Anybody overcome APT on their own?

Discussion in 'Flexibility, Mobility, and Movement' started by freeflowme, Oct 7, 2019.

  1. freeflowme

    freeflowme Triple-Digit Post Count

    Hey all,

    After I got back into lifting in the early part of this year, it quickly became apparent to me that I have anterior pelvic tilt.

    After this realization, a lot of things made sense, namely the fact that when I first tried to get into Power to the People! and Enter the Kettlebell workouts a decade ago, I actually hurt my back (herniated my L4/L5) because my lower back was too "tight" (extended) and it put compression on the discs. When I felt discomfort, I assumed I must not be keeping my lower back tight enough, and would try to brace it harder when swinging or deadlifting, only to end up injuring myself and only much later understanding why.

    Knowing that I have this issue now, I don't focus on keeping my lower back tight at all when I lift. To the contrary, I focus hard on contracting my abs and glutes to pull my pelvis into a more correct, neutral position. I stretch my hip flexors every day, dynamically and statically, and I had hoped that deadlifting would help strengthen my glutes and abs and everything would be hunky dory. But it seems that my lower back is so tight that it takes a herculean effort to push my hips back and load my hamstrings for a deadlift or swing without my lower back being in extension and my erectors taking over for the lift, so I might not really be strengthening my glutes much at all, but rather just further strengthening my already imbalanced erectors.

    I've read a ton of articles on how to correct APT, and I've been trying to put a lot of it into practice for 6-8 months, with seemingly little to no improvement. So, I was wondering if any of you have dealt with the same issue and overcome it without going to PT, and if so, how? It's proving to be a frustrating limitation.

    Thanks much.
  2. SMalishev

    SMalishev Double-Digit Post Count

    Hmm I have historically had a fair bit of anterior pelvic tilt - but didn't really get my lower back to that level of tightness
    Definitely "escape your fighting stance" from Flexible Steel and trying to "feel" my back alignment during exercises (S+S in my case) has helped me combat it.
    If it's just posture and proprioception i'd give the 4 weeks to flexible steel routine a go.The 4 Weeks to Flexible Steel Program – Flexible Steel
    If it turns out to be something more complex i'd see a physio of course
  3. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    This description doesn't quite follow, logically. Your erectors cannot lift the load. You glutes have to contract to extend your hips, and your quads extend your knees; the hamstrings assisting both. Therefore, you are strengthening all these muscles when you deadlift. Your spinal erectors are just isometrically contracted... which is a good thing. You want these to be strong.

    What has convinced you that you actually have an anterior pelvic tilt problem? Do you see it in your standing posture? Does it exist in your lockout position? Are you capable of moving correctly with no load to the hinge (start) position and plank (standing/lockout) position?

    Focusing on bracing the abs hard is a good "counter" to tight erectors when deadlifting. Bracing, though; not "contracting to pull the pelvis into a more correct position."
  4. freeflowme

    freeflowme Triple-Digit Post Count

    @Anna C. It's pretty visible just glancing into the mirror. If I contract my abs and glutes really hard I can pull into a more neutral position. In doing so, though my upper back really rounds forward. So, honestly, I think part of the problem is poor t-spine mobility (extension), which is then compensated for in my lumbar spine.

    A lot of times I see chiros mentioned on here, the responses tend to be "go see a real doctor," but for whatever it's worth my chiro did say I have ATP when I was there recently for a neck issue. I didn't bring it up, she just said the issues flow from the top down for me - poor cervical mobility due to day-to-day tension and imbalance from my job, a T4 rib that pops out all the time (likely from my t-spine always being in flexion), and then hyperlordosis / ATP at the bottom. She gave me the general tips - stretch hip flexors, strengthen glutes and abs. I took "strengthen glutes" as an invitation to keep deadlifting.

    However, I wonder if there's ever a point where things are imbalanced enough that you should take care of them before putting as much load on yourself as a deadlift. I tried some ATP-corrective drills last night (bird dogs, dead bugs) and I can't keep my lower back from caving in on either one. I can do bird dogs just fine, and I feel activation in my glutes, but if I follow the directive to keep my pelvis tucked / back flat like you would on a plank, I don't really have the ab strength to stay in that position. Same with dead bugs - if I try to follow the directive to try to push my belly-button to the floor, I can barely do any reps, and no matter what I do it's my lower back that immediately feels a dull ache, not my abs. I've had that same feeling since high school when I tried to do any type of ab work at all, whether crunches (yeah, we all know better now), incline sit-ups, cable crunches, etc.

    I think it's possible to work though, but I wonder if I should put deadlifting to the side until I'm able to achieve a more neutral spinal position and have a more stable core.
  5. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @freeflowme, a neutral lumbar spine - if you understand your issues, and are able to deadlift safely and without pain now that your understanding is improved, there is no reason to avoid deadlifting. Sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good.

    As someone who had a lower back injury and who still must be careful, I can tell you that when I deadlift heavy, that is the only time my lumbar spine is truly neutral. And it's not necessary to keep that position all the time, just to go about the activities of both daily life and heavy lifting in ways that help you get stronger and don't get your hurt.

    FWIW, I don't do bird dogs or dead bugs, I do Cossack squats and splits, and I pick up heavy things.

  6. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    You can't stand in a neutral posture and tilt your pelvis back and forth without your upper back moving? I can move mine about an inch either direction, and no movement in the upper back. But who knows, maybe I'm odd. I don't usually have trainees try this.

    I'm just a trainer and a part-time one at that... but I am not convinced you have a problem to worry about and certainly not one that should stop you from deadlifting, providing your spine isn't moving unwittingly as you lift.

    However, ab strengthening is always a great thing to work on, regardless. Do you know the hardstyle sitback or hardstyle plank? Hollow holds or hollow rocks? Hanging leg raise (or lying version)? Just do some of these 2-3x/week at the end of a session. (Don't do them before other training - you don't want fatigued abs while lifting).
    Sean M likes this.
  7. rickyw

    rickyw More than 500 posts

    Im a chiro and athletic trainer. I coach people with anterior pelvic tilt and back issues through finding a neutral pelvis often.

    It takes a little wherewithal/coaching for some people to slide the pelvis into neutral. It shouldn’t take max contraction, but the glutes should be the main driver in finding the neutral pelvis. Then you quiet the musculature once you find that position. I have people rock their pelvis between anterior and neutral so they start to really feel the difference.

    Then, I teach them a kettlebell deadlift, with the key being the standing plank at the top with the glutes and abs engaged, the shoulders packed and the chin retracted. I am finding this is a powerful tool to teaching good posture and a neutral pelvis.

    If you find your upper back rounding while in a neutral pelvis position, poor thoracic extension mobility may be to blame as well.

    Just my two cents. I obviously have never met you so I can’t guarantee my thoughts will work in your case.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
    fractal likes this.
  8. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    Belly dance. Seriously.

    rickyw likes this.
  9. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Yep, this will teach new movement and control! It takes a lot of practice to move well. (Looking good while doing it is another story entirely...). But it's good practice. Many people literally can't do pelvic movement at all when they try. (Should we mention twerking? Seriously impressive...)

    As a StrongFirst alternative to actual belly dancing, go to 6:40 of this video:


Share This Page