Some pelvic tilt is present in everyone. Anything beyond 10 degrees can cause lower back pain.
In fact, it is one of the major reasons for lower back pain. Back pain occurs when the pelvis is tilted forward, backward, or laterally causing muscle imbalances and excessive pressure. Therefore, if you suffer from lower back pain, it is important to understand what pelvic tilt is and what causes it, as well as how to prevent and treat your tilted pelvis.
A neutral position of the pelvis distributes and balances the body’s weight evenly upon the discs and vertebrates of the spine. Your pelvis rests upon your femurs. Pelvic tilt is the orientation of the pelvis as it relates to the position of the femurs and the space upon which the pelvis sits. The pelvis can be tilted in one of three basic directions: anterior, posterior and lateral.
1. Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Anterior pelvic tilt is identifiable if the spine arcs backwards creating a hollow cavern in the low back area. When the hip flexors shorten and the hip extensors lengthen, the front of the pelvis drops and the back of the pelvis rises. This is the most common type of pelvic tilt.
2. Posterior Pelvic Tilt
The opposite of anterior pelvic tilt is posterior pelvic tilt. The back of the pelvis drops and the front of the pelvis rises. With posterior pelvic tilt, there is a slouching posture in the lower back which results in a hump in the spine’s lumbar region.
3. Lateral Pelvic Tilt
Lateral pelvic tilt can be either a left or a right tilt. It is usually present in people with scoliosis (curvature of the spine) or those with differing leg lengths.
Common Causes of Pelvic Tilt
Common causes of excessive pelvic tilt are jobs that require long hours of sitting, poor or distorted posture, poor muscle balance, faulty abdominal training, and pregnancy.
When the muscles in the legs, hips, buttocks, back, and stomach are balanced, the pelvis is in a neutral position. Pelvic tilt occurs when these muscles become unbalanced in flexibility, length, and strength, and the pelvis is pulled in one direction more than another. Imbalances resulting in pelvic tilt can be caused either by excessive athletic activity that unevenly taxes the body, or by a sedentary lifestyle.
Treatment of Pelvic Tilt
Lower back pain from pelvic tilt can be decreased with treatments and therapeutic exercises. Treatment of pelvic tilt involves correcting muscle imbalances with exercises designed to realign the pelvis and strengthen muscles.
If incorrect or excessive athletic training caused the pelvic tilt, cross-training and working all of the muscle groups evenly is encouraged. If caused by a sedentary life-style, posture and balance exercises are introduced.
If your lower back pain is caused by pelvic tilt, determining the reason you have pelvic tilt and whether it is anterior, posterior, or lateral is the first step in eliminating the pain. Treatment emphasizing the prevention of future lower back pain will begin the process of correcting your pelvic tilt.