Posterior Tilt of the Pelvis

Posterior pelvic tilt is a movement in which the front of the pelvis rises and the back of the pelvis drops, while the pelvis rotates upwards.

Whether you're exercising or just standing around, the chronic position of your pelvis matters a great deal to your spinal alignment and your low-back health. 

Young female athlete exercising in a health club.
 BraunS / Getty Images

Spinal Alignment of Your Pelvis, Ribs, and Head

The pelvis, ribs, and head can be understood as structural units, or building blocks, of good spinal alignment. Aligning them properly is often the first step in attaining strain-free upright posture, as well as addressing common problems such as flat low back and swayback.

But what happens when the pelvis does not line up properly with the rib cage and other structural building blocks? 

A number of less-than-perfect pelvic positions exist that may negatively affect your posture and pain levels. Many of these stem from excessive forward or backward tilt of the pelvis.

Both types of tilts tend to result from a combination of your day-to-day habits and your biomechanics.

When your pelvis is tilted too far forward, this is called anterior pelvic tilt. Anterior pelvic tilt may lead to an accentuated low-back curve and tight back muscles.

Posterior tilt is the opposite of anterior tilt.

Posterior Pelvic Tilt: A Matter of Mechanics

When you talk about the biomechanics of a posterior pelvic tilt, to a great extent, it will likely revolve around two things. The first is the orientation of the pelvis relative to the plumb line. The plumb line is an imaginary vertical line that goes through the center of your body, around which, when you're in good alignment, all other parts are balanced relative to each other.

The second aspect of posterior pelvic tilt biomechanics revolves around the degree of tension in your hamstring muscles.

In case you’re wondering, the word biomechanics refers to how living beings are structured as well as how they move mechanically. Think Isaac Newton.

Posterior Tilt Hip Biomechanics

In a posterior tilt, the upper part of the pelvis is positioned behind the imaginary vertical plumb line, or, at least, as can be the case during exercise, is moving in that direction. As the upper part of the pelvis is pulled backward, the bottom part of the pelvis is pulled forward. 

Because the spine is connected to the pelvis, the motion of the pelvis will affect the motion of the spine. It might also flatten the natural lumbar arch, although this has been disputed in some research.

As the lumbar arch is necessary for our ability to balance and to move, when we stay too long in a posterior tilt, we may be setting ourselves up for an injury. Examples include a herniated disc and muscle imbalances that may cause pain or flat low-back posture.

Your Daily Habits

Posterior pelvic tilt, like an anterior tilt, can be a chronic condition. When it is, it may be due to your daily posture and movement habits. For example, do you tend to slouch when you're sitting? Habits such as slouching not only affect the position of the bones that make up the lower back, but they may result in long-term tension and/or weakness in the muscles in that area. This may make getting your pelvis back into balance challenging unless you have an exercise program for that purpose (and you do the exercises regularly.)

Posterior Tilt Exercise Programs

Even if you only need to prevent a posterior pelvic tilt from occurring, exercise is one of the best risk-management strategies around. This is especially true if you do core and hip work. Frequent and varied movement in these muscles trains them to meet the challenge of taking the pelvis in all possible directions. As long as you work without pain, this is likely a good thing for your back.

As mentioned above, another cause of a chronic posterior tilt position is too much hamstring tension. Hamstrings are the muscles at the back of your thigh. At the top, they cross over the hip joint, and one of their jobs is to extend your hip. Another is to drop your pelvis down. When they get too tight, of course, they can drop it down too much, which may result in a chronic posterior tilt position.

The good news is there's an easy way to reverse a chronic posterior pelvic tilt due to tight hamstrings, and that is to stretch them! To that end, here are 7 hamstring stretches you might try.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. The Personal Trainer Development Center. What is anterior pelvic tilt (and how to fix it).

  2. National Academy of Sports Medicine. The problem with the hamstring problem.

  3. Dakin G, Turner RJ, Cherak SJ. Principal component analysis of the relationship between pelvic inclination and lumbar lordosis. Scoliosis Spinal Disord. 2019;14:1. doi:10.1186/s13013-019-0175-5

  4. Yu JS, An DH. Differences in lumbar and pelvic angles and gluteal pressure in different sitting postures. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27(5):1333-5. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.1333

  5. International Sports Sciences Association. Pelvic tilt: What is it and how do you correct it?

By Anne Asher, CPT
Anne Asher, ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, and orthopedic exercise specialist, is a back and neck pain expert.