Pelvic position influences our seat balance and contact on the reins as also muscles tightness and overall body posture on the saddle. In this blog, you will find useful information on how to improve your position during riding. You will also learn how to differentiate two pelvic positions and their effect on your body during riding a horse.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT)
An Anterior Pelvic Tilt is when your pelvis is rotated forwards causing an increased curve in the lumbar (Lower Back) and an appearance of a ‘bulging’ stomach.
What does it affect?
When you have an APT the Rectus Abdominis and External Obliques (abdominal muscles) and Glutes & Hamstrings (bum & back of legs) are typically weak / lengthened muscles.
Simultaneously the Psoas, Iliacus (internal postural muscles), Rectus Femoris (quadriceps), Tensor Fascia Latae (Hip) and Erector Spinae (spine) muscles are strong and stiff.
How does an APT affect your riding?
You will have a tendency to sit on your pubic bone instead of your seat bones and because you are sat more forward you will then further increase the already dominant arch in your lower back to bring your upper body back. This will reduce the suppleness of your shoulder girdle and hips, which may result in being able to obtain an elastic contact (give and take with ease).
Due to the tight muscles in your quadriceps and TFL, you will also ride fairly short to counterbalance your seat and torso position and feel perched and unstable at times. You will feel this most through downward transitions.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt visible during horse riding. Photo thanks to the courtesy of EquinePhotoDesign.com
A Posterior Pelvic Tilt (PPT)
A Posterior Pelvic Tilt is when your pelvis is rotated backward which causes the back to be pulled downwards giving the appearance of a [Flat Back and Flat Bum].
What does it affect?
When you have a PPT you would have short & tight Hamstrings (back of legs), tight abdominal muscles (no, this is not a benefit as it will also be pulling on the pelvis, upwards which will make the PPT worse), tight Glutes (bum), Weak Hip Flexors and lower back.
How does a PPT affect your riding?
You may find that you round your shoulders and carry your hands forwards and collapsing through the chest and looking downwards (think slumping in a chair).
You will often feel left behind in the saddle and you can rely on your reins for balance as you are not able to engage your core and left your chest high.
Because of the slumping type posture, the back is compromised and there is no ‘natural’ curve in the lower back which inhibits the spines’ ability to absorb shock. This can lead to pain over time and even compromise the structure of the spinal discs.
Posterior Pelvic Tilt visible during horse riding. Photo thanks to the courtesy of EquinePhotoDesign.com
Does having non-neutral Pelvic Tilt really matter?
It really depends on the extent of the tilt and whether you have any issues with riding and/or are suffering from some pain of some sort after riding.
More often than not, pelvic tilts occur over time from lack of exercise, mobility and poor posture. Because it is often gradual, we don’t realize the effect it has on us.
The pelvis should have the mobility to move through anterior, neutral and posterior but when it is rigid it can cause a number of issues from increased tension in the shoulders and neck to lower back ache/pain and you may even experience ‘Sciatic Symptoms’, due to the tight glutes (namely the piriformis) apply pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can lead to pain and tingling sensations down one side and have weakness in the knee and foot. This will, of course, affect your ability to control your legs.
Sciatica is only a condition is determined by MRI, otherwise, it is a symptom, which can typically be treated when the cause is addressed.
How do I know if I do have a Pelvic Tilt
It is often best to seek advice from a Soft Tissue Therapist or Sports Therapist as finding the anatomical structures on your body yourself can be difficult!
Watch these videos which explain a little more about how to test yourself or ask someone to help you.
So how do I correct my pelvic tilt?
To correct a pelvic tilt you should stretch the short and tight muscles and do a range of exercises to increase mobility and strength.
Below I have listed some exercises for you to try. If you click on them they will take you to a video on the RiderCise® Facebook pages which will show you how to correctly perform the movement.
Stretches for Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Stretches to correct a Posterior Pelvic Tilt
Strengthening exercises for both APT and PPT
Are you looking for an easier way to correct a pelvic tilt and retrain the correct muscles with strength and mobility? I highly recommend you sign up for the RiderCise® Complete Programme offers a structured way to gradually increase fitness, strength, and mobility throughout the whole body.