Incorrect posture
The only way to know for sure that you have a pelvic tilt is to see a licensed professional. They will do a physical exam, listen to your symptoms, and measure your pelvic angle before making a diagnosis. They will also show you how to fix anterior pelvic tilt with a customized treatment plan that may include a mix of physical therapy and chiropractic appointments.
In addition to that, you can also do some simple at-home exercises to alleviate pain and other symptoms and speed up your recovery time.
How to fix anterior pelvic tilt with 6 simple exercises
Although a twisted pelvis can cause a wide range of symptoms and issues, it is relatively easy to find a treatment that works for you. Correcting anterior pelvic tilt often involves a combination of physical therapy and at-home stretches, workouts, and muscle pressure release.
Many of the exercises and stretches used to fix anterior pelvic tilt are related to how to fix a rotated pelvis of any kind, they are then just switched to target different muscles. Working with a physical therapist will ensure you are incorporating the right movements, help you practice correct form, and give you a supportive environment to retrain some of your muscles.
An anterior pelvic tilt is often caused by muscle tightness or imbalance. So when you’re trying to fix an anterior pelvic tilt, most exercises will focus on releasing the muscles and building balanced strength.
Though some of these exercises may look familiar or seem easy, it’s important to remember your muscles are not operating at peak performance. So I suggest slowing down, decreasing the weight (or only using your body weight), reducing the number of repetitions you do, and being mindful about your breathing during your exercises.
Without further ado, here are my top six exercises for learning how to fix anterior pelvic tilt from the comfort of your own home.
1. Hip thrusts/bridges
Although there are many strength training exercises you can try when treating anterior pelvic tilt, hip thrusts (also known as hip bridges) are one of my favorites.
Hip bridges should be done just using your own body weight. It’s possible to do them either elevated with your back on a bench or lying down with your back flat against the floor. If you choose the latter, make sure you’re fully connecting your back to the floor with a neutral curve in it. This will allow you to get the full range of motion needed to reap the benefits of this movement.
Hip bridges engage your glutes to help strengthen the muscles on the back of your hips. This will encourage some posterior tilt to counteract the anterior tilt you are experiencing. Adding a hip resistance band is an option you have to help target the outer hips/glutes and make this exercise more challenging.
2. RKC planks
RKC planks are essentially forearm planks with your hands interlocked and your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart.
Pull your stomach in tight, make sure your shoulders are engaged, and squeeze your core, glutes, and quads in order to lift and hold your body up. Practice doing this for a few seconds at first and continue to work your time up.
These planks are more beneficial than other ab exercises because they are not meant to actively engage the hip flexors. Instead, they primarily engage the abdominal muscles and your glutes, which makes them a fantastic choice when learning how to fix anterior pelvic tilt.
3. Lying pelvic tilts
A pelvic tilt exercise can either be done laying down or standing. I particularly love this one because it trains your pelvis to be able to move into a posterior pelvic tilt position.
To perform a lying pelvic tilt you should:
- Lay down on your back with your knees bent up toward the ceiling and your feet planted on the floor. (If you have an anterior pelvic tilt, you’ll notice a large space between the floor and your low back because of the accentuated curve of your lumbar spine.)
- Flatten your lower back towards the ground. While you are pushing your back down, engage your glutes.
- Relax and return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times.
4. Standing pelvic tilts
You can achieve a similar exercise described above with standing pelvic tilts, but it will be more difficult because you no longer have the help of gravity to stabilize yourself!
While the movements will be the same as a lying pelvic tilt, it can help if you do this in front of a mirror so you can see if you are moving fully into a posterior tilt position.
- Stand sideways in front of a mirror.
- Relax and spread your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squeeze your glutes and lower abdominals as you move your pelvis into a posterior position.
If these movements are too difficult or you can only tilt your pelvis a little bit, not a problem. Make this your goal to work toward and note your progress over time.
