Runners often assume that tight hips, hamstrings or calves are unavoidable. However, as I explored in last week’s article, exaggerated pelvic tilt in athletes lead to tight muscles and related injuries.
Here are a few exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine to help correct an anterior pelvic tilt and the nagging symptoms that follow.
What it is: The pelvic clock is about learning to slow down and bring the focus inside. Smaller movements like these provide a foundation for understanding how to position the pelvis and engage the abs effectively.
How to do it: Lie down on your back with your feet on the floor and knees towards the ceiling. Imagine there is a clock lying flat on your lower abdomen. Twelve o’clock is at your belly button, and six o’clock is at the top of your pubic bone. Engage your abs to move the pelvis only an inch or so in each direction. The goal is to isolate the movement of the pelvis so that the upper body stays still and relaxed, and the hip sockets allow the pelvis to move.
What it is: This classic yoga pose stretches the hips, quads, groin and shoulders. Daily practice of pigeon pose will help you build even greater flexibility, which will combat an anterior pelvic tilt.
How to do it: Begin in a downward dog and bring your left knee forward to the floor just behind your left hand. Outwardly rotate your left thigh so that your left foot is in front of your right knee, shin on a 45-degree angle on the floor. Extend your right leg with your shin, knee and thigh on the floor. Draw your inner thighs towards each other, slightly lifting your pelvis higher. Find the midpoint where weight is equal between your left and right sides and your pelvis is square to the front of your mat. Take three to five deep breaths before switching to the other leg. Be careful not to overstretch in this pose.
Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
What it is: This exercise will help relax the hip flexors, increase your hip flexibility and help you to find a neutral pelvis. While in this stretch, you should feel no tension at the front of your thigh.
How to do it: First step your left leg out in front of you and lunge until your right knee is resting on the ground. Be sure to place a towel or under your knee kneeling on the ground is uncomfortable. Your left leg should make a 90-degree angle at your knee. Then bring your pelvis forward in a scooping motion (similar to the pelvic clocks) by tightening your glute and abdominal muscles. Lean forward from your right leg until you feel the tension in the hip flexor and inner thigh of your right leg. Hold for twenty seconds and repeat five times before switching legs.
What it is: A basic bridge isolates and strengthens your glute muscles and hamstrings. When done correctly, the move can also enhance core stability by targeting your abdominal muscles and the muscles of the lower back and hip.
How to do it: Lie on your back with bent knees so the soles of your feet are pressing into the floor. Keep your feet hip-width apart. Walk your feet in towards your hips so that you can touch your heels with your fingers. Root your hands, forearms, and shoulders into the floor and keep your knees over your feet. Lift your hips towards the ceiling, keeping your head and neck relaxed. Gently lower to the ground while slowly rolling the spine down. Repeat ten times.
What it is: The toe tap targets deep abdominal muscles that are often overpowered by larger muscle groups such as quads and the upper abdominal muscles. Strengthening these lower ab muscles will help to keep a neutral pelvis while running and in day to day life.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your arms alongside your hips. Lift your legs and bend your knees, so they are right over your hips, and your shins are parallel to the floor. Exhale deeply to contract your belly and pull your navel to your spine. Slowly lower your right foot and leg to “tap” the floor. Keep the 90-degree bend in the knee as you lower. Return the right leg to the start and repeat with the left leg.