The degree of anterior pelvic tilt and abdominal muscle strength

Published: 23rd June 2011
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According to common knowledge, one of the key muscles in anterior pelvic tilt are the abdominal muscles. The most visible of the muscles is the rectus abdominis, a paired muscle that runs vertically on both sides of the abdomen.

this muscle is what you see in a "sixpack". Since these muscles are involved in tilting the pelvis backwards (i.e. posterior pelvic tilt), many have assumed that how strong the muscles are is correlated with the degree of anterior pelvic tilt during standing.

All this does make sense anatomically. When you have anterior pelvic tilt, where the pelvis is tilted forwards, the abdominal muscles would appear to be stretched downwards, which could cause them to lengthen and become weak as time passes. This is why several people, some of them physiotherapists, recommend training the abdominal muscles when you have too much pelvic tilt.

The problem with this idea is that it's based on a anatomical hypothesis of what should happen during anterior pelvic tilt, not what really happens. Empirically, it remains to be proven that abdominal muscle strength is related to anterior pelvic tilt in any way. What's more, even if abdominal muscle strength were associated with anterior pelvic tilt, it doesn't prove that training the muscles helps to fix anterior pelvic tilt.

A common way of measuring abdominal muscle strength is the leg-lowering test. To perform the leg-lowering test, lie on your back and raise your feet into the air so that your upper body and legs are in a 90 degree angle while keeping your knees straight. Keep your spine flat against the ground. Then, lower your both legs at the same time while keeping your knees straight and your back flat against the ground. This should take ten seconds. Note the point when your back begins to arch: this is the cut-off point.

In one study, 31 healthy men and women were measured for abdominal muscle strength, lumbar lordosis (i.e. the curvature of the spine) and the degree of pelvic tilt. The leg-lowering test was used to measure muscle strength. The association between the three factors was so small that according the authors, abdominal muscle function, lumbar lordosis and pelvic tilt were not associated.

This is explained by the fact that the abdominal muscles are not active while standing and walking. The strength or weakness of the abdominal muscles is therefore probably not accountable for anterior pelvic tilt or lumbar lordosis, even if this association has often been assumed.

The authors note that while the leg-lowering test is a common test in measuring abdominal muscle function, it has not been proven to measure it correctly. A different way of measuring might have yielded different results. What's more, the length of the abdominal muscles was not measured. Therefore, it is possible that the structure of the abdominal muscles is involved in anterior pelvic tilt.

However, the study shows that some of the information out there on anterior pelvic tilt does not have a basis in science.

About the Author

Jerry Lewis is the author of pelvic-tilt.com, the site dedicated to tips, tricks and instructions on fixing anterior pelvic tilt and other common postural deficiencies. Read more about anterior pelvic tilt at his website.

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