Low back pain can be caused by not warming up properly, using bad form, or something as simple as spending too much time sitting when you're not in the gym.
Sitting for long periods can lead to excessive anterior pelvic tilt which puts more stress on the lower back. About 80% of Americans have a job that requires them to sit all day, and about 80% of Americans also report having had some sort of lower back pain. Coincidence?
If you're one of those people, here's a strategy to fix your anterior pelvic tilt and relieve some discomfort.
Wait, What's Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
It happens when the front of the pelvis rotates forward and the back of the pelvis lifts up. Causes include tight hip flexors, a weak core, and weak glutes.
When your hip flexors are tight and your core or glutes are weak, your body maintains its upright position by arching the lower back. This puts your spinal erectors in a chronically tightened and shortened position, placing excessive stress on your low back.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
How Do We Fix This?
Step 1: Stop sitting so much!
Although this step may sound trivial, sitting less is one of the best things you can do. If you have an office job, the first thing you should do is think of ways you can get out of your chair more often.
Sitting for long periods of time puts your hip flexors in a chronically shortened position. Setting a reminder to get up every 15 minutes will go a long way towards lengthening your hip flexors, restoring your posture, and ensuring that your ass doesn't stay permanently glued to your chair.
Step 2: Know what to strengthen and what to lengthen.
Remember, excessive anterior pelvic tilt happens when you have tight hip flexors, a weak core, and/or weak glutes. This means you need to stretch your hip flexors in addition to strengthening your core and glutes.
Here's a prehab routine you could do before or after your workout, as well as on your off days. Perform all exercises one full round through before coming back for your second set.
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch with Reach: 2x5 each side
- Posterior Pelvic Tilts: 2x10
- Dead Bug: 2x5 each side
- Side to Side Knee Drops: 2x5 each side
- Bird Dog: 2x5 each side
- Fire Hydrants: 2x10 each side
- Hip Circles: 2x10 each side
- Outside Leg Raise: 2x10 each side
- Sit and Twist: 2x20 seconds each side
- Posterior Pelvic Tilt with Foam Roller: 2x20 seconds
Let's break these down:
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch with Reach
Begin by extending your hips forward so you feel a slight pull in the hip flexor. Focus on rotating your pelvis backward so you don't excessively arch your back when you stretch.
As you move into hip extension, reach your hand up and across your body so you feel a stretch. Slightly bend to the side you're reaching towards. When moving back, engage your core and continue to focus on rotating your hips back so your hip flexor activates and pulls your hip back into flexion.
Posterior Pelvic Tilts
Begin by lying on your back with your knees bent. Focus on engaging your core by rotating your hips backward. Think of pulling your belly button towards your spine as you contract your abs. Try to flatten your lower back to the floor during each rep.
Begin by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your arms reaching towards the ceiling. Keeping your lower back flat on the ground, slowly reach your opposite arm and opposite leg towards the floor.
Side to Side Knee Drops
Begin lying flat on your back with your knees together/bent and your arms spread out towards your sides. Keeping both shoulders flat to the floor, slowly drop your knees to one side. Pause and brace your core for one second once you feel one of your shoulders begin to lift from the floor. Keeping your core braced, bring your knees back towards your center and repeat on the other side.
Begin in a tabletop position with your wrists stacked under your shoulders. Extend your opposite arm and opposite leg out in front of you as you balance on one knee and one palm. Try to shift your hips as little as possible during each rep by bracing your core.
Outside Leg Raise
Sit and Twist
Sit on the ground with your knees slightly bent and legs open. Lean forward as you press one knee away from your body. As you exhale, turn and look over the same shoulder as the knee you're pressing. Pull your abdomen inwards as you stretch.
Posterior Pelvic Tilt with Foam Roller
Placing a foam roller underneath the sacrum so that it tilts your hips backwards is a great way to relieve stress on the spinal erectors. Pull your knees towards your chest and contract your core to make this more of an active stretch.