The anterior tilt of the pelvis is one of the most misunderstood segmental behaviours across our entire anatomy. It has been bullied into thinking that it’s bad and individuals have constantly been urged to steer clear of it during everyday movements, and to particularly avoid it during the rehab process. However, it is absolutely crucial in order to express variability in muscle and joint behaviour around the lumbar spine & hip.
An anterior tilt is a forward rotation of the pelvic segment, but in order to appreciate its importance, we need to consider this behaviour within the context of its neighbouring segments, the lumbar spine and femur. Additionally, we need to consider its behaviour during specific tasks.
Anterior tilt & lumbar extension
In standing, with your femurs (hips) extended, if you were to rotate your pelvis forward while keeping your head in the same position in space, this forward rotation will facilitate an extension of the lumbar spine.
This is necessary to facilitate lumbar extension, but for some reason, this is the anterior tilt that most people fear. But there’s a big difference between having the capacity to do this, and not being able to move into the opposing direction, a posterior rotation. We can’t characterise one direction as bad and the other as good, we simply need to appreciate the capacity of the pelvis to experience motion into both ranges.
In standing, if you were to extend your spine and shift your pelvis forward to express a multisegmental extension strategy, you will not be able to extend the spine without allowing the pelvis to rotate forward (see image).
Anterior tilt & hinging
If you were to rotate your pelvis forward with a more extended spine as a single unit, you will expressing a hinging motion at the pelvis, and rotating the pelvis about the femur through a greater range of motion, facilitating a greater lengthening of thegluteal muscles and the proximal hamstrings. You cannot hinge without an anterior pelvic tilt (see image).
Anterior tilt & the toe touch
If you were to flex your spine in an effort to touch your toes, you need to eventually rotate your pelvis forward with
a flexed lumbar spine in order to reach the ground. The pelvis is still rotating forward like the previous hinging example, but this timeit’s rotating forward along with a flexed spine instead of an extended spine. If you can’t rotate your
pelvis forward towards the end-range of toe touch, then I can assure you that you are not going to be able to touch your toes (see image).
The anterior pelvic tilt is not “dysfunctional”
As you can see, an anterior tilt / forward rotation of the pelvis comes in many different flavours. In order to appreciate its importance, we NEED to consider its movement within the context of the lumbar spine and femur.
If you are simply characterising an anterior pelvic tilt as “bad” or “dysfunctional” without considering it’s behaviour within the context of its neighbouring segments and during specific tasks, then you are hugely misrepresenting one of the most important segmental behaviours around the lumbar spine and hip region.
If you want to learn more about how we can understand the movement potential of the body in this way, and use it to create well-rounded rehabilitation plans for individuals experiencing pain and /or movement limitations, then be sure to check out our Online Level 1 & Level 2 courses that go on sale TOMORROW! Don’t miss out!