Fixing A Laterally Tilted Pelvis


Do you feel occasional knee pain?  Does squatting hurt one leg and not the other?  Does one side of your back constantly remain tight?  Do your hips tilt like the lantern pictured above?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then you might have a laterally tilted pelvis.  Most lifters and fitness enthusiasts are unaware of the fact that how they sit and stand has a tremendous carryover to how they train. 

The human body is made up of an elusive soft tissue called fascia that is underneath our fat tissue as well as both above and within the muscles.  Fascia is the key to our structural support.  Years of bodybuilding style isolationist training has misguided us into thinking that the human body is a bunch of separate parts.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Although the human body may have separate parts, it is ultimately one single organism.  Each part of the body is interconnected with the other.  When one part of the body gets tight, or shortened, it sends a cascading effect throughout the rest of the body. 

A laterally tilted pelvis also can contribute to this total body dysfunction. 


What Is A Laterally Tilted Pelvis?

If we look at the human body as a skeleton, we will notice that the pelvis really is the keystone of the human body.  The pelvis sets the correct length of the legs and lower body and helps to transmute force upward to the shoulders. 

In order for this structure to work properly, it has to remain in balance.  We call this balanced position neutral.  The balance and stability of the pelvis has to do with all of the muscles that surround it.  The reason for this is that our walking and running mechanics depend on it.  In fact, it’s what even allows us to walk on two feet. 

When imbalances occur in the muscles surrounding the pelvis, the spine and legs get thrown into dysfunction.  A laterally tilted pelvis is one of those dysfunctions. 

A laterally tilted pelvis is when one side of the pelvis rises up higher than the other.  In reference to Thomas Myers Anatomy Trains model, this is when the lateral line of the body develops imbalances. 


How Does This Problem Happen?

As I mentioned earlier, the pelvis develops muscle imbalances along the lateral line.  This is not the main cause behind it, however.  This problem occurs due to poor standing posture and sitting mechanics. 

This author knows from personal experience.  When I was in college, I had to drive in long commutes both to and from school (~2 hrs).  My carseats were small and very narrow and this forced me to sit in a scrunched up position.  This scrunched up position caused one side of my hips to be up higher than the other. 

When I finally left school and began training full time in my athletic endeavors, I noticed that my left knee would be in severe pain whenever I would squat a certain amount of weight.  This problem confused the hell out of me because I was as mobile and flexible as you could be, but I still had so much trouble with the squat.  I of course later found out that I had a laterally tilted pelvis. 

A laterally tilted pelvis will force one knee to take on more weight than the other during squats.  This can cause serous damage to that knee.  The body is doing this to try and protect the lower back.  Unfortunately the lower back also takes a beating as the quadratus lumborum has to work overtime in order to try and stabilize the pelvis.  This is why people with a laterally tilted pelvis feel tightness in their lower back on one side of their body. 

Standing in a “cocked” hip stance also causes a laterally tilted pelvis.  This is usually a default standing position for most people who are standing for long periods of time.   

If clothing covers up your hips then look down at your feet.  Are the both pointing straight ahead?  Or are they pointing out in any way?  With a laterally tilted pelvis, we usually see one foot pointing straight ahead and one foot turned out to the side. 

Now that we know how this problem happens its time to discuss how to fix it. 


Fixing A Laterally Tilted Pelvis

Okay, like most problems, it’s really not as bad as it may seem.  Let’s put the problem into perspective:

  • The pelvis is tilted to one side
  • The lateral line of the body has shortness in one of its areas
  • The abductors are tight on the shorter side
  • The adductors are tight on the longer side

Now that I have reduced the problem to four bullet points, we can start to tackle each area one at a time. 

I always prefer to work on the shorter side first.  So if the abductors are tight, we need to do some soft tissue work on the posterior hip and outer hip on the shorter side.  For this you can use a lacrosse ball, or yoga tune up ball.  Roll the hell out of your glutes and loosen them up good.  Now roll out the gluteus medius and the tensor fascia latte.  Once the soft tissue work is done you can now stretch out the glutes.  Use any stretch you prefer, but just make sure that it challenges you in some way. 

Now on the high side we are going to roll out the adductors and then stretch them.  This will bring the pelvis back to normal in the short term.  In order to fix it in the long term you are going to have to strengthen the adductors on the short side and the abductors on the high side.  This should provide sufficient alignment of the pelvis in the lateral frame.  Don’t forget to pay close attention to how you sit or stand.  After all this is what got you into this problem in the first place.           

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