4 Great Exercises for Correcting Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Anterior pelvic tilt is one of the most common postural dysfunctions. It is easily recognized when looking at a person in standing from the side by the characteristic increased curvature of the lower back.

What is Anterior Pelvic Tilt?

The pelvis is a bony structure that connects that base of the spine to the legs. It has the ability to rotate or tilt in space. An anterior pelvic tilt occurs when the pelvis rotates forward, placing the front of the pelvic bones well below the level of the back. This tilted position increases the natural curve of the lumbar spine.

Anterior Pelvic Tilt

To determine if you have an excessive anterior pelvic tilt, stand with your back flat against the wall and measure the space between your lower back and the wall. The natural curvature of your spine should allow a hand to slide into that space. Men generally have 4-7 degrees of anterior pelvic tilt, and women typically have between 7-10 degrees. If something much larger than your hand, like a paper towel roll, is able to fit back there then it’s likely you have a large anterior tilt.

Causes of Anterior Pelvic Tilt

This posture results when certain muscle groups shorten or become overactive and overpower the muscles responsible for rotating the pelvis in a posterior (backward) direction. One of the main contributing factors is prolonged sitting that over time can shorten the hip flexor muscles. When a person with tight hip flexors stands up, the shortened muscles will pull the front of the pelvis downward resulting in an exaggerated curvature of the spine.

Training errors, when certain muscle groups are emphasized more than others, can also result in an imbalance of the muscles around the pelvis. The body may also assume an anterior tilted posture to compensate for a problem away from the back such as overpronation of the feet or forward head posture.

Effects of Postural Dysfunction

While a clear link between anterior pelvic tilt and back pain has not yet been established, it is reasonable to think that the exaggerated curvature would negatively affect the health and function of the spine and surrounding areas. An anterior tilt will also cause misalignment of joints outside of the back like the ankles, knees, hips, and neck leading to extra strain and problems in those areas.

From an aesthetic point of view, an anterior tilt posture doesn’t look good, particularly in men, and can cause your midsection to appear bigger that it really is!

Exercises to Correct Anterior Pelvic Tilt

There are four primary anatomical components to an anterior tilt they need to be addressed in order to bring the pelvis back into normal alignment:

  • Tight (shortened) hip flexors
  • Weak (lengthened) abdominals
  • Tight (shortened) lower back muscles
  • Weak (lengthened) glutes and hamstrings
I’ve chosen four exercises for the anterior pelvic tilt correction routine, one for each of the areas listed above. These exercises are both effective at  stretching tight muscles or strengthening the weak ones, and easy to perform since they can all be done without equipment.
 

Exercise 1: Posterior Pelvic Tilting

This exercise is by far the most important and should be mastered first. This movement will also be used in the other three exercises. The posterior pelvic tilt motion is the exact opposite of the anterior tilt. I prefer to do this exercise in standing because that is when the dysfunction occurs. The ability to control the position of the pelvis in standing is on the most important factors for postural improvement.

  1. Stand with your back flat against the wall with your heels placed about 6 inches away
  2. Press your lower back against the wall while keeping your shoulders and hips against the wall and knees straight
  3. Hold the position for 10 seconds then relax and repeat 10 times

posterior pelvic tiltPosterior pelvic tilting requires activation of the abdominals and glutes (tighten your stomach and squeeze your butt). Take your time practicing this. You can place your hand, or have someone else put their hand, between your back and the wall to check and see if you’re effectively closing down the space between the wall and your lower back.

Once you’ve mastered the movement, remember what it feels like to posterior tilt. Try to keep yourself in a posterior tilted position for the other exercises.

Exercise 2: Hip Flexor Stretch

This exercise is designed to lengthen tight hip flexors. Attempt to maintain contraction of the abdominal and glute muscles while performing this stretch.

  1. Start in a half kneeling position with the left leg in front and the right leg behind
  2. Rock forward keeping your back straight until a stretch is felt in the front of the right hip
  3. Hold the stretch position for 1 minute and then switch legs and perform the stretch on the other side
  4. Repeat twice on each side

Hip Flexor Stretch

The advanced version of this stretch places the foot of the leg being stretched against a wall or couch. This may be beneficial for athletes who want to more aggressively target their hip flexors.

Hip Flexor Stretch Advanced

Exercise 3: Lower Abdominal Leg Lower

  1. Start lying on your back with both legs lifted straight in the air
  2. Attempt to lower both legs down to the floor while keeping the knees straight until the lower back begins to arch off the ground
  3. Only lower the legs as far as you can without the back lifting up
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat for 2 sets of 20 repetitions

Leg Lowering Start
Leg Lowering End

It’s really important to maintain pressure of the lower back on the floor by performing the posterior tilt described in the first exercise. Once the back lifts up the abdominals are no longer being worked and instead you will be strengthening the already overactive hip flexors. It may be helpful to keep one hand under your lower back to make sure you’re maintaining downward pressure. As your abdominal strength increases you will be able to lower your legs farther without the back arching.

