Posterior Pelvic Tilt

Definition

A woman exercising on a ball has her pelvis in posterior tilt.
A woman exercising on a ball has her pelvis in posterior tilt.. Curt Pickens / E+ / Getty Images

Posterior Pelvic Tilt Definition:

Posterior pelvic tilt is a backward and upward rotation of the pelvic bone.

The position of your pelvis matters a great deal when it comes to spinal alignment and low back health.  Ideally, your pelvis will drop directly down to align vertically with your rib cage.  Called neutral pelvic alignment, this position is instrumental for keeping the stress out of your spine.

The pelvis, ribs and head can be understood as structural units - or building blocks - of good spinal alignment.  Stacking them neatly (metaphorically speaking only, i.e., the structural units do not actually sit right on top of the unit directly below) is often the first step in attaining strain-free upright posture, as well as addressing common problems such as flat low back, swayback and more.

But what happens when the pelvis does not line up well with the other building blocks?  While a number of less than perfect pelvic positions exist that may negatively affect your posture and pain levels, two of the most common misalignments are the posterior pelvic tilt and the anterior pelvic tilt. 

Related: What is Ideal Alignment?

Posterior Pelvic Tilt – A Matter of Mechanics

Both the anterior and the posterior pelvic tilt tend to be a result of a combination of biomechanics and habits.  When you talk about biomechanics of a posterior pelvic tilt, to a great extent, it will likely revolve around two things: First, where the hip bones are relative to the plumb line.

(The plumb line is an imaginary vertical line that goes through the center of your body, around which all other parts should be balanced relative to each other if good alignment is your goal.)  The second aspect of posterior pelvic tilt biomechanics is about how tight your hamstrings are.

And if you’re wondering, the word biomechanics refers to how living beings are structured and how they move mechanically.

(For this, think Isaac Newton and similar scientists.)

In a posterior tilt, the hip bones tend toward being behind the imaginary vertical plumb line.  Because the hip bones are part of the whole pelvis, (the top part) as they are pulled backward, the bottom part is pulled forward.  And because the spine is wedged in between the two hip bones (in back) as all of this occurs, it tends to flatten the natural lumbar arch most of us have.  This arch is necessary for our ability to balance and to move, so when we stay to long in the posterior tilt, we may be setting ourselves up for injuries (such as herniated disc), or for muscle imbalances that cause. Pain.

Posterior Pelvis Tilt – Your Daily Habits

A posterior pelvic tilt is something we (generally speaking) can move into and out of, as is an anterior pelvic tilt.  Based on a number of factors, including but not limited to injuries, conditions, emotional states and more, a assuming posterior tilt position with your pelvic can become a habit.

If you stay like this over time, you may find that moving into an anterior tilt (which is in the opposite direction) or even moving from your posterior tilt to neutral is tougher than you think.

This may be because the muscles that contract to keep you in posterior tilt are very tight, while the opposing muscles can’t produce much movement because they are weak and/or overstretched.  The best way to avoid this is to exercise your core and pelvis regularly to make your muscle capable of meeting the challenge of moving your pelvis into all directions that by design it can go.  Another thing to do is to stretch your hamstrings.  Here are 7 hamstring stretches for you to try.  

Related:  Hamstrings, Pelvic Position and Your Low Back Pain

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