Training and Workouts

Lower back stretch routine plus Anterior pelvic tilt advice [Update 2020]

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I am the first one to raise my hand to admit being lazy and skipping mobility work and stretching. And yet, I would also be the first one to advocate it and tell you how absolutely crucial it is for the well-being of your body, especially when you put your body through the stress of regular workouts.

I think I’ve said it before, but here it is again – the time and effort you put into your recovery are equally important as the effort you invest in your workouts. Neglecting it can potentially bring you injuries, stiffness, and discomfort down the road. Believe me, I found that out the hard way.

One of my biggest struggles is lower back pain. I have an anterior pelvic tilt ( not anymore as of 2020 – yey!), which means that I basically look like those butt posing girls on Instagram even when standing normally. Unfortunately, that makes me prone to lower back issues, as well as overstretched hamstrings and very tight hip flexors. Now that I am aware of it, I am constantly working on improving my situation. 

Here is a little more information on the Anterior pelvic tilt, in case you have the same issues as me.

Characteristics of anterior pelvic tilt

Anterior pelvic tilt demonstration comparison pic
Left: Neutral spine; Right: Overarched lower back

Overarched lower back, glutes that stuck out, and a protruding stomach.

What causes it?

Excessive sitting as the main culprit

Having your pelvis tilted forward is one of the many negative effects of excessive sitting – long hours in front of the computer, driving, etc.

This leads to certain imbalances in the muscles controlling the pelvis position – some become weaker, some too tight or overactive.

And on the opposite side, standing for too long with the same posture may cause you to slip into APT because maintaining a neutral spine becomes tiring.

Physical inactivity

There are multiple muscles controlling the position of your pelvis. Physical inactivity, in general, leads to weak and imbalanced muscles. By consistent and targeted strength training you can improve your posture, minimize the pain, and increase your energy levels.

Imbalanced strength training

It’s not uncommon that women will put an emphasis on training their glutes but neglect other muscles, while men will spend hours pumping their biceps but never train their lower body properly. This leads to imbalances that sooner or later manifest themselves in different ways – postural or otherwise (injuries, chronic pain).

Furthermore, different sports often demand some overuse of certain muscles leading to imbalances – e.g. boxers will often have a stronger and tighter front shoulder in comparison to their back muscles, which leads to hunched shoulders and painful upper back.

Training all muscles is key to balanced and well-aligned body.

The anatomy of anterior pelvic tilt

As mentioned, the anterior pelvic tilt is caused by imbalances and weakness in some muscle groups (Gluteal group, Hamstring, Abdominals, Obliques) and stiffness in others (Hip flexors, Tensor fascia lata, Quadriceps, Lower back erectors, Thoracolumbar fascia).

So, logically, to fix it, you need to stretch out the overactive and stiff muscles, and strengthen the weak ones.

Now, having an APT doesn’t mean that you necessarily have all those problems at once. For me, as an example, the biggest issue is overactive hip flexors and very tight lower back erectors.

Why is tilted pelvis an issue?

Anterior pelvic tilt commonly leads to:

  • Lower back pain and tightness
  • Hamstring tightness
  • Knee hyperextension when standing

I know that with all the booty posing pictures and the whole cult towards rounded glutes nowadays, ATP might seem like a nice aesthetic plus. Unfortunately, ATP messes up with your posture in a negative way and might very well be the reason why your body is so stiff and hurting (even your upper back, neck, knees).

What not to do

If you have ATP, you are probably no stranger to the feeling of tightness in your hamstrings. The logical thing you want to do is stretch them, but this is exactly what you shouldn’t be doing. The hamstrings compensate for your tilted pelvis and overarched lower back and, as a result, they are overstretched the entire time, which gives you the sensation of tightness. Instead of stretching them, focus on releasing and loosening the muscle groups I mentioned before.

Last but not least, as someone who is dealing with the issue herself, I can reassure you that in order to make any change and improvement, you have to consciously focus on keeping a neutral spine and learn to control the position of your pelvis throughout your day – when sitting and standing.

