Posterior pelvic tilt is the opposite of anterior pelvic tilt; the back of the pelvis has dropped, and the front of the pelvis has risen.
The two main muscles that are frequently tight with posterior pelvic tilt are the gluteal muscles and the hamstrings. The gluteal muscles function is to extend the hip and posteriorly tilt the pelvis. The hamstrings assist the gluteal muscles and also bend the knee. With posterior pelvic tilt, there are also the hip flexors and lumbar spine extensors that can be weak or inhibited. Additionally, the abdominal muscles may contribute to posterior pelvic tilt if they are unable to flex the spine.
What Causes Posterior Pelvic Tilt?
Some people are considered to be at risk for posterior pelvic tilt – primarily gym-goers who over-focus on developing glutes (their buttocks), abdominal muscles, and hamstrings. Any exercise that isolates the abdominal muscles can cause an imbalance between the abdomen and back. Therefore, bicyclists, ballet dancers, and gymnasts can have problems with posterior pelvic tilt.
Another reason for posterior pelvic tilt is the body’s standing posture eroding as we age. We experience changes in thoracic, lumbar, and pelvic posture. Discs can degenerate, causing a loss of height. The pelvis tilts posteriorly to compensate.
Many pregnant women experience posterior pelvic pain from stretched muscles and released hormones.
Do You Have Posterior Pelvic Tilt?
With a posterior pelvic tilt, the top of the pelvis is rocked backward slightly, causing the spine to compensate. The spine loses the natural inward curve of the lower back. Thus, posterior pelvic tilt is frequently referred to as “flat back.”
As posterior pelvic tilt advances, the upper body begins to pitch forward, because the spine runs the length of the back and a change in one area causes a change in other areas. As the arch flattens in the lower back, the upper back (thorax) and neck (cervix) are pushed forward. Therefore, people with advanced posterior pelvic tilt often appear to be stooped over.
You can compare your posture to that pictured above to make an initial conclusion about the likelihood that you have posterior pelvic tilt. Also, you may experience back, hip, or leg pain.
The flattening of the lumber spine can cause some major problems for the spine. If you have posterior pelvic tilt, you probably have a hard time getting your hip joints to let go of your pelvis, so your pelvis does not tilt forward when you bend forward. Frequently there is no mechanical reason for this; it appears to be a learned movement fault.
If you believe your lower back pain may be due to posterior pelvic tilt, an assessment by a medical professional is a good idea before beginning any exercise or treatment plan.
How Posterior Pelvic Tilt Impacts Your Life
Lower back pain may result from posterior pelvic tilt due to the spinal discs being subjected to uneven pressure. This pressure may cause a bulge, rupture, or herniated disc with resulting pain.
As with anterior pelvic tilt, balance can be affected as well as posture, which can be stooped and unattractive. Again, pain is the most difficult aspect to deal with, causing loss of physical ability and possible depression.
Posterior pelvic tilt is not as common as anterior pelvic tilt. Our daily lives with their emphasis on sedentary positions place stress on our pelvis causing anterior pelvic stress. However, posterior pelvic tilt still causes lower back pain for many people. Understanding the causes of and determining if you have posterior pelvic tilt can help you effectively choose treatment options and improve the health and appearance of your spine and lower back.