Bad posture is the most common reason for an Anterior or Posterior Pelvic Tilt.
For good posture, balance, and stability in the saddle, it is essential that we have a neutral pelvis. Having a neutral pelvis allows us to maintain upper body posture stability. Lower limb control WHILST allowing movement in the hips to follow the movement of the horse.
The tilt of the pelvis is determined by measuring the angle of the Anterior Superior Iliac Spine (ASIS) and the Posterior Superior Iliac Spine (PSIS). These are bony structures on the front and back of your pelvis. You should be able to feel these with your fingers.
There are many considerations when measuring the range of ASIS and PSIS. Generally, a neutral pelvis is when there is a straight line from the PSIS to the ASIS or a slight anterior (forward) angle of 7-10 degrees.
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 muscles does APT 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 sitting more forward you will further increase the already dominant arch in your lower back. This reduces 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. This makes you feel perched and unstable at times. It is most noticeable through downward transitions.
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 muscles does PPT 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), and 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 collapse through the chest and look 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 of 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.
Does having a 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 the anterior, neutral, and posterior positions. When it is rigid it can cause a number of issues. From increased tension in the shoulders/neck to lower back ache/pain. You may even experience ‘Sciatic Symptoms’, due to the tight glutes applying pressure on the sciatic nerve. This can lead to pain and tingling sensations down one side. As well as a possible weakness in the knee and foot. This will, of course, affect your ability to control your legs.
Sciatica can only be 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. The links take you to videos on the RiderCise® Facebook page. This allows you to see how to perform the movement.