Remember that the default setting of your body is to assume an anterior pelvic tilt position. Until you reboot your body into keeping neutral pelvic tilt by itself, you’ll have to train your brain as well and be constantly aware of correcting your posture.

Other contributing factors

Extra weight in the abdominal region

Any extra weight in your abdominal area will make you prone to anterior pelvic tilt.

This means that overweight people, as well as pregnant women, will most likely develop anterior pelvic tilt.

In the cases with overweight people, losing that extra weight will greatly benefit not just their overall health but their posture as well.

Foot pronation

Another factor that can lead to anterior pelvic tilt is flat feet. If you have this issue consider consulting with a podiatrist to examine your foot pronation and treat the problem.

Related reads: 7 Corrective Exercises To Help You Fix Your Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Stretching Routine:

Now that we have all that cleared out, let’s move on to the original point of this article – a lower back stretch routine, which, hopefully, can help you release any tightness or pain you experience in that area.

1. Puppy dog pose

Okay, this is not exactly targeting your lower back, but it is a great pose to lengthen your spine and open your chest. That’s why I like to start any back stretching routine with it – it makes me feel more prepared for what’s coming next. If you feel like your nose is being smashed, just turn your head to the side. Hold for at least 30 seconds. 

Girl performing Puppy Dog Yoga pose

2. Upward facing dog

From the Puppy dog pose, I like to transition to the Upward facing dog. This one you will definitely feel in your lower back. You should either keep your head neutral or slightly facing towards the ceiling. Just remember to not let your shoulders sink. Same as the previous pose – hold for at least 30 seconds. 

Girl demonstrating the Upward facing dog yoga pose

3. Seated Forward Fold

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A few things to remember with this pose – 1) Never force yourself further than your torso naturally can go; 2) If you can’t take the sides of your feet in your hands, loop a strap around the foot soles, and hold the strap firmly; 3) Keep your elbows straight, not bent. Hold for 15-30 seconds and progressively increase the time, as the pose becomes more comfortable. 

Girl demonstrating Seated forward fold yoga pose.

4. Spinal Stretch

This one is a personal favorite. Starting on the floor, legs are stretched. With your right arm stretched to the right, lift your right knee and move it across your left knee. Contract your abs before bringing your knee up and over the leg. Repeat with the other leg. If you have someone who can assist you, they can put some pressure simultaneously to your knee and shoulder to make the stretch a little more intense. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds each side and repeat 2-3 times.

Girl performing Spinal stretch pose.

5. Knee-To-Chest 

Pretty self-explanatory and a nice follow-up to the pose above. Begin by lying with your back on the floor. Grasp each knee, or both knees together, and pull them to your chest. Hold for 10-15 seconds, and repeat 2-3 times.

Girl performing knee-to-chest exercise.

6. Cat-Camel 

This one can also help to learn how to control the positioning of your pelvis. Starting on your hands and knees on the floor, relax your head and allow it to drop while rounding your back up toward the ceiling. Hold this position for as long as it feels comfortable, about 15 to 30 seconds and comes back to a neutral spine position. Then you go in the opposite position – your stomach going toward the floor and lifting your buttocks toward the ceiling. Hold for the same amount of time and repeat 2-4 times.

Girl performing the Cat-Camel Back Stretch.

7. Child’s pose/Extended Child’s pose

Child's pose vs. extended child's pose for relieving lower back pain.

I find both variations of child’s pose to be very helpful and soothing. The main difference between both is that with the regular child’s pose you have your feet and legs together and get a nice, soft stretch in the lower back.

In extended child’s pose, your feet are together but your knees slide apart from each other and outside your torso. You lean forward, lowering your chest to the ground and extending your arms. This way you get a nice hip, groin, and shoulder stretch and lengthen your spine.

I’m sure you’ll find both positions to be very calming so do them for however long you feel comfortable – 2-3 minutes or more.