5. Hip flexor stretches
Strength training exercises aren’t the only thing you can try when learning how to fix anterior pelvic tilt. Integrating hip flexor stretches into your treatment can also have some benefits.
Be mindful that it is possible to overstretch your hip flexors and if you do this it can cause them to tighten more severely, making your problems worse instead of better!
Some stretches to try when learning how to fix anterior pelvic tilt include:
- Standing quad stretch
- Low lunge stretch
- Standing hip flexor stretch
If you’re unfamiliar with hip flexor stretches or how to safely complete them, then it can be helpful to have a physical therapist guide you through the stretches, the form, and how long to hold each stretch.
And if you already are someone that regularly does yoga or stretches after exercise, then be especially mindful of how intense your hip flexor stretches are getting. Don’t hesitate to ask for guidance from your physical therapist.
6. Muscle pressure release
Although exercise and stretching are integral parts of how to fix anterior pelvic tilt, one of the most effective ways to treat tight hip flexors is a prolonged pressure release of the muscle.
You may experience a pressure release of your iliacus or psoas when you are at the physical therapist, and you’ll notice that it is difficult (in fact, nearly impossible!) to reach and release those muscles without assistance from another person.
Since you likely don’t go to the physical therapist daily, having a way to release your iliacus muscles at home is a necessary part of fixing anterior pelvic tilt.
The Hip Hook is the only tool available that allows you to perform a prolonged muscle release of your psoas AND iliacus muscles. It gives you the ability to gently and safely release your hip flexors from the comfort of your home. Used between physical therapy visits, it has proven extremely useful with many of my clients.
Using the Hip Hook has become one of the most effective ways I’ve learned how to fix anterior pelvic tilt caused by tight hip flexor muscles.
Achieving proper pelvic alignment
How long it takes to fix anterior pelvic tilt will depend on the severity of the pelvic tilt angle and the consistency of your treatment activities. But the good news is, it is almost always treatable with physical therapy exercises.
Some people may experience a great deal of pain due to their twisted pelvis, so it may take longer to heal due to a limited ability to perform certain exercises and stretches.
In severe cases, some pain-relieving medications and even injections may be prescribed to help jumpstart other aspects of the treatment. And, if a structural issue is causing your twisted pelvis, surgery may be required. That’s why it’s so important to consult a health professional to learn how to fix anterior pelvic tilt for your case.
Most of the time, simply applying the six exercises listed above on a consistent basis is enough to put you on the right track to a healthy, pain-free pelvis and proper alignment.
Frequently asked questions about anterior pelvic tilt
How do you tell the difference between anterior and posterior pelvic tilt?
When you are experiencing an anterior pelvic tilt, the front of your pelvis drops forward and the back rises. When you have a posterior pelvic tilt, it is the opposite. So, the front of the pelvis rises and the back of the pelvis drops.
That’s why when looking at someone with a dramatic anterior tilt they will have an accentuated curve in their lumbar spine. Whereas someone with a posterior pelvic tilt will have a flatter lumbar spine.
Can anterior pelvic tilt make your belly stick out?
When you have an anterior pelvic tilt, it can cause poor posture that comes in the form of slouching forward and your belly protruding further out than normal.
This happens because as your pelvis is pulled forward, the curve in your low back is more pronounced, your butt is pushed out more, and your belly may protrude forward - creating the illusion of a larger stomach. Fixing anterior pelvic tilt has the ability to change your appearance, but it will not necessarily cause you to lose weight.
Can anterior pelvic tilt cause digestive issues?
It is possible that anterior pelvic tilt can cause some digestive issues if there is enough pressure put on the abdominal muscles. The most common issue associated with pelvic tilt is constipation, although other gastrointestinal problems are possible.
By releasing the iliopsoas muscles and doing the exercises to fix anterior pelvic tilt, you may notice a difference in your digestive system. Always talk to your doctor about any new changes to make sure they are helping you move toward a happy, healthy body.