How to Tell if You Have an Anterior Pelvic Tilt, and 9 Exercises to Fix It

Fit young woman doing glute bridge exercise at home
Anterior pelvic tilt can lead to pain and make your workouts less effective.
Image Credit: bojanstory/E+/GettyImages

Your pelvis plays a crucial role in how your entire body moves. After all, it is the main connector of your trunk and legs. So when your pelvic position is altered, it changes the load on major lower body muscles — which ultimately throws off your movement patterns and can lead to pain over time. Anterior pelvic tilt is one type of altered pelvic position that can wreak havoc on your body.

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Anterior pelvic tilt occurs when the front part of your pelvis is rotated downward. Getting stuck in this position can lead to pain and movement problems, but thankfully, there are anterior pelvic tilt exercises that can correct this postural problem and resolve related aches and pains.

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What Is Anterior Pelvic Tilt?

To understand anterior pelvic tilt, it's helpful to imagine your pelvis is a bowl filled with water. When your pelvis is in a neutral position, the bowl is sitting upright and the water is level. An anterior pelvic tilt tips the front part of the bowl forward, which sends the water spilling out in front of you. A posterior pelvic tilt, on the other hand, tips the bowl backward and spills the water out behind you.

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Nobody's pelvis is in a neutral position all the time — it's normal for your pelvis to move around as you do different activities. However, when anterior pelvic tilt becomes your default posture, you may experience a host of challenges including pain in the low back, hips, knees and even shoulders.

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Check out this video to see an example of how our pelvis moves from neutral, to anterior tilt, back to neutral and then to posterior tilt.

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What Muscles Cause Anterior Pelvic Tilt?

Tight Anterior Pelvic Tilt Muscles

Weak Anterior Pelvic Tilt Muscles

Hip flexors

Abdominals

Quads

Glutes

Lower back

Hamstrings

Several factors can throw off these muscles, ultimately leading to anterior pelvic tilt:

  • Excessive sitting.Too much sitting can lead to tight hip flexors as well as weak glutes and core muscles. These may all contribute to anterior pelvic tilt.
  • Frequently wearing high-heeled shoes.​ Shoes with an elevated heel cause your pelvis to rotate forward, tightening your hip flexors and weakening your glutes and core. Wearing high heels on a regular basis can lead to anterior pelvic tilt.
  • Imbalanced approach to exercise.​ You can make imbalances worse by overtraining certain muscles and neglecting others. For example, if you frequently train your quads and avoid hitting the backside of your legs, aka your hamstrings, you may develop a muscle imbalance that leads to anterior pelvic tilt.
  • Genetics.​ Your bone structure may affect the natural position of your pelvis, the length of certain muscles and other factors that impact anterior pelvic tilt.

The Thomas Test for Anterior Pelvic Tilt

You can use a simple test known as the Thomas Test to determine if you have an incorrectly aligned pelvis.

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Skill Level All Levels
  1. Lie on your back on a table or bench. Your entire upper body as well as your hips and thighs should be on the table. Make sure there is no excessive arch in your lower back. Your knees should be bent and your calves and feet should hang off the edge of the table.
  2. Gently grab under one thigh with your hands and pull your knee toward your chest. If your opposite thigh remains flat on the table, congrats — you likely don't have anterior pelvic tilt. However, if your opposite thigh pops up off the table, it's a sign that your hip flexors are tight and you might have anterior pelvic tilt.

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Fixing anterior pelvic tilt requires you to stretch tight muscles and strengthen muscles that are weak. Specifically, you'll want to stretch the muscles on the front of your legs, including your hip flexors and quads. Gradually relaxing these muscles will improve the position of your pelvis and provide some relief for your tight hamstrings.

It's also essential to strengthen the muscles that combat anterior pelvic tilt — primarily your glutes, hamstrings and core. All the stretching in the world won't do you much good if you aren't strong enough to maintain proper posture.

