A straightforward approach toward augmenting the anterior pelvic tilt in experienced female athletes.
A common theme amongst intermediate female weightlifters and strength athletes, is the anterior pelvic tilt. Albeit aesthetically beneficial, it can be problematic in regards to athletic performance and overall spinal health. Position and alignment is key in order to allow adequate, balanced inter and intramuscular coordination. The immediate benefit is a neutral spine position, and decreased compressive forces of the lumbar vertebrae, a significant cause of discomfort and pain in any athlete. Another benefit to reduced compressive forces and overactive core musculature, is a greater overall force production through the primary movers of the hips….aka the glutes, which in turn….gives you the bigger butt you wanted in the first place. So ….why is my pelvis in rebellion? It’s the chicken or the egg theory, is it my weak glutes and hamstrings that lead to a dominant anterior chain( quads,hip flexors, psoas,) or is it my tight anterior chain that lead to my underactive posterior chain( glutes, hamstrings, erectors)? Rather than waste anytime deciding who to blame, blame both and fix both.
Take pictures and video, during gait assessment and squat mechanics, determine range of motion during hip flexion and hip extension, prone hamstring curl and lying knee extension. Then simply base degree of restriction during a battery of squats, deadlifts, leg lifts, glute bridges and abdominal movements. A simple visible gap between the hips and the floor during prone lying positions, and a pronounced visible gap between the lumbar and the floor during supine lying positions, makes an early case for dysfunction. Then perform a standing pelvic tilt to determine degree of flexion in the lower back so you have a baseline to build off of, after each corrective movement.
Standard Mobility and Strengthening
The obvious concern as stated before, is a limited anterior ROM, and an augmented posterior chain recruitment. Simplest starting point would be to promote increase of ROM in the front of the body via foam rolling and actively releasing the following muscle groups, (quadriceps, adductors, abductors, and psoas complex). Follow these releases by performing associated stretches that compliments each myofascial manipulation, ( stock image of foam rolling quadricep, ball release on psoas, foam roller on inner/outer thigh) ( stock image of equivalent stretch that compliments adjoining release). You may feel or experience more discomfort during certain areas than others, yet they are all valuable and contributing members of the dysfunction, spend ample time initially to insure mobility first. Then re-film the gait and squat mechanics, prone hamstring curl and abdominal movements to test efficacy. If improved, then follow up to strengthening, or repeat process once more to see additional changes. The flipside of the coin is to determine what areas of the posterior chain have been potentially weakened by the altered pelvic position. Primarily the most common muscle that requires the earliest attention is the gluteals, followed by the transverse abdominals. So a hefty combination of direct glute work and isometric abdominal exercises, can create a challenge to any level of athlete. Then always reassess the gait and squat mechanics to reiterate which muscle groups are engaged and which are not. This may be a bigger can of worms than expected, but also testing the hamstring flexibility in order to see how it affects the glute function. Then assess abdominal endurance to see if the stomach is allowing these habits based on sheer fatigue. No single answer is designed to answer the pelvic question, a laundry list of factors can predetermine these positional weak points. A general guideline is to mobilize the front, activate the backside, reinforce the brace of the abdominal wall, and build overall endurance on movements such as hip extension, hip flexion, and isometric ab work. So a standard protocol would appear as so;
- Gait assessment
- Squat mechanics
- Prone and supine visible assessment
- Active release and myofascial release on quadriceps, psoas, adductor/abductor
- Stretch anterior chain( hip flexor, upper quadriceps, psoas)
- Activate posterior chain( glutes, hamstrings,erectors)
- Test endurance on isometric contractions for glutes and abdominals
Then repeat process, measure ROM, and general postural assessment, take post video and pictures. Encourage mindfulness of position and hip mechanics. And report back with score sheets using pain relief, performance enhancement, flexibility, and strength gain as the metrics for success.