The Pelvis

The last couple of years of rehab blitz can be narrowed down into a single thought : the pelvis is important.  (Couple that with the pelvic-diaphram breathing connection and you’ve got the last five years at least).

Simply put, the vast majority of the population is stuck in something called anterior pelvic tilt.  

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See that first one there on the left?  That’s it.  It’s mainly characterized by the large low back swoop.  Sitting for most of our lives develops tight hip flexors, and those thick, strong ropes pull down and rotate the pelvis forward.  Ending result is typically low back and hamstring pain.  Low back pain because your body is out of position to use your stomach, and hamstring pain because they are forced to stay in a stretched position.  Also, you can’t use your butt if your hip flexors are turned on, so ALL drive must come from those already tight hamstrings.

The thin, black line running vertically through each picture signifies the body’s center of gravity in that position.  The ideal, neutral hip posture on the right has the body’s center of gravity (where all the weight ‘sits’ or pulls down) in line with the joints.  Your body loves this.  The neutral pelvis allows the weight bearing portions of the body to bear weight, and the moveable portions of your body to move without constraints.

Athletes typically have the worse cases of anterior pelvic tilt because they are so often moving and training in this position.  They worsen the dysfunction by loading the movement pattern with speed and resistance.  (Think sprinting and squatting with everything out of alignment).

The result is very strong hip flexors that want to do everything, and a butt and posterior chain that just goes along for the ride.

So how to fix this?

First you have to get yourself in the most advantageous position against gravity: lying on your back (legs bent and feet on the floor).

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USING YOUR DEEP STOMACH MUSCLES (and NOT your upper body or lifting your butt off the ground) squish your lower back into the ground by driving your pelvic bones back and rotating your tailbone forward and to the ceiling.

Note the head should be resting on the ground.

When a human does this it looks something like this:

Anterior tilt with stick emphasizing “hole”.  Check out that upward rib flare.


Anterior tilt with no stick.                                          “Hole squished” by posteriorly tilting pelvis.
Look for the shadow.                                                   Ribs also flatten out in neutral alignment.

Again, it is imperative that the right muscles are doing the movement.  You should not drive your pelvis into this position with your shoulders, upper back, or butt.  Your deep, lower stomach muscles should be able to pull and hold the pelvis in the right place.

(posterior movement should look like this)
If you’re so stuck you can’t seem to squish the hole with your feet on the ground, you can try it with your feet up against the wall or on top of a chair to encourage that lower back rounding.
Chin should be tucked, right arm overhead, and legs should be at a 90 degree angle, knees directly above hips, ankles directly out from knees.  Foot width should mimic hip width.
Once you can get it there, breath through your belly.  This means get fat and let your stomach blow up like a balloon.  If you breathe with your chest, shoulders, and neck, those muscles will lessen their ability to move.  And they are meant to move.  Your body will always choose breathing over moving, so being able to accomplish neutral pelvis belly breaths will often be enough to loosen up that tight torso or upper body.
Place a hand on your chest and one on your belly.  The belly one should move with deep, slow breaths.  The chest one should not.
If you are still an avid weight lifter and/or athlete, I recommend holding these positions for 10 belly breaths before your lift or sport, to remind the body that it can get there and that it’s where it should be.  That being said, the harder this is for you, the more time you should devote to it.  

  • Squish the hole
  • Breathe through your belly

The first step is awareness.  The second is to be able to do this in different positions.

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