Training For Optimal Pelvic Alignment
- October 20, 2020
- Posted by: Daniel Ryan
- Category: Foot and Ankle Injuries, Gym Training, Low Back Pain, Move Physiotherapy
A Simple Question, Firstly
Are you ‘smart’ training?
By this, I mean, are you training with a purpose?
… Now that purpose may be different for every person. When I was a fresh baby faced 18 year old, my purpose was simple – as much muscle as possible – cue entering the ritual of early adulthood.
These days, my goal has changed – and my training is designed to maintain my posture and support my hobbies (running and climbing). My gym training now reflects these goals.
… So the question needs to be repeated again. Are you doing the same routine that you were for the last 5 years? Or have you adapted your training to match your new goals?
Training for Optimal Pelvic Alignment
What happens at your pelvis seriously affects what happens with the rest of the body.
Do you have a huge lumbar lordosis and forward pelvic tilt? If so, you’re most likely dealing with glutes that aren’t doing their share of the load.
These people have short and overactive lower back muscles that are often ‘doing the work of your glutes and hamstrings’. They are constantly tight! And no matter how much you’re stretching they never seem to let go!
What about posterior pelvic tilt? Your glutes MAY be working. But, your hamstrings will most likely be short and stiff. Your lower back muscles are often not ‘tight’, but prolonged times in this posture can lead to other lower back injuries – such as disc injuries. It can also cause some issues up the chain – with rounded shoulders and a forward head posture!
Each of us are constantly exposed to loads that will develop muscles in certain areas – drawing us into particular postures. So for example, the desk worker – is dealing with prolonged positions that encourage us to round the shoulders, poke the head forward, switch off our glutes (sitting is the new smoking), and shorten our hamstrings. The question is – is our training reflecting what we need to do to counteract this? Are we training in a way that achieves the number 1 most important thing – MOVEMENT VARIETY?
Or, are we dumb training? Are we shortening our pecs by sitting at the desk all day – and then going to the gym and doing a bench press 3x/week? Because, Monday is chest day. Or are we sitting constantly – and then we go into the gym and only training squatting type movements? What about our hinge style movements – to develop our glutes and hamstrings?
Fixing Forward Pelvic Tilt
This is the most typical flawed lower body posture. A forward tilt pelvic posture and an increased inwards curvature of our lumbar spine. If this is you – we need to fix the following things:
- Short and tight lumbar spine muscles – release and stretch these muscles
- Short hip flexors – often WEAK also – this is the anomily that often requires stretching and strengthening
- Weak abdominal muscles – focus on your ‘main muscles’ – your rectus abdominis and external obliques – strengthen these!
- Weak gluteals – strengthen these!
- Lengthened and weak hamstrings – strengthen these!
Most people when they come into the clinic complain of two things – tightness in their lower back, and tightness in their hamstrings. And physio in the past has focused purely on massaging and releasing these lower back and hamstring muscles, because, that’s where the injury is, right?
No – and the unfortunate reality is that far too many people in our healthcare industry still believe this flawed notion. The primary issue is our pelvic position.
And fixing our pelvic position is predominantly a STRENGTHENING ISSUE. And if your physio has spent 15-minutes massaging a few muscles and slapdash thrown in some theraband exercises in the last 2 minutes – they aren’t fixing the problem.
Fixing Backwards Pelvic Tilt
The injuries of excessive backwards pelvic tilt are very different.
Firstly, the lumbar spine doesn’t like being rounded – especially under load.
Now – we can BUILD TOLDERANCE to load in a rounded back position – thinking of exercises such as the Jefferson Curl. As a profession, we definitely don’t vilify the position as we used to. But when we task our lumbar spine to lift heavy loads in a rounded position it can lead to injuries such as your disc bulges and herniations.
Furthermore, a flat lumbar spine can lead to increased kyphosis or upper back rounding – leading to tightness in the neck and shoulders and rotator cuff issues.
If this is you, you most likely need to:
- Hip flexors – psoas, illiascus, rectus femoris
- Lumbar spine muscles
- Rectus abdominis and external obliques.
We will continue this ‘postural correction’ series over the next few weeks. But, as a general guide – train your ‘weaknesses’ 3x weekly. Ensure that you are achieving ‘movement variety’.