A few years ago my pelvis had a noticeable posterior tilt, which in turn gave me a dull ache in my lumbar spine. Whilst training to be a Pilates I discovered that I could correct this tilt, therefore ending my very uncomfortable ache. So have a go at identifying and correcting your pelvic tilt and you could very well end your lower back pain forever. The constant stress added to your lower back joints, lumbar discs, and lower back and pelvic muscles can often be traced to a tilted pelvis or low hip.
What Is The Pelvis?
Well the pelvis is made up of two large bones, a right and left ilium (hip bones). These two bones are connected in the front by a small joint called the symphysis pubis.
In the back, between each ilium is your sacrum. The right and left side the sacrum joins the corresponding ilium by a large joint called your sacroiliac joint.
At the very end of the sacrum are small bones called the coccyx, also known as your tailbone.
Each ilium, on its outer side has a socket that the ball of your femur (thigh bone) head fits into. This ball and socket joint constitutes your hip.
We often, mistakenly, refer to the top of our pelvis as our hips. But in reality our hips are just medial to the widest part of our pelvis.
Sitting directly on top of your sacrum, in the mid-line of our body, is our fifth lumbar vertebra or L5 as it's more commonly known as.
Between this vertebrae and the top of the sacrum lies your lumbo-sacral disc. This disc consists of many tough strong fibres along the outside and a jelly-like substance in the centre, known as the substance gelatinous. It is this disc that helps anchor the fifth lumbar and the sacrum together.
Stacked above the fifth lumbar are the four remaining lumbar vertebrae, each anchored to the next by its corresponding disc.
So enough of the biology lesson and on to the tilted Pelvis part...
Ideally, the pelvis should be balanced with no abnormal anterior (forward), posterior (backward) or side tilting.
If a horizontal line is drawn at the top of the pelvis it should be parallel with the floor. If the line is not horizontal and parallel then a pelvic tilt exists with one side being lower than the other.
This tilting will result in abnormal sacroiliac joint alignment, lumbar misalignment, muscular imbalances, abnormal posture and of course subsequent wear and tear, degeneration, and subsequently lower back pain.
The final diagnosis for the cause of your pain may be degenerative disc disease or its related diagnosis of lumbar disc herniation. When in fact the actual cause of your lower back pain condition is a tilted pelvis. The disc degeneration or lumbar disc bulge may actually be the result of a pelvic tilt.
Want to know the causes of a Pelvic Tilt?
The primary causes of pelvic tilt are any of the following or a combination of two or more of these short leg, flat feet, pronation, muscular imbalance.
So for as long as these conditions or contributing factors are left and not corrected you cannot expect much long term improvement or an relief of your lower back pain.
You may experience some relief with pills, muscle relaxers, chiropractic adjustments, or even massage but longer term relief will be as elusive as next weeks winning lottery numbers, until you have addressed these factors and corrected them to their fullest extent possible.
Is having a Pelvic tilt bad?
Too put it bluntly...Yes it's bad. When your pelvis tilts to one side it creates joint misalignments throughout your spine. These joints can no longer function in the proper planes of motion that they were designed to do. This now creates abnormal joint stresses resulting in wear and tear, joint capsule disruption, and eventually pain. If allowed to go uncorrected the outcome is chronic lower back pain, disc degeneration, disc herniation or disc bulge, sacroiliac joint pain, muscle strain, pain in hip, as well as other conditions that may cause spinal pain.
Along with the abnormal stresses to the joints, the lumbar muscles are also unable to work in their proper manner as one side will be elongated and the corresponding opposite muscles become shortened. This will create recurrent muscle strain, chronic spasm, trigger points, contribute to improper lumbar spine function, and-you guessed it-more lower back pain.
How To Correct Pelvic Tilt...
If left uncorrected, tilted pelvis will continue to be a major contributing or causing factor in your lower back pain.
So here is what must be done:
Firstly, identify what is causing the pelvic tilt, take a look at yourself in the mirror from the side and see if your bottom pokes out or indeed like mine wants to tuck under. Then turn to the front and look at your ilium bones, are they horizontal.
Listed below are some other things to look out for:
A shorter leg.
Lack of strength, poor flexibility and low muscular endurance around the hips and glutes.
Abnormal or poor posture.
Poor shoes or worn footwear.
Other possible aggravating or contributing conditions and habits like driving or standing for long periods.
Secondly engage in a regular strength, endurance and flexibility program with emphasis on your core muscles like Pilates. Find a class that recognises the importance of back care health, neutral spine and pelvis and a teacher who works with you to treat and correct these important issues, and also coaches you to overall health improvement.
These simple steps and corrective measures could save you from lower back surgery,
One Final Important Recommendation
Make life a moving experience, in other words keep moving even when your back hurts.
Nature strives for motion and your health and well-being are dependent on it. Sitting creates destructive forces and should be discouraged as much as possible.