Beginners Core: How to do Pelvic Tilts.
What if reducing back pain, increasing core awareness, and strength. Reducing hip pain and aiding the natural curves in your spine “were” easy to do?
It has been brought to my attention on more than one occasion that we as a society often overlook the power of simplicity. Is it that we are lead to believe that if something isn’t complicated? Or expensive or taught at a fancy center that it cannot truly be helpful?
I occasionally have students mention that they are off to PT for this or that. Only to find that what they are being told to do are the very things they are learning in my classes. And the therapists are amazed at their sense of awareness and ability. Now, this is not to toot my own horn. But rather push my point that sometimes we don’t realize the power of something until we step away from it.
And the same goes for simple movements.
Have back pain? Who doesn’t?
Struggling with your, ahem, pelvic floor? You’re not alone.
What if there was something you could be doing right now to help those areas improve?
Would you be O.K. with the notion that the approach was simple, elementary, small and lacks a fancy name and does not end in a complicated arm balance? Would that be O.K.?
Sometimes to truly take a step forward, we do in-fact have to take a step back, and that is where pelvic tilts come in.
Not in the sense that we are losing ground or less than, but rather that we are in deep need to create a deeper sense of awareness and understanding of our body and how it moves.
Pelvic tilts truly are one of my most favorite moves, and I often think of it as a secret weapon! This small movement packs a powerful punch! That it simultaneously free your lower back release your hip flexors. In addition, pelvic tilts improve core function and awareness and ungulates your entire spine.
I know what you are thinking now, “where can you sign me up” for learning how to do pelvic tilts??
Except as a yoga and movement teacher for over fifteen years now I have learned that one: I was practicing pelvic tilting all wrong. And two: I see many following in my similar footsteps.
Let’s fix that!
There are tons of benefits to pelvic tilting and it SHOULD be an exercise that everyone does regularly. Because you can do it in just about any plane of motion and position.
If you need a list of reasons WHY pelvic tilts are not just good for you, but necessary!
What are the benefits of Pelvic Tilts?
- * Pelvic tilts create a sense of awareness of the pelvic floor muscles
- *Pelvic tilts release sacral (SI joint) pain
- *Pelvic tilts release the femur, tailbone, sacrum connection for more mobility and motility
- *Pelvic tilts help one access and tone the lower abdomen muscles
- *Pelvic tilts release lower back
- *Pelvic tilts liberate the entire spine
- *Pelvic tilts loosen tightness hanging on the shoulders
- *Pelvic tilts release tightness of the inner hips and inner pelvic attachments
- *Pelvic tilts tone the pelvic floor and core muscles
- *Pelvic tilts activate the glutes/buttocks
- *Pelvic tilts increase awareness of the hip-spine relationship
- *Pelvic tilts assist in a deeper breathing and better lung use
- *Pelvic tilts enhance your body’s natural alignment and curvature
- *Pelvic tilts assist your lumbo-pelvic relationship to sit in neutral with less pain and restriction
- *Pelvic tilts improve posture
- *Pelvic tilts help you look taller and leaner
- *Pelvic tilts teach you how to wear your core on the inside of the body rather than the outside
- *Pelvic tilts release the lateral side body
- *Pelvic tilts stretch the abdominal walls from sitting all-day
- *Pelvic tilts release the fascial netting of the lower body and spine.
By now you are wondering how do you effectively and properly practice pelvic tilts?
How To Do Pelvic Tilts:
- Pick your position. You can practice pelvic tilting lying down, standing in a slight chair pose, sitting, or even prone. I think supine is the simplest way to practice and the floor gives you good feedback as to what you are doing for starters.
- Lying down with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, make sure your heels are not too close to your sit bones, when they are too close it inhibits the range of motion for pelvic tilting.
- Find your breath, a deep breath in through your nose and out through your nose to settle into your body.
- Keep your body relaxed for now, INHALE and work to arch your lower back away from the floor, like there was a pin poking you. Do not lift your hips off the ground. Go as far as you can comfortably and keep stretching until your inhale is complete.
- Pause for a moment.
- Now EXHALE and glide your lower back into the floor, WITHOUT squeezing your buttocks together or lifting your hips up off the floor while pelvic tilting.
- Now repeat again drawing a deeper sense of awareness to the movement, between what moves and what doesn’t.
- After a few rounds, on the exhales work to draw awareness and attention to your anal sphincter, with the exhale on the posterior tilt (when you tip back into the floor) work to contract that part of the pelvic floor. Notice what else wants to contract, more than likely trying to do the job for this part of your pelvic floor, especially if you have never used it before.
- Inhale release the anal sphincter. You will notice if you contracted when you proceed to release. Do this several rounds.
- Now mentally move forward on your pelvic floor and work to contract the vaginal passageway or for men the soft tissue behind the scrotum. For many, this will be more difficult, especially if there was trauma (like giving birth) the nerves and tissues may not be connecting back with the brain properly.
- Repeat the process of EXHALE contract and tip back, and INHALE release and tip forward. This will feel more internal. Think about contracting while in cold water, or for men like flexing an erection, women engaging during intercourse. (I see potential practice opportunities to engage your pelvic floor here).
- Now finally move even more forward on the pelvic floor and think about where your pubic bone is and work to contract the lower front belly and pelvic floor on the exhales. This will feel more like pulling inward on the belly, but this time it’s triggered by the pelvic floor not the navel. Think of the action of cutting off the flow of urine or holding when you have to go to the bathroom. Good news, those two actions ask you to use your pelvic floor muscles.
- Repeat tilting trying to engage each of these three areas, all individually, and all together. Notice what is easier and what takes more work.
A few other tips about pelvic tilts:
As you become more comfortable with the movement, especially while lying down. Consider adding in the arms to the movement. INHALE and arch the back, release the pelvic floor, AND reach your arms overhead! STRETCH. Exhale and return back to the floor and contract the pelvic floor.
By incorporating the arms in you get more of a full spinal interaction. Plus, the hip flexors and lower back get even more limelight. Notice when reaching if one arm hits the floor and the other does not. This can easily become a tool for not only teaching pelvic floor activation and releasing the lower back. Which can also assist spinal and fascial assessment as well.