It's important to note that stretching your hamstrings is not an anterior pelvic tilt fix. People with anterior pelvic tilt often complain of tight hamstrings and think they should be stretched. In fact, stretching the hamstrings is actually counterproductive. Your hamstrings feel tight because they are already overly lengthened due to the forward rotation of your pelvis.

How Long Does It Take to Fix an Anterior Pelvic Tilt?

Addressing muscle imbalances and getting stronger takes time. It's important to practice patience when trying to correct anterior pelvic tilt.

Nobody can say for certain how long it will take to fix anterior pelvic tilt so it's important to stay consistent with the things you can control:

  • Regularly perform stretching and strengthening exercises such as those described below
  • Try to sit less, if possible, or break up long periods of sitting with walks or other physical activity
  • Spend less time wearing high-heeled shoes

Over time, a combination of these efforts should help address your anterior pelvic tilt.

9 Exercises for Anterior Pelvic Tilt

1. 90/90 Breathing

Breathing is a powerful tool to reset your posture and relax tight muscles. The 90/90 position tilts your pelvis posteriorly and reduces tension in your lower back, both of which can help with anterior pelvic tilt.

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Skill Level All Levels
  1. Lie on your back with your feet elevated on a box or bench. You can also place your feet flat on a wall. Position yourself so that your knees and your hips form 90-degree angles. Your lower back should be flat on the ground.
  2. Place your hands on the bottom of your ribs. You should be able to feel your ribs expanding as you inhale and lowering as you exhale.
  3. Gently drive your heels into the box and elevate your hips slightly off the floor. You should feel your hamstrings, glutes and core engaged as you breathe.
  4. Inhale through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on breathing deep and full into your torso. Maintain engagement in your hamstrings throughout.

2. Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

Tight hip flexors and anterior pelvic tilt go hand in hand. The half-kneeling hip flexor stretch helps open up your hips so you can restore proper posture.

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Type Flexibility
Region Lower Body
  1. Begin in a half-kneeling position. One knee should be down on the floor and the opposite leg should be out in front of you so your front knee forms a 90-degree angle. Your back toes should be flexed into the floor.
  2. Reach your hips back behind you, then squeeze your butt and gently push your hip forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the leg that's on the floor.
  3. Do not arch your back or hyperextend your hips as you stretch. Your torso should be tall and spine neutral in the top stretch position.
  4. Hold the stretch position as you take 3 to 6 deep breaths. Then relax, reach your hip back and repeat.

3. Standing Quad and Hip Flexor Stretch

The standing quad stretch is a great complement to the half-kneeling hip flexor stretch; it also targets tight muscles in the front of your legs that affect your pelvic position. It's also an ideal stretching option for anyone who is not able to comfortably get into a half-kneeling position.

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Type Flexibility
Region Lower Body
  1. Stand tall and place one hand on a wall or another stable surface to help with balance.
  2. Use the opposite hand to grab your ankle behind your body. If you can’t reach your ankle with your hand, use a resistance band. Loop the band around your foot, toss the band over your shoulder and pull down on the band with your hand in front of your body.
  3. Gently pull your foot up and back toward your butt until you feel a stretch in the front of your leg.
  4. Do not lean forward or arch your back as you stretch. Try to stay as tall as possible through your torso.
  5. Hold the stretch position for 3 to 5 deep breaths before switching sides.

4. Cat Cow

The cat cow exercise improves mobility in your spine. If you have anterior pelvic tilt, be sure to emphasize the rounding portion of the cat cow to loosen up your tight lower back.

Type Flexibility
Body Part Back
  1. Get into a quadruped position with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Initiate the movement by rounding your spine. Imagine that someone is pulling the middle of your back up toward the ceiling with a string. Look down and think about reaching your hands through the ground. Imagine that you are trying to form an upside down “U” with your body.
  3. Next, slowly move into the arched position. Look up and try to pull your stomach toward the floor. This time, imagine that you are trying to form a “U” with your body.
  4. Move back and forth between a rounded and arched spine, trying to get as much range of motion in each position as possible.

