I have some slightly bad news gentle reader. Most of you are suffering from some postural dysfunction. (“OH NOOOO!!!”)
But worry not!!! I can help. (“big sigh of relief”)
It’s time to talk about what fancy folk call “anterior pelvic tilt.” Old Timey Fitness Super HeroVladimir Janda called it “lower crossed syndrome.” I call it “stuck in porn star.” Let’s break this down, shall we?
Most people have some tight, short muscles and some weak, short muscles. When the body isn’t balanced quite right, it leads to less than optimal posture and consequently less than optimal movement; which can lead to pain. Wah wah.
Anterior pelvic tilt/ lower crossed syndrome/ stuck in porn star means the hips are doing some funny stuff. The reason it’s called lower CROSSED is illustrated in this helpful graphic below:
See? It’s like a cross?
Might have been cooler to call it LOWER XXX HARDCORE!!!
To keep it simple, basically what happens is the abs and glutes are weak, and the low back and hip flexor muscles are tight. This means instead of the pelvis being mostly level, it tips forward because the tight muscles are yanking on the long muscles. It’s also probably obvious why sitting all day long can make the situation worse.
Now, for those who like bootilicious bottoms with junk in the trunk (Mark emphatically raises his hand!), this dysfunction can actually make the glutes appear rounder than they are. But while this may be alluring at the bar, long term, it’s not the best thing for the hips. Furthermore, I want my beloved readers to have authentically muscular and powerful glutes and not rely on sticking it out to look like they’ve got something on back there.
And why do I call it “stuck in porn star” you may ask? When dealing with regular folk, most people are surprisingly unresponsive to the term “anterior pelvic tilt.” But for some reason, even people with minimal body awareness know how to tilt their pelvis if I ask them to imitate a porn star.
Now our friend Kim does in fact have an ass (duh).
But my eagle eye tells me her hips are tight
and her lower back is arched beyond its normal curve.
So how do we avoid the scary label “dysfunctional” and restore some order to our pelvis? Well here’s where it gets a little tricky because everyone is different. Conventional wisdom is to stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the abs (specifically the obliques) and glutes. And while this is good general advice, the problem is this advice is, in fact… general. Everyone is different. And while almost all of my clients display some amount of APT/LCS/SIPS, everyone responds differently to different protocols. However, I think it’s fair to say most of you reading this would do well to stretch your hip flexors frequently, make sure you’re both “activating” your glutes by isolating them with exercises like glute bridges, and then employ them in your “big rock” lower body exercises like deadlifts, squats, lunges, etc.
And let’s also be totally honest and admit the body is a tricky, tricky thing. Some people have MAJOR APT/LCS/SIPS and never have any pain. So just because you’ve got some dysfunction going on doesn’t mean you’re en route to back surgery. However as a general rule, a neutral spine and pelvis are happier than a spine and pelvis that live in a distorted alignment.
Should you want some help in figuring out how to address this, you know how to reach me!
(And because I know you’re burning with curiosity, yes, there IS an upper crossed syndrome that deals with the muscles of the chest and upper back and shoulder girdle. And yes, lucky you, in next week’s sequel article, we’ll chat aaaaaall about it!)