8. Seated forward fold on chair

Seated forward fold on a chair stretching exercise demonstation for correcting anterior pelvic tilt.

This stretch is great especially when you feel extra tight in your lower back. The best thing is you can do it on your desk chair and get a few minutes of it throughout your workday.

Simply lean as much forward as you can while sitting on a chair. You should feel a soft stretch in your back. Hold for about a minute at a time.

9. Standing quadriceps stretch

Standing quad stretch demonstration to relieve tight hip flexors.

Since you have the chair there, you might as well use it to assist you in another stretching exercise that will target the front of your thigh – the quadriceps and the hip flexors.

Use the chair to hold for balance, bent your right knee and grab your right foot/ankle, assisting it to bend further back. Hold for 30 seconds than change sides. Repeat for 2-3 sets.

10. Psoas stretch/ Lunge stretch

psoas stretch correct vs. wrong form demonstration.

The lunge stretch is yet another way to target the hip flexors (and particularly the psoas muscle).

Make sure not to overextend your back. In fact, to perform the exercise correctly, you need to go into posterior pelvic tilt. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and both knees bent at 90 degrees. You might already feel the stretch in your hip flexors (of your back leg).

To get a deeper stretch, lean your torso forward while maintaining your posterior pelvic tilt position and tight core like shown below.

deep hip flexor psoas stretch.

Take away

How successful you’ll be in fixing or improving your anterior pelvic tilt depends largely on your consistency. To see the best results, try to practice these stretches daily. You don’t need to do all of them every day – you can pick 4-5 of them to do one day and then 4-5 for the next day.

Remember to keep your posture in mind throughout your day and try not to slip into anterior pelvic tilt.

When at the gym – avoid overextending your lower back when doing exercises like squats, deadlifts, or even push-ups (I’ve seen it!).

If your job involves sitting down a lot, make sure to get up frequently and take breaks.

Improving your posture and stretching prior to any physical activity is absolutely vital for preventing not only lower back pain but injuries to your body overall. 

Note: The routine here is mostly static stretching that aims to:

1) improve the control you have over your spine and pelvis alignment

and

2) help you relax the tight muscle groups (primarily hip flexors and lower back), which contribute to the posture deviation.

However, for optimal results, you need to strive to correct the muscle imbalances by strengthening the weaker muscles – mainly abdominals and glutes. I strongly urge you to check out the following routine of 7 corrective exercises for anterior pelvic tilt

I’d love to hear more about you!

Are you experiencing any lower back pain? What are your ways to prevent or minimize it?

ALSO, if you found this article helpful, don’t forget to pin it! Thank you! 🙂

27 Comments
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27 Comments

  1. Stephanie
    October 14, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Such helpful stretches. These really do help a lot!

  2. Erika Ravnsborg
    November 15, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I love those poses. I do them whenever I have a bit of pain myself

  3. Sara Flanagan
    November 16, 2017 at 3:40 am

    Thank you so much for sharing! My sister has lower back pain and I am sending this her way right now. I appreciate all of the info <3

  4. Sara
    November 16, 2017 at 9:38 pm

    My lower back constantly hurts, so I’l definitely be trying these stretches out. Thank you!

    xx Sara
    https://sararentas.wixsite.com/blog/

  5. Sara | mshealthesteem.com
    December 6, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I love all of those poses and always add them to my yoga practise! Thanks for sharing. Stretching is so important ♡ and yet it’s an easy thing to neglect.

  6. Kyla Matton Osborne
    December 7, 2017 at 12:50 am

    I used to do all of these stretches as a young girl. Apparently, I needed to do them more often! I will have to start doing them again and see if it helps.

  7. Sharon
    January 26, 2018 at 3:06 am

    OMG, you have described how I look and feel all the time!! My body knew it needed to stretch but I didn’t know WHAT to stretch. I have the same tilt in my hips and butt. Thank you for this article!!