Exercise 4: Bridge with Leg Kicks

  1. Begin lying on your back with both knees bent
  2. Lift your hips into the air as high as you can
  3. Once you are in this bridged position, kick one knee straight out and hold for 5 seconds
  4. Lower that leg down and kick and hold with the opposite leg
  5. After kicking with both legs return to the start position and repeat for 2 sets of 10

Bridge exercise to correct anterior pelvic tilt

Bridge Exercise For Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Bridge Kick

This exercise works your glutes and hamstrings. Make sure to not let your butt drop down as you are performing the kicks.

Final Thoughts

Posture correction takes time. You now know how to look for anterior pelvic tilt and what to do to correct it. Performing these exercises will help you develop the strength and flexibility necessary to bring your pelvis and spine into good static alignment. As you feel more confident in your ability to hold your back in a neutral position, work on maintaining that posture during other activities throughout the day. Don’t forget about the top half either. Consider working on forward head correction also, for improving alignment of the whole spine. 

If you have any questions or suggestions for other exercises feel free to leave them in the comment section below. 

Good luck!

Comments

  1. Elise says

    Hi James,

    I’ve been doing these exercises for a few weeks and I can see a difference. The problem I’m having is I get pains in my back when I run and I know it’s becaue I arch my back way too much. Any suggestions you have would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Elise-If you think your back pain is coming on because of your anterior tilt then the key for you would be to try to hold your back in a more neutral position when you run. Sometimes it can be an issue with not engaging your glutes or abs enough. You can try what I call the wall walk out. Stand with your back against a wall and flatten your back by doing a posterior pelvic tilt. Then try to hold your back in that position as you take a few steps out from the wall. This can give you an idea of how to hold yourself and what muscles to activate to keep a more neutral position with running. Practice that for a while and then try to hold that same position during your runs. It’s a big adjustment so take it slow.

  2. Josh says

    Thank you. This is what i was waiting for.. :) I am having Anterior Pelvic Tilt.. :(
    Performing these exercises everyday, how long will it take to get the normal posture? How many days?

  3. andrew says

    I have been doing crunches as part of a swimming program for the past 12 years and have over-strengthened my hip flexors. Is there anything more specific that you can recommend for my current state?

  4. says

    @Josh–Everybody responds differently but it typically takes somewhere around 8-12 weeks before you would see noticeable changes.

    @Andrew–Were you doing crunches with your feet off the ground? If your hip flexors are adaptively shortened then the stretches in the post should improve your flexibility. Like I said to Josh, it can take several months of being consistent with the exercises. In general you want to work on bracing your core and contracting your glutes during activities when you think you might be over using your hip flexors.

    Another exercise I like that combines glute strengthening and hip flexor stretching is called prone hip extension with knee bent. I don’t have a video of it on the site yet but you could probably google it.

  5. Bethany says

    Thanks for this! Started doing these last week. As well as anterior pelvic tilt, I also have hyperextended knees, do you know of any stretching or strengthening exercises to treat/prevent this?
    Thanks again :)

    • says

      Hi Bethany–Hyperextended knees often go along with anterior pelvic tilt. The way your weight is distributed when you stand with titled pelvis forces the knees to go back into hyperextension. Working on reducing the tilt should help some.

      Quadriceps muscle strength is usually a part of it so working on exercises like squats and step ups while keeping your knees from locking out can improve things. Body awareness is also usually a big part of it. So things like paying attention to how you stand, or practicing walking with a bend knee in front of a mirror can help.

      It’s a really good topic and hopefully sometime soon I can write a more complete article about it. Thanks for the question!

  6. Darla says

    One of my legs is shorter than the other and I have been having a more difficult in walking recently and have more pain – When I sit, my Right Knee is about 3 inches longer than the other. I have been putting an insert in my Left to help bring me up to the correct level…….it helped initially, but now is not . Any suggestions for exercises that would help me?

  7. Nick says

    Hello, im 16 years old and i think i have anterior pelvetic tilt, how long will it take to get the normal posture ?

    Thanks.

  8. Ross says

    Hi I hope you can advise – I appear to have the tilted posture you describe, but with a ‘twist': Following deadlift work, my glutes are super tight, rather than weak! I actually have long standing trigger points in the deep glute muscle and attachments at the hip / lower back. Ball work and roller work helps loosen the glute TP’s a little but is not a lasting fix, and exercises that work the glutes seem to make them worse. Are the exercises above, barring the final one that hits the glutes, appropriate? I appreciate your input!

