For nearly two decades, I've espoused the benefits of pelvic awareness as part of a comprehensive abdominal strengthening program.
Pelvic awareness is exactly what it sounds like — understanding the position of one's pelvis in various postures and throughout a given movement.
Pelvic awareness is an element of abdominal training that simply cannot be compromised. Failing to be aware of your pelvic position crumbles the effectiveness of basically any movement designed to challenge the abdominal group.
There are essentially five pelvic positions. These are anterior tilt, posterior tilt, side tilt to the right, side tilt to the left, and neutral.
A neutral pelvic position is when both hips are aligned with each other and exactly down the midline of your body from back to front. So, they are perfectly parallel from the side and the front. This is the ideal position for the pelvis throughout the day, as you do regular activities that aren't particularly strenuous or considered "abdominal training."
An anterior tilt is found when the natural lower back curve (lordosis) is increased, therefore pressing the back of the pelvis up and the front of the pelvis down. This is a position we often recommend at the beginning stages of a squat, as an anterior tilt helps to protect the lumbar vertebrae.
A posterior tilt is exactly the opposite. It's identified by a lowering of the back of the pelvis and raising of the front. To achieve a good posterior tilt, the abdominals must be engaged. This is the key position for most abdominal exercises as it reduces pressure on the lower back during floor exercises by ensuring that the abdominals are engaged and performing their job to the fullest extent.
The right and left side tilts are not used in many exercises, but understanding these movements can help one visualize pelvic awareness in various positions. The right tilt features a higher right hip, and the left tile features a higher left hip.
Understanding where the pelvis is in relation to the "neutral" position is key for any abdominal exercise. This is especially true as fatigue sets in, as many people lose the posterior tilt position then. Losing it not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercise but creates the conditions in which a lower back strain is more likely.
This week's exercise requires a constant posterior pelvic tilt to perform correctly. The Tabletop Situp is great for challenging the anterior core muscles, but it also provides a perfect opportunity to check one's pelvic awareness.
1. Select a large, soft-sided medicine ball that's relatively light (10 to 15 pounds). A smaller ball will work, too, but keep it relatively light.
2. Lie on your back and place the medicine ball on the ground just above your head.
3. Lift the knees up so that your knees and hips are both at 90-degree angles, creating a flat surface with your shins and with the toes pointed at the ceiling.
4. Reach overhead and grab the medicine ball.
5. Bring the ball forward and use that momentum to perform a situp, moving the torso up until you can place the medicine ball just above your feet — balancing it on your lower legs.
6. Lower the torso while allowing the medicine ball to stay balanced on your shins and then do another situp.
7. This time, grab the ball and lower back down with it in your arms.
8. Continue performing situps while allowing the medicine ball to remain on your legs every other repetition until you've completed 15 reps — or as many as you can while maintaining that posterior tilt.
The key to this exercise is really maintaining that posterior tilt the entire time, even as you're lifting the ball from the floor. This will be difficult.
If it becomes impossible to maintain the tilt, lose the medicine ball and perform the exercise without additional resistance. Enjoy!
Matt Parrott has a doctorate in education (sport studies) and a master's in kinesiology and is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine.
Style on 10/21/2019
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