Last week I discussed all the ways you can go about strengthening your all-important posterior chain to enable better lifts and to remain injury free, and today we’re going to continue to ride the posterior chain train. Improving the strength in your posterior chain is only part of the battle to gaining better PC health. You also need to improve the flexibility and alignment of your PC and there is one major change that can make a huge difference. There is a condition a vast majority of desk sitters develop over time and I’m willing to bet many of you have it in varying degrees of severity: Anterior Pelvic Tilt. Fixing this will do untold wonders for you, no joke.
Anterior pelvic tilt is what happens to us when our bodies adapt to prolonged periods of sitting. The hip flexors, which are located in the groin area, connect your femur to your pelvis and lower back and will shorten over time from sitting because they aren’t getting stretched at all. Eventually, they become so tight that when you stand, they pull the front of your pelvis forward. This tilt then causes your back to arch excessively, putting constant stress on your lower back muscles and causing frequent lower back pain and flexibility issues. Additionally, APT and the conditions involving its development will affect your hamstrings and glutes negatively- you begin to favor your quads, your hamstrings lengthen which causes them to lose power, you don’t activate your glutes as much during activity, and because of all that your PC weakens considerably. Not only do you need a strong PC to get better in all lifts, you’re just asking for an unnecessary lower back injury.
If you’re like I was, you didn’t even know APT exists. I just thought I had a pretty bad back arch and an ass that stuck out. I accepted this reality and the attendant back pain and flexibility issues for years because I didn’t know any better. When your lower back is in that constant state of extreme arch, those muscles tighten up and fatigue and get stiff and all that. I couldn’t sleep on my back, couldn’t stand for long periods of time without my lower back hurting, and sometimes by lower back would hurt for no apparent reason after lifting weights, and after talking to friends I know I’m not alone.
After I heard about APT everything made sense. Thus, with absolute obsession I went on to correct it in less than a week. Now, I’m fine, and all I can really say is that it is fucking amazing. It may be the single greatest thing I have ever done for my body. I have *zero* back pain of any kind anymore, and that alone makes it worth it. I can get my hamstrings and glutes more involved in lifts, pushing my numbers up. Also, the sort of “pouch” look that your stomach gets with APT goes away, making your abs look better by default.
But, before we talk about how to fix it, let’s see what APT looks like-
Notice the very exaggerated lower back arch. Against a wall, I could easily fit a two liter bottle between my back and the wall. My ass sticks out like a woman’s. My stomach hangs out. Also notice the waistline of my shorts- it is at a pretty noticeable downward angle- and that’s the sign you’re looking for to determine APT. My entire body alignment is all whacked out with my legs significantly behind my torso, altering my center of gravity. If this is what you resemble, then yes you have APT.
Here is what it should look like-
My back arches normally. My pelvis is in line with my torso. My ass, large as it may be, does not stick out like a woman’s. My abs are popping a bit instead of hanging over. My waistline is flat or nearly so. This, my friends, is what you want to aim for.
How to fix it is actually really straightforward. I’ve seen people complain they can’t fix it or that it is a permanent condition, but that’s false and they’re just pussies. You can be lazy and try to fix it gradually or “at your own speed” (riiiight), or you can go nuts and get that shit fixed in a few days.
Nate’s Incredibly Simple APT Fix:
-Hip flexor stretching. Multiple sets of 30 seconds per leg throughout the course of the day. After you wake up, after your work out, and at night. Pounding these over and over and over again like a mad man. You’ll notice after even one round of sets that when you stand up your posture will be improved. Doing it multiple times a day reinforces this and returns you to normal in no time. Butterflies are also a great addition.
-Every day after a workout do multiple sets of glute bridges and Swiss ball leg curls. It’s not a coincidence I mentioned these in last week’s post. At night you are also doing glute bridges at home. In the morning you are doing glute bridges at home. The glute bridge gets your mind and body used to activating your glutes and conditions your body to have your hips in the natural position.
–Foam Rolling. Roll the living shit out of your lower back and hamstrings multiple times per day. It will loosen up those muscles and help relax your back end, further helping your pelvis return to the natural position.
-And finally, a weird one: Walk with your hips forward and your glutes clenched like you’re going to the prison showers. When you have APT you walk with pressure on the lower back area because that is how your spine rests and it’s what your body is used to. Squeeze your ass and hips forward as you walk, and it brings your spine into that neutral position (by terrie). When you’re just standing, squeeze them as forward as possible. Do this all the time, this is how you can train your body to keep that neutral position. It’s unnoticeable so don’t get self-conscious about it.
When you combine this little program with the posterior chain strengthening exercises discussed last week, you should see great results in a very short time. And it is vitally important that you are doing those strengthening exercises because you are going to find that after all this time having APT, your posterior chain is underdeveloped. It’s a one-two punch for rehabilitation. You can then move on to enjoying a back pain free life.
Of final note, if you sit every day for long periods of time you will need to remain vigilant. After intially going through the program for a week you should be all healed up, but afterwards you still need to keep up the stretching, glute bridges, and foam rolling- just not as intensely. Nowadays, I just do a few sets of each after a workout and that has been sufficient for keeping my pelvis in the neutral position.
Make sure you get your hands on a foam roller because you’ll need it.
Also be sure to try a pre-workout recommended by VK