My hips have felt terrible for a long time. Lately, it has been worse. My hips feel very tight when I’m running. It’s shortening my stride and making me slow.
I thought I had been doing a pretty good warm-up before running – hip swings, lunges, runner’s stretch – so it has been pretty frustrating to feel like I’m not making any progress and for every run to feel like torture.
After doing some research on the good ol’ internet, I have concluded that I most likely have anterior pelvic tilt, and I need to fix it.
What’s anterior pelvic tilt?
Anterior pelvic tilt is a problem with your posture, muscles and ligaments that causes the top of your pelvis to be tilted forward. This happens to people who sit a lot because your hip flexors and rectus femoris (one of your quadricep muscles) shorten. According to Bret Contreras (The Glute Guy), some degree of anterior pelvic tilt is normal for athletes, and it may not cause any problems.
But sometimes anterior pelvic tilt does cause problems.
- Lower back pain
- Tight hips
- Sway back that causes your butt and belly to stick out
- Weak glutes/difficulty activating glutes during exercises
Why do I think I have anterior pelvic tilt?
The causes and symptoms I mentioned above apply to me. I sit all day for my job. Now that I work from home, I barely get up from my desk between 8 AM and 4 PM because I don’t have to walk around to talk to coworkers. If I do have to get up, I don’t go very far.
Tight hips are my main problem, but I have experienced low back pain in the past when I wasn’t doing anything to take care of my hips. I find it difficult to activate my glutes. I’m quad dominant. And if we’re being honest, I think improving my posture could help my abs look a little flatter.
Finally, there is a test you can do to check for possible anterior pelvic tilt. It’s called the Thomas Test, and you can read about it here. I took a video of myself performing this test and saw that one knee extends when I pull the opposite knee to my chest, confirming anterior pelvic tilt.
What am I doing to fix this?
To start, let me tell you what I was doing before this revelation. I was doing a lot of stretching. Sitting in pigeon pose, runners lunge, cobra pose and lots of others. Stretching helped a little bit, but I still had significant hip tightness because it was a temporary solution. The problem is my pelvis is trained to be tilted, my quads to be contracted and my hip flexors to be shortened. They return to those positions by default shortly after stretching.
The solution is to do strengthening exercises that bring the pelvis back into the right position. That means strengthening the glutes. I don’t think I have to completely abandon stretching, however. It can be hard to activate your glutes when your hip flexors and quads are extremely tight. For example, it can he hard to keep your pelvis from dropping during a glute bridge if you don’t have the range of motion to keep it forward. I think the key is a combination of stretching to allow your pelvis to move to a more neutral position and strengthening those opposite muscles to help keep it there. To achieve this, I have cobbled together this combination of strengthening exercises and stretches. I’ll also be cueing myself throughout the day to keep my core tight.
Glute bridge with leg extension
Barbell hip thrusts
Walking spiderman with overhead reach
90 90 floss (It’s the second video on the linked page)
Couch stretch with glute squeeze