  9. Katie says

    Wow, this is a really great article. So glad I finally realized that I have a tilted pelvis, as I think that may be the reason for the chronic lower back pain I’ve had since I was 18 (I’m 23 now).

    I was wondering–I cycle a lot (I don’t own a car and bicycling is my only form of transportation. I usually bike 50+ miles/week) and I’ve noticed that tends to hurt my back, especially if I’m using a heavy backpack. Do you have any suggestions for ways to minimize that pain?

    Thanks a lot! I’ll be doing these exercises!

  10. Asya says

    Thanks for the article. I have an anterior pelvic tilt. According to Mike Robertson (Complete Core Fitness) the muscles you should work on the most in order to correct this type of posture are external obliques (along with glute muscles). I’ve been focusing more on oblique strengthening exercises (as opposed to strengthening just the rectus abdominus) and I think it really helps with my hyperlordosis.

  11. Bill says

    I have lordosis. I combine therapy with cardio by doing a sort of skating in place exercise. I’ll emphasize rotating hips back, but periodically rotate them forward and some to side. I’ll also throw in some deep knee bends AMD knee lifts to keep my back loose. After doing this for 30-40 min, ill follow with slow easy stretches. The most helpful is the bicycling backward motion of the reverse rotation. I’ve tried the exercises listed here, they’re great but they’re also a chore. Combining cardio with therapy, balance and stretches during warmdown has helped me stay committed to working out each day.

  12. Ludwig Welinder says

    Hi! Great site! I have anterior pelvic tilt. I just have one question. You say we should try posterior tilt during other activities in the day by squeezing our butt and abs, but won’t that get us into the habit of always doing that, even when our pelvis is back to normal and getting tense in those areas?

    • James says

      Good question Ludwig. Initially it does require a bit of effort. The body is very efficient though, and after a while both the nervous system and soft tissue adapt to hold the new position without the need for us to continue to actively contract the muscles. Plus it takes some time also for new movement patterns to form working from a new posture, but eventually everything becomes automatic.

      • Meghan says

        I have been actively working to tighten my abs and glutes while walking, and I just realized the other day that its working! Ive noticed that I feel more balanced, and the curve is actually starting to change :)

  13. Meghan says

    Just came across your article and very happy I did. I have had back problems since I was about 15 (26 now), including curvature which caused my left shoulder and right hip to be higher than their counterparts; they still are, in fact. I was seeing a chiropractor for it, but he actually wound up fracturing two of my lumbar vertebrae and I stopped seeing him. Over the last 5 years, I have noticed a significant amount of pain, and remember thinking that I felt like my spine was curving too much; I didn’t know that it could actually happen. I have been trying to lose weight for two years now, and ab work is nearly impossible. Any time I try, I feel like I can’t properly engage my abdominal muscles and I always feel it in my mid/lower back. I will be doing these exercises once a day and hope that they will “undo” the tilt. Working on concrete floors with this makes my legs and feet hurt terribly, and I cannot lift weights properly. Thanks for the article!

  14. james says

    Hi dude, great stuff, just a quick question for you, I am twenty would I be able to completely reline my spine by doing these exercises? also my next question sounds a bit stupid haha, if my forward head is relied would if effect my jaw line, as in would I have a double chin. sounds daft but im 100 percent serious, please reply

  15. Steve Kull says

    Thank you! my doctor has given me a version of all these exercises with absolutely no results and countless, painful setbacks. Never once were they presented as a progression therapy. You cant do birddogs, bridges etc…with weak abs. you cant work hamstrings without developed glutes. You cant stretch hip flexors without first working on abs and glutes. Yours is the first site to recognize this and its allowed me to turn the corner toward restored health and a normal life. Thanks again,

    Steve

  16. says

    I must disagree… I have worked with thousands of yoga students, and none of these bodies would benefit from a tucked pelvis. We need MORE anterior tilt. The lumbar spine has most room when it is in it neutral curve. Tucked pelvis leads to compression and malfunction in the pelvic floor, collapse of the inner body, spine compression, and tightness and destabilization in hip the hip joints. Our culture is full of things that lead to a tucked pelvis, from bucket seats to bad shoes. Active tucking will result, eventually, in injury.

  17. delekhan says

    I’m gonna try this. I am 26 and I have apt. I never had any kind of pain or discomfort in my back. I sit waaay too much and I know it is the main source. I understand the strong glutes, strong hams, strong adductors and strong abs on the one side and the flexible fip flexors, flexible psoas and flexible rec. femoris on the other side are only TOOLS required, and that the main exercise is the exercise #1. I am certainly not going to repeat only 10 times, I’m gonna do it as often as I can. I am not a child any more, I need harder workout for results. I will do it for 3 months and then I will post results here to tell if there is any difference.

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