What Causes a Tilted Pelvis?
The constriction or weakening of muscles that support the pelvis can pull its position in one direction or the other. (10) Abdominal muscles keep the spine and pelvis in alignment in the front by pulling the pelvis up; back muscles below the lumbar spine balance their action at the rear to pull it down.
The primary muscles that support the pelvis include:
- Lumbar erectors
- Quadriceps (rectus femoris in particular)
- Gluteus maximus
If the hip flexor group of muscles is over-used by remaining in one particular position (e.g., sitting for long periods), the muscles can lose flexibility, the rear muscles supporting the pelvis weaken, and an anterior pelvic tilt can ensue over time.
Other factors that contribute to pelvic tilt include:
- flat feet
- head and neck position
- nervous system activity in the pelvis and lower back that influence muscle behavior
Anterior Pelvic Tilt Test
So how do you know if you have a tilted pelvis? If you experience chronic lower back, leg, or neck pain, there’s a chance that it’s due to your posture. See the illustration below for the differences in postures.
If you stand and move just your buttocks backward, you’ll feel the muscles in the front of your pelvis and in the lower back pull. If you move the opposite way and press butt in and pelvis forward, you’ll feel the tension in your lower abdominals and butt.
Looking sideways in a long mirror, you can see if your upper abdomen and buttocks stick out—these are signs of an anterior pelvic tilt. Or take the quick test below.
- Does your stomach stick out or is it flat?
- Are your hips pushed forward and straight or are they sticking out behind you?
- Do you have any of these symptoms: Back pain hip pain, knee pain, or shoulder pain?
- Is your lower back more straight or arched?
If you’ve answered that your stomach is flat, your hips are straight, you don’t experience any of the symptoms listed and your lower back is straight, then your pelvis is in its natural position. However, if you’ve answered that your stomach sticks out, your hips sticks out behind you, your experience the symptoms and your back is arched, then you likely suffer from an anterior pelvic tilt. If your answers fall into both categories, it may be time to fix you posture to avoid problems in the long run!
How to Correct an Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Fortunately, the cause of pelvic misalignment is most often fixable by stretching and strengthening the right muscles to put everything back to where it’s supposed to be. Because it’s so common (especially among runners), health and athletic professionals have devised pelvic tilt exercises to help you target the involved muscles to get your posture straightened out.