Are you spending most of your waking hours sitting down?
Unless you live your life very different from the average person the answer to that question is most likely yes!
Many of us “desk jockeys” can’t avoid sitting for hours at a time but we can still have proper posture while doing so.
Maintaining good posture while sitting down and learning how to set up your workstation in a good manner can go a long way to fix an anterior pelvic tilt.
Anterior pelvic tilt is defined as a forward rotation of the pelvis. This unsightly body alignment is characterized by an exaggerated curve of the spine, which makes the stomach and butt protrude.
Some studies suggest that even without displaying symptoms, around 85 percent of men and 75 percent of women have an anterior pelvic tilt. Not only is it unattractive, but it can also lead to several health problems.
The most common reason people develop anterior pelvic tilt is leading a sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, those of us with “desk jockey” work can’t avoid sitting for long periods of time. However, it can get much worse if you have bad posture while sitting and standing.
Below, you can learn more about how to fix anterior pelvic tilt while sitting and how to begin practicing healthy postural habits today.
You will also come to understand which muscle groups to strengthen and stretch to reverse the negative effects your poor sitting posture has caused and you have a complete solution!
Why An Anterior Pelvic Tilt Is Bad For You
An anterior pelvic tilt, sometimes known as “Donald Duck” posture, can lead potentially lead to several different health problems some worse than others.
It messes with your hips by pulling too much in one side and reducing mobility. Your muscles, tendons and joints work together. They are all part of a closed system (your body) and they are interconnected and co-dependent.
So, pulling too much one side can affect your body in other areas. You can imagine a tug-of-war. Pulling on one side will affect the next muscle/opposing muscle.
E.g. some experts argue that tight hips causing an anterior pelvic tilt can lead to or worsen rounded shoulders because of how it affects the spinal curvature. If you want to know more about rounded shoulders and how to reverse it, then this might be helpful to you.
The following are just a few of the common issues people with anterior pelvic tilt face:
- Poor athletic performance.
- A limited range in spinal movement.
- More pressure on the vertebrae of the spine. This can lead to facet joint irritation, stress fractures and a quicker degeneration of spinal discs.
- Chronic pain. Not only can pain be experienced in the back and hips but even knees, ankles and feet can be affected.
- Symptoms of sciatica
How To Sit Down With Good Posture
The pelvis is where all good posture starts. Imagine a brick wall, if the bottom bricks (the pelvis) are not aligned correctly, the rest of the wall will be weak.
First, locate your sit bones (sharp cornered bones at the bottom of your pelvis). Simply slide your hands underneath your bottom to find them.
The ideal sitting position involves stacking your upper body directly above these bones. Sitting in front of them leads to developing an anterior pelvic tilt.
However, be careful not to over-correct because sitting too far behind them or tucking your tailbone underneath can also lead to other unhealthy postural problems.
If you like to sit and relax on a couch (who does not?), then this article about sitting on a couch with good posture might interest you. And if watching television in bed is your version of happiness, then you should read this.
To better understand what spinal neutral feels like, you can practice the following directions on a gym ball (if this is not available, you can also use a firm chair).
- Slump down as far as you can with your back and shoulders.
- Now sit up tall into full extension with your shoulders back as far as possible.
- Find the mid-point between the first two positions. It should feel somewhat comfortable and effortless.
- For good head posture, first tuck in your chin and then relax into a neutral position.
Now that you understand what spinal neutral feels like, be mindful to maintain it next time you find yourself sitting for a long period of time.
The following tips will help to ensure you have spinal neutral as well as proper pelvic alignment even when you’re seated.
Always place both your feet flat on the floor. Your legs (ankles, knees, and hips) should all be bent at a roughly 90 to 100-degree angle. If your chair is adjustable, move it accordingly to achieve this–if not, use cushions or a footrest to accommodate the length of your legs.
Try to distribute your weight evenly among your sit bones. Avoid keeping a wallet or other items in your back pockets. If you’re using a cushion, make sure it is firm, wide and even. Do not cross your legs for an extended period of time (you may cross your legs periodically to gently stretch the hip flexors).
Keep your chest in a neutral position. Avoid making the chest too convex or concave, that is– you should neither puff out your chest nor hunch over.
Pull your shoulder blades slightly back and down. Avoid squeezing your shoulder blades together too much (you can do this periodically as a stretch or exercise, as long as you don’t stay in this position).
Gently tuck in your elbows to the sides of your body.
Avoid jutting out your chin and tuck it in slightly. Imagine that there is a string being pulled at the top of your head and elongate your neck.
While these steps may initially feel awkward, like any good habit, with practice they will become second nature. Try these small adjustments today and your body will surely thank you!
You can read more about how to sit properly here.
The Extra Mile
If you want to speed things up you can do various exercises that strengthen and stretch different muscles that stabilize the pelvis.
An anterior pelvic tilt can be caused by several things, and it is often a combination. However, the main problem is tight hip flexors caused by sitting down. In other words, you will get the most bang for the buck by focusing on working on the hip flexors.
There is a popular exercise routine that is very effective at “unlocking” the hip flexors. I have used it myself with success. I have also written a review which you can check out here.
Besides stretching the hip flexors, you probably also want to stretch the lower back and strengthen your core, hamstrings, and glutes.