A lot of the time, when I have a new client come into the gym to run through a movement assessment, I see a lot of anterior pelvic tilt. It’s pretty common in women. However, what I also find is that while standing, relaxed a new client might have good neutral posture but as soon as I ask them to squat, they go straight into APT (anterior pelvic tilt) to initiate the lift.
I’m not sure if the rise of the Insta Fitness Celebrity has any effect on this or whether it was just a crappy cue like “squat like you’re sitting back on a chair” but it’s what I find myself correcting a lot.
First things first, when we are lifting anything we want to stack our rib cage over our hips. As much as possible, we want a neutral hip position and we want to avoid flaring up through the rib cage. Why? For the following reasons (and many more):
- Poke your hips behind you. Then try to squeeze your glutes. You can’t. There’s a reason why those with postural APT have weak or “lazy” (I don’t like that definition) glutes, it’s because they can’t use them properly in the position they stand. Tucking your hips under you and finding a neutral position is going to allow for proper glute max recruitment and make your lifts stronger and a lot more stable.
If you’re finding it difficult to find “neutral” I like to use this as a preactivation exercise: squat down to parallel. You can do this holding onto a pole in front of you if you require some stabilisation. Poke your hips back into an anteriorly tilted position, hold for a 3 count. Pull your hips forward into neutral, glutes relaxed, core tense, hold for three seconds. Now go into a posterior pelvic tilt, hips tucked right under you, hold for three. Repeat through 5-10 times.
- When we lift a load, we want to begin the lift in a position that we can hold for the entire lift. When we initiate a squat, for instance, in lumbar extension or APT, under heavy load it’s quite difficult to maintain the position through the concentric (the UP part) of the movement. More than likely, we are going to hit the hole and fall into neutral spine/pelvis or even flexion through spine/posterior tilt through pelvis. This is no good. Movement through the spine this way causes shearing force and increases our risk of back issues and disc injuries.
Initiating lifts in neutral allows us to hold the position under load far more easily, reducing our risk of injury and providing stronger mechanics for movement.
- DEPTH. When we tilt our pelvis backwards, the opening at the front of our hip becomes smaller, leaving less room for your femur and femoral head to glide in the socket. This means that we can’t squat to as low of a depth. Mechanically, it is just not possible. APT/lumbar lordosis in the squat also contributes to higher rates of anterior hip impingement, which bloody hurts and we certainly want to avoid.
Conclusion: Stack your rib cage over your hips. A good cue I like to use is thinking about squeezing down your lower rib to the top of your hip bone at the base of your tummy.