If you've ever been accused of having a "Sway Back" or "High Butt," there's a very good chance that you've actually got a condition known as Anterior Pelvic Tilt. What that means is that you've got a muscle imbalance that pulls the back part of your hips upwards, and the front part down.
But don't feel bad if this describes you. It's a very common condition, especially amongst people who work day jobs sitting in chairs and typing on computers all day long (chances are you're sitting in such a chair, hunched over a keyboard or laptop as you read this). The good news is that you can fix an anterior pelvic tilt; the bad news - if you choose to call it that - is that it will take time and dedication on your part.
What Is "Anterior Pelvic Tilt" Anyway?
It's the result of several muscle imbalances working together to wreck havoc on your posture and even your overall health. Let's take a quick look at what muscles are involved in this condition, then I'll explain the role they all play and how to correct anterior pelvic tilt by managing the individual muscles responsible for it.
Quadraceps (or Thighs) are the big muscles on the front of your legs. These are among the biggest and strongest muscles in your entire body.
Hamstrings are on the backs of your legs and are often very underdeveloped in even the most hard-core gym rats.
Gluteous Maximus (or Glutes) are effectively your butt cheeks. These, like your thighs, are among the biggest muscle groups in your entire body; and like your hamstrings, are very often underdeveloped.
Abdominals (or Abs) are the sheet of muscles in the front of your stomach. These are the ones that give that "six pack" look to celebrities and athletes.
Hip Flexors are actually tendons on the front, back, inside and outside of your hips and groin.
And finally, the Lower Back, which is made up of several muscle groups and is rarely thoroughly trained by even the most advanced exercisers.
Muscle Balance Is Everything
Your body is just like a "yin-yang," every muscle has an opposing muscle that performs the same range of motion, but from the other direction. For instance, your chest muscles push weight away from your body, but the opposing muscle group, the upper and middle back (or "Lats" or "Latisimus Dorsi" and the "Rhomboideus") pull the weight towards your body in the same plane of motion. Same with your biceps, which contract your arms; your triceps - which are located on the other side of your upper arm as your bicep - work to straighten your arms.
In a perfect scenario, each opposing muscle group is equally as strong as the one it opposes. For instance, you should be able to row the same amount of weight you can bench press. When one group is stronger than the other, it pulls itself into a contracted position, and the weaker muscle gets stretched into an extended position. The result is physiological imbalances and terrible problems that can lead to all sorts of bone, joint and muscular conditions.
In the case of APT ("Anterior Pelvic Tilt"), you've got several muscles out of balance. For starters, your big quads become stronger than your abs, which pulls the front of your pelvis down and puts a huge strain on your front hip flexors. And in the back, your hamstrings and glutes aren't strong enough to hold your pelvis down, so your tight lower back pulls it up, and in many cases your anterior hip flexors are left carrying the load of what your hamstrings and glutes are supposed to do, making them tight. Long story short, you've got an imbalance up front that pulls your hips down, and an imbalance in back that pulls it up.
So, How Do You Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
I'll address two ways: Corrective and Preventative. The later is to keep yourself out of common situations that cause APT in the first place - which is handy once you correct it.
NOTE: I've helped many people with this condition in real life and am considering creating a short Ebook/report complete with my entire program, if there's enough interest. Obviously it would provide all the exercises and stretches I use and recommend in an easy-to-follow routine (complete with illustrations or even videos). If this is something you'd be interested in, please let me know in the comment section.
Correcting Anterior Pelvlic Tilt
Basically, you want to strengthen the weak muscles and loosen up the tight/strong muscles that are causing the imbalance. As someone who has struggled with APT for quite some time, I can tell you that it's often best to stay away from any exercise that actually strengthens the tight muscles, because it will be counter-intuitive. Let's fix the imbalance and then you can get back to working them.
Remember the weak muscles from earlier? The glutes, hamstrings and abs? We want to strengthen those muscles. Here are just a few exercises to try; make sure you use correct form the whole way through and feel the "contraction" in the target muscle, not somewhere else.
Glutes: Lunges, Step Ups, Kick Backs, Walking/Running up a steep hill.
Hamstrings: Leg Curls, Straight Leg Deadlifts.
Abs: Crunches (all sorts of variations) and planks.
Likewise, we need to stretch out the overtightened muscles that are over developed. Static stretchiching works great, but I actually highly recommend a foam roller. They are super inexpensive (about 14 bucks at Amazon) and are invaluable for loosening tight muscles.
What you'll be doing is laying on the foam roller and using it as a "massager" to loosen things up a bit. Technically the process is called "Myofascial Release" but you don't have to worry about that, just think of it as a really good massage. As you roll your tight muscles over the roller, pause on any tender spots for a few seconds.
(Warning: If you've never done this before, it might be a bit intense. This can actually be pretty painful if your muscles are tight and you're not sure what to expect. Never push yourself to the point of severe pain, just work at it a little more each day until it's tolerable).
Be sure to "Roll" your quads and lower back, as those are generally the culprits of APT and need a chance to release. Of course rolling out your hip flexors is also a very good idea, because they are under tremendous tension in those people with an Anterior Pelvic Tilt.
Preventing Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Most instances of APT that I've seen are either the result of imbalanced resistance training and/or stretching; or spending too much time sitting down.
Desk chairs are horrible for our bodies, and for a number of reasons beyond wacky hips. But in the case of an Anterior Pelvic Tilt, what the desk chair does is automatically shortens your quadraceps, putting them in a "contracted" position while elongating the hamstrings and glutes, putting them in a "weak" position. Naturally your upper back races to compensate and before long you've got all sorts of problems.
So if you're a desk jockey and are able to get up and move around, do it as often as possible. If not, be sure to work out the muscles as I mentioned above either at home or at the gym.
The second "preventative" measure is to always balance your training. Many guys and gals love working their quads, but don't spend nearly as much time on their hamstrings or glutes. So before racking up all that weight on the leg press machine or squat bar, consider working in some opposing lifts, too; ones that will strengthen the "weak" muscles.
Hopefully this article has helped you in some way. Anterior Pelvic Tilt is a nasty little condition that wreck all sorts of havoc on your body if unchecked or "untreated," plus you'll feel better, stand up straighter and won't have the same pains once your correct APT.