    • Lily
      January 26, 2018 at 8:50 pm

      Thanks for reading, Sharon! I am happy that you found the article helpful! 🙂

  8. Barbara
    January 31, 2018 at 11:13 pm

    Thanks for this! Due to having scoliosis I also have this problem with the additional issue of having difficulty bending forward from the waist. I’m just starting to get a routine of exercise (at 51) and have difficulty doing crunches. Do you have any advice on what exercises not to do with this issue? I’ve considered using leg lifts (laying on my back lifting and spreading legs apart and back together before setting them down) to replace crunches. I hate my “swayback mule” look but I don’t think mine will improve.

  9. Debi
    February 10, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    It’s also important to stretch the psi as with An anterior pelvic tilt… maybe add that to this routine?

  10. Abina
    October 29, 2018 at 10:48 pm

    I’m not going to lie. I only read the title of this article and I’m sold. I always have lower back pain and it’s such a henderance in my life! Thanks for sharing. https://www.thoughtsparsed.com

  11. lucymarytaylor
    November 15, 2018 at 9:25 pm

    I have lower back problems because of my illness, so I’m going to try out these stretches! I’m always on the look for routines like this to help my body xx

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

    • Lily
      November 18, 2018 at 2:14 pm

      Hey Lucy!
      I really hope these help you, just be consistent!

  12. Stephanie
    February 25, 2020 at 5:35 pm

    I was once in that group that didn’t stretch too much. Now it’s one of my favorite things, yoga lover here!! I like doing all the stretches you mentioned in this post, they feel so good!

  13. Elaine
    March 27, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    What I have learned, is, these stretches should be done several times a day, not just 3 times a week. That was real important for me to know. I kept wondering why I wasn’t feeling relief.

    • Lily
      March 28, 2020 at 3:41 pm

      That is very true! It always comes down how severe the pain is but I would always advise people to do the stretches at least twice a day if you are sitting for longer times!

  14. Patricia Adams
    April 13, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    I do a lot of sitting and standing throughout my work day. I’m a medical assistant and rush thru the office quite a bit as well as sit to type the patients intake and sit at my desk to complete chart notes. Some days I’m at my desk all day tending to the phone lines. At home I stand in the kitchen cooking and doing dishes in the evening. My lower back and hips are constantly sore and achy. This is EXACTLY what I’m looking for. Thanks for sharing.

    • Lily
      April 14, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Thank you so much for the detailed feedback Patricia! I am really glad to hear that it helped you out! 🙂

  15. Sandra
    April 26, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    How soon can you see the effects of these stretches??

    • Lily
      April 28, 2020 at 10:10 pm

      Hey Sandra,
      it really varies from person to person. But if you implement these stretches 3 to 5 times a week in your daily routine, you should see some improvements after a week or two! 🙂

  16. Stacey K Decorah
    April 29, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    I’m 54 and have had issues with my hips and severe pain for a few years. What I don’t understand is some days there is no pain and other days it’s impossible to lift my leg up or I walk with a limp. I do sit the majority of the day at a desk. I’ve never been much for stretching and massaging but that is probably why I’m in the condition I am. I will start doing these and hopefully I will see some results! Thank you for your help!

  17. Vasu
    May 13, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for showing us these exercises. I hope these exercises will help me to get rid of my back pain.

    • Lily
      May 14, 2020 at 10:29 am

      Hey Vasu,

      let me know if it helps you with your back pain! 🙂

  18. Lynn
    May 19, 2020 at 12:44 pm

    So glad I found these stretches. I’m starting them today. Currently I am on nerve pain meds for what I think is a pinched nerve originating from the lower back/sciatica. Right leg is painful and numb from the knee down. Hoping these stretches help.

    Lynn

    • Lily
      May 20, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Thank you Lynn – I hope they will help you out! Keep me updated! 🙂

  19. Graham Crosby
    May 27, 2020 at 6:42 pm

    I really suffer with my lower back and although I do some of these exercises, there are a lot I haven’t tried. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lily
      May 27, 2020 at 7:20 pm

      Sorry to hear that!
      I hope those stretches will help you and relieve some pain!

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