3 Easy Exercises to get out of Anterior Pelvic Tilt, NOW.

anterior pelvic tilt Nov 20, 2023
anterior pelvic tilt

The anterior pelvic tilt aka “APT” aka America’s most wanted posture.

You’ve likely heard all the things - APT causes back and hip pain.  It’s why your hip flexors are so tight.  It’s why you get discomfort when you run.  

But how much of this is true? Is APT as bad as everyone says it is? And if it is, what do we about it?

Do we strengthen our glutes? Do we stretch our psoas?

Like most topics in the movement and pain world, the answers to these questions are not easy to find. 

Pain is complex. Movement doesn’t have to be, but with so much information out there, it too gets complicated. This is why there is so much confusion when it comes to something like an anterior pelvic tilt.

We fail to differentiate between the complex and the simple. The easy and the hard.  

And because of this, we lose sight of what we want to accomplish through exercise.

Do we want to “fix” our anterior pelvic tilt or do we want to get out of pain?

In this article, I’ll explain why answering this question is so important. And as promised, I'll share 3 exercises that will immediately help you stand with less of an anterior pelvic tilt. 

“Fixing” Anterior Pelvic Tilt vs. Reducing Pain

Most people discover what anterior pelvic tilt is only once they start looking for answers to their pain problem.

Depending on the source, anterior pelvic tilt is blamed for hip, back, shoulder, groin and many other pain patterns.

But there is not a lot of good evidence that shows a link between anterior pelvic tilt and pain.  

In fact, studies have shown the exact opposite.  Like this study. Or this one.  

There are plenty of people with anterior pelvic tilt who have NO pain. 

Posture, by itself, does not cause pain.

Instead, pain is a complex process that is heavily influenced by our brain. The brain decides whether pain signals should enter our awareness.

It makes this decision by constantly evaluating our internal and external environment.

The strength and resiliency of our body matters.  A strong and flexible body is less likely to hurt than a weak and stiff body.

But how we view our bodies might matter even more.

If we move well but we think we move poorly, this will impact our brain’s perception of our experience.

In other words, if we believe we have movement or postural “dysfunction” then this may potentially cause the brain to send pain signals into our awareness.

This is why believing that an anterior pelvic tilt is causing your pain can be a net negative.

Strategy for Chronic Pain

Recognizing that an anterior pelvic tilt is not solely responsible for your pain is a crucial step in reducing pain symptoms in the body.

Naturally, the next question would be, what is causing your pain then?

I can’t give you the answer to this through a blog post.  And honestly, nobody can.

Your pain experience is unique to you. Professionals can give you advice. Coaches can give you support. But ultimately, I believe we are all responsible for how our bodies feel day-to-day.

After learning about my own pain problems for years, I decided to create content and teach about this topic.

I also love movement and understanding how it affects pain has always fascinated me.

In my programs, I teach students to let go of the need to find out why they are in pain.

It just gets in the way of what will actually help them move and feel better – (1) building movement resilience in the WHOLE body and (2) becoming educated on how pain works.

Exercise Strategies for Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Even though it is unlikely that an anterior pelvic tilt alone causes pain, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do things to address it.

If our body is ‘stuck” in a certain posture, then this might make movement uncomfortable.

If movement is uncomfortable then our brain, to protect us, will send us signals of pain. Or discomfort. Or tension.

We want movement options and freedom.

For most of us, this would mean the ability to go from standing to sitting with comfort.  For others, it might mean running a marathon.

And of course, there is a lot in between.

Anterior pelvic tilt – the way it is often demonstrated – is a standing posture where the body leans forward, the pelvis dips forward and the ribs are flared. 

If you exhibit this posture when standing, the first thing I would ask you to do is to see if you can get out of it.

Can you get out of this position if you wanted to?

Can you posteriorly tuck the pelvis and bring the ribs in?

If you can, great! You’re not really “stuck” in this position.  This might be your body’s preferred resting position when standing but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If you physically can’t perform the above cues or it causes a great deal of discomfort, then there is some movement restriction here.

Identifying movement restriction is a good thing. You have some direction on what to work on.

The more restrictions in your movement that you remove, the better you’ll move and feel.

Below are a couple exercises I’d recommend you experiment with to start giving you more options and freedom in your movement.  

Our posture and movement habits are directly affected by how we breathe.  We breathe A LOT.  If our bodies breathe with an anterior pelvic tilt, we will stand in an anterior pelvic tilt.

Practicing breathing exercises where you encourage the stomach to expand and compress can improve your posture, movement and bring about many other physical and mental benefits.

Working on pelvic tilts from the ground makes it much easier to practice this skill.  When we stand or even kneel, the body is fighting gravity in some way. Other muscles, joints and tendons must work. This makes it more challenging to isolate and focus on the muscles around the pelvis.

Start at the ground. Once you get better on the ground, you can work toward being on all fours (cat/cow) and then standing.

Using the wall as a reference point is a great way to start learning what it feels like to have a neutral pelvis and spine. By placing the entire back on the wall, your pelvis and ribs will automatically go into a more neutral and optimal position. 

Final Tip

Many people ask me if they should consciously get their body out of an anterior pelvic tilt when they notice they are in it during daily life.

I don’t think this will hurt you in anyway, but I also don’t think it’s sustainable. Your body will ultimately forget and take the path of least resistance.

What I recommend instead is to always cue a better posture when you are working on your movement.

For example, if you’re doing a barbell curl, make sure that you tuck your pelvis, bring your ribs in, and are standing in a neutral posture.

When you load movements on a faulty foundation, you get even more faulty movement patterns.

On the other hand, when you load a posture that challenges you, that posture will eventually get stronger and become your default.