Q and A: Do Washboard Abs Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
Q: My bodyfat is about 9% (plainly visible abs, but a distended gut clouds this when in a t-shirt). I have been working furiously on my posterior chain to help fix my anterior pelvic tilt. I’ve got to think this is a common fitness enthusiast lament, and is something I want to devote myself completely to fixing. Any thoughts?
A: While this is something I’ve discussed in the past, to reiterate, correcting anterior pelvic tilt commonly requires strengthening of the weak anterior abdominal muscles and the hip extensors while simultaneously stretching the often tight low back and hip flexor muscles. As noted in the classic text by Kendall, et al:
Any one of the above may be a primary factor, but the tight low back and weak hip extensors are least likely to be the primary cause.
While this certainly isn’t set in stone, I feel this statement holds a lot of credence in the athletic population (as well for people who train for performance in general) since they tend to hammer their posterior chains in training. However, this isn’t to say that just because you squat, deadlift, and throw in some lunges here and there, that you’ve covered your bases.
We can’t neglect the fact that we sit….a lot. We sit at work. We sit in our cars. More often than not, we sit while we train. And, of course, we sit in front of the television every night as well. Needless to say, if you’ve got chronically tight hip flexors (and chances are you do), your hip extensors (glutes, hamstrings, etc) are going to be weak/inhibited due to reciprocal inhibition. It’s simple math really. A few sets of pull-throughs aren’t going to counteract the fact that you sit for 13 hours per day.
Moreover, just because you can see your six pack, doesn’t necessarily mean you have a strong abdominal wall. All it really means is that you’ve got a low body fat percentage. Well that, and girls are more likely to want to hang out with you. But that’s pretty much a given, and goes without saying.
Weakness of the anterior abdominal muscles allows the pelvis to tilt forward. These muscles are incapable of exerting the upward pull on the pelvis that is needed to help maintain a proper alignment. If you look at the force couples of the hips, a weak rectus abdominus (as well as external/internal obliques) can be just as much the culprit for APT as a weak(er) posterior chain, as seen in the picture below.
All that said, I’d suggest that you pay more attention to:
1. Stretching the Hip Flexors. Severity of lordosis from APT depends directly on the extent of hip flexor tightness. Of note, tightness of the rectus femoris and TFL does not necessarily cause lordosis in standing, since neither of these muscles are elongated over the knee joint when the knee is straight (although they certainly can be a factor).
Rather, tightness in these muscles would be most prevalent in the kneeling position. However, in a standing position, APT would be most indicative of a tight/shortened psoas; which makes sense given the amount of sitting we do. As such, one of my favorite stretches would be the warrior lunge stretch, performed throughout the day for upwards of 30-60 seconds per side:
2. More Dedicated Anterior “Core” Work. As mentioned above, just because you have a steel plate for abs, doesn’t mean they’re strong. As such, I’d recommend a healthy dose of pallof presses, various planks (here, here, and here), as well as chops and lifts- as demonstrated below by Mike Robertson:
While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of exercises that can be done, it will undoubtedly point you in the right direction. Good luck!
Comments for This Entry
reidel23Stretch your lats too! They are connected to your lower back and pelvis. They can create anterior pelvic tilt by themselves.
June 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm |
TonyGentilcoreAbsolutely! If I were to re-write this article today (this was an old one) I'd definitely mention the lats. Not everyone has their lats attach directly to the ilium, however, so it's important not to get too carried away. That being said, lat stiffness or shortness IS a big one to address.
June 4, 2014 at 8:56 am |