APT: What is it and how can you fix it…because you probably have it
I have been a hip tucking fiend the last few weeks in a grand effort to finally cure myself of a pretty drastic anterior pelvic tilt (APT). When I first posted that I was going to resolve this issue once and for all, I got a number of requests to do a post on the subject. Unfortunately, as I have not yet mastered curing my own, I do not feel comfortable writing a post on the subject.
So I’m not. Erika is! She was kind enough to volunteer to write a piece on the subject and, let me just say, it is great! You guys are lucky, Erika did a far superior job than I could have. I was literally so excited about it, I could not wait until tomorrow to put it up.
No more of my blabbering, on to some hip-a-fixin’!
What‘s up! I’m Erika and I blog over at Sweat and Dirt. I’ve been a certified trainer for just under a year and I’m currently pursuing a degree in Exercise Science. I’m very excited to be doing this post for Joob because besides the fact that she’s a total stunner, her blog is definitely one of my favorites to read. She always keeps things fresh and motivating and displays the perfect mix of honesty and brilliant sarcasm
I jumped on the chance to do this post because I’m a total geek when it comes to preventative and corrective exercises and using them to improve clients‘ lifestyles and fitness and I believe there is definitely a lack of that (or just general apathy towards it) in the fitness industry. I’m not saying we should treat our clients like rehab patients and do things we aren’t qualified to do, but if a client is lacking certain mobility or flexibility that effects their routine and performance, it’s our job to step in!
Enough about that though, let’s get into this.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt is a very common postural issue where the pelvis is pulled downward towards the front. The best way to tell if you have APT is to look at the waistline of your pants. If it’s facing downward or your pants seem to be pulled up higher in the back than they are in the front, it’s very possible that you’re a victim of APT! Another common indicator is if your butt and stomach stick out, causing your lumbar spine (lower back) to be hyper extended, or bent too far backwards (which will also lead to lower back pain).
Our biggest culprit here are the hip flexors.
These bad boys have an incredible impact on our movement and can easily influence our quality of life. If the hip flexors are tight they will pull the pelvis downward, which in turn lengthens and stretches out the hamstrings…makes sense, right? Hip flexors, those tricky s.o.bs, can become tight from either lack of movement or from constant activity…total catch 22.
Someone who sits a lot will most likely have tight hip flexors (among other things..) because their muscles are in a constant shortened, flexed position, which over time will result in them staying shortened and therefore tight.
On the other hand, like any other muscle, constant activity and contraction of the muscle will also cause it to become tight. The hip flexors are no exception.
We can‘t place all the blame on the hip flexors though. Our lower bodies have a huge influence on our posture, and our upper bodies in general, so paired with tight hip flexors are tight quads and a tight lower back (erector spinae). On the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ve got the weakened muscles: the hamstrings, glutes and abs, which become weak, loose and…inactivated. These guys cause your tightened muscles to have to overcompensate.
To break it down so far:
Tight Muscles: (need to be stretched to fix APT)
Weaker Muscles: (need to be strengthened to fix APT)
So let’s break these suckers up and fix some pelvises (or is it pelvi?) …We’ll start with the weaker, less activated muscles, the glutes in particular. Two great exercises to activate the glutes are the glute bridge (these will work the hamstrings as well) and the quadruped hip extension, seen here:
A third one is the clam, which Joob demonstrated here:
If you are more advanced, you can also hit the glutes with weighted or one legged bridges, deadlifts, lunges and/or split squats.
The abs also need to be strengthened as well, but don‘t even think about doing a single crunch. Please. In this situation the spine needs to be kept in a neutral position. Best option: the plank and it’s many lovely variations. Once you get comfortable with a regular plank, try side planks, plank ups (walking up to a chest plank from an elbow plank), plank walks (walking side to side in a plank position), planks with opposite arm and leg lifts, decline planks and I could write another three listing about the rest. Another great move is the bird dog, which will hit your glutes as well, if done correctly. No matter which exercises you choose, squuueeeeeze your butt as you‘re doing them, imagine you’re trying to pinch a marble between your butt cheeks and always keep your abs tight.
Moving onto the tighter muscles, stretching is the most obvious solution. These muscles need to be returned to their normal, relaxed state. If you don’t already own one, I highly suggest you finish reading this and go get yourself a foam roller! It will become your best friend (most of the time) and highly improve your training.
Let’s address the hip flexors first. One of my favorite stretches is the lunge stretch, seen here:
While doing this you’re going to want to clasp your hands together and lift them up over your head to really open the hips up and push your pelvis forward.
Next is the squat to stand:
This is also an excellent move to be included as part of your warm-up.
For the lower back, the ‘cat to camel’ and the classic knees to chest stretches are your best bets.
Grab both of your legs from the back of your knees and simply pull them up to your chest and hold.
*Don’t force any of the stretches and don’t “bounce” into them. Hold a still, static stretch for about 15-30 seconds or until you feel the stretch ’loosen’.*
Use the foam roller on your quads, calves and IT band and make sure you do your static stretching after foam rolling in order to keep your muscles from returning to a tightened state. Don’t worry too much about your hamstrings, remember these are already stretched out from your pelvis being pulled downward. If you decide to foam roll your back, make sure your spine stays neutral and you’re not curving your back around the roller (this is counterproductive to fixing APT!) Then after this feel free to do some mobility work (such as the squat to stand, bridges, clams, fire hydrant circles, etc.)
If you don’t already, start all of your workouts with a dynamic warm-up (whether or not you have APT). Here is a great link for more info on that and include a day or two of mobility work/drills into your routine
I hope this was able to clear up some confusion about Anterior Pelvic Tilt and helped answer some of your questions! Remember, like most things, fixing APT takes time and consistency, so stick with it! Please don’t hesitate to ask me any more questions and thanks again Joob for letting me hijack your blog for a day Take care!
DON’T YA’LL FEEL SMARTER NOW?! This makes me wanna go do some hip thrusts.
Don’t forget to check out Erika’s Blog, Sweat and Dirt. It’s killer. You can also email her if you have any further questions or just want to spam her inbox.