5. Dead Bug

If you want a stronger core to combat anterior pelvic tilt, ditch the sit-ups and crunches. Instead, pick exercises that teach you to use your core to resist movement in your spine.

Dead bugs are one of the best exercises to build this kind of core strength. They're especially helpful for folks with anterior pelvic tilt because they provide lots of external physical cues. You'll immediately know if you're arching your back because you'll feel it pop off the floor

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Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Lie on your back with your arms extended above your chest, your legs rolled off the floor and your knees bent at 90-degree angles. Your hips should be posteriorly tilted and you should press your entire back into the floor.
  2. Take a deep breath, then exhale and slowly extend one leg and the opposite side arm away from your body. Keep the other arm and leg as still as possible. Do not allow your lower back to arch or pull off the floor as you extend your limbs.
  3. Finish the rep by inhaling and slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat and alternate sides.

6. Forearm Plank

Planks are another great core exercise for anterior pelvic tilt. However, planking with poor form (such as an arched lower back) can actually make anterior pelvic tilt worse. Be sure to pay close attention to your back position and consider recording your planks so you can evaluate your form after each set.

To obtain the greatest benefit from your plank, concentrate on doing your best to plank with as much full-body tension as possible. This position is harder to hold but more effective for building core and glute strength so you can improve pelvic positioning.

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Type Strength
Region Core
  1. Begin on the floor with your knees down, elbows beneath your shoulders and forearms flat on the ground.
  2. Try to engage your lats (upper back muscles) by imagining that you're pulling your elbows down toward your stomach. Spread your shoulder blades apart as you drive your elbows into the ground.
  3. Once your upper body position is set, extend your legs and come up onto your toes. Engage your butt and squeeze your legs together and imagine you're pulling your toes up toward your head. When viewed from the side, your back should be flat or slightly rounded and your pelvis tilted posteriorly.
  4. Hold the plank for time or for a certain number of deep breaths. Try to maintain as much tension as possible.

7. Glute Bridge

No list of anterior pelvic tilt exercises would be complete without glute bridges. Weak glutes play a big part in the development of anterior pelvic tilt. Glute bridges help you build glute and core strength and can also stretch tight hip flexors.

Type Strength
Region Core and Lower Body
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms on the ground and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Initiate the movement by driving your heels into the floor. Squeeze your butt tight and raise your hips up into a bridge position.
  3. Do not hyperextend your hips or lower back at the top of the bridge. When viewed from the side, your body should form a straight line through your shoulders, hips and knees.
  4. Hold the bridge for 1 to 3 seconds before returning your hips back to the floor.

8. Feet Elevated Glute Bridge

You can increase the difficulty of glute bridges by elevating your feet. This increases the range of motion and therefore enhances the demands on your glute and core strength.

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Skill Level Intermediate
Type Strength
Region Core and Lower Body
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, arms on the ground and feet elevated on a box or bench.
  2. Initiate the movement by driving your heels into the box. Squeeze your butt tight and raise your hips up into a bridge position.
  3. Do not hyperextend your hips or lower back at the top of the bridge. When viewed from the side, your body should form a straight line through your shoulders, hips and knees.
  4. Hold the bridge for 1 to 3 seconds before returning your hips back to the floor.

9. Swiss Ball Leg Curl

Swiss ball leg curls help build coordinated glute, core and hamstring strength, which makes them an ideal exercise to combat anterior pelvic tilt. Make sure you feel strong and confident with basic glute bridges before progressing to leg curls.

Skill Level Intermediate
Type Strength
Body Part Legs
  1. Lie on your back with your arms flat on the floor, legs extended and your ankles elevated on a Swiss ball.
  2. Initiate the movement by squeezing your butt and lifting your hips off the floor into a glute bridge. Don't hyperextend your hips or arch your lower back.
  3. Keep your hips off the ground as you slowly curl the ball back toward your body using your hamstrings.
  4. Finish the rep by slowly rolling the ball away from you until your legs are straight. Repeat for reps.

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