Pelvic tilting is a way of controlling the arch in your lower back and is the foundation of most exercises. If you pelvic tilt during any exercise you will find 9/10 times it helps to alleviate the feeling of tension and pain in the small of your back. This post will teach you how to pelvic tilt, when to pelvic tilt and why it is healthy for your spine during pregnancy.
Not to mention… It can also help limit the risk of joining the incontinence club after giving birth.
Think back to the last time you changed the bed sheets, cleaned the bath or tried to get comfy lying on your back. Do you remember having a deep aching tension across your lower back? That happens when all the little facet joints in your back are getting over stretched or squashed together too hard causing your lower back muscles to begin to spasm up to protect these little joints. To find out more about how your facet joints (aka zygoapaphysial) move, check out the video created by Medilaw.tv linked here. Pelvic tilting basically helps to share the work load of your lower back muscles with other muscles that make up your core: your pelvic floor muscles, your abs, your buttock muscles and many more.
With that said. Here’s how to do it….
Start by lying on your back on the floor or on your bed. Place your feet hip width apart and pointing straight forwards. Make sure your knees are also hip width apart, so you can draw a straight line down both sides of your body connecting hip, knee and second toe.
There are 3 muscle groups involved in this exercise and they need to be activated in the following sequence:
1. Pelvic floor (as if you are stopping yourself going for a wee)
2. Abdominal muscles (the ones that tense up when you cough or laugh or attempt to sit up from lying down)
3. Buttock muscles (the ones you squeeze tightly when you are in public and really need to pass wind in a public place)
Action: First pull up your pelvic floor muscles, then begin to tense and pull up your tummy muscles as if you are pulling your pelvis upwards toward your shoulders (not shoulders to pelvis, keep your head and shoulders flat on the floor. No cheating!). Lastly clench your buttock muscles. With each step you should feel your lower back pushing into the floor more firmly. By the end of the movement you should have no space between the small of your back and the floor.
Hold here for 3 slow seconds (1 elephant… 2 elephant… etc.) and then slowly relax. This is one repetition.
Repeat: A total of 3 lots of 8 - 10 repetitions, remembering to hold each repetition for 3 seconds.
And the when…
All the time! Initially take a few minutes to do as in the pictures in the morning and evening while laying in bed. This is a good way to master the technique. But this is not an exercise that is only confined to 5 minutes of each day, this is an action you should aim to do throughout the day. When you make the bed, when your washing the dishes, brushing your teeth, sat at a traffic light, changing your little one. See how many different day to day activities you can incorporate pelvic tilting into.
- Standing with hands on hips with your knees slightly bent.
- On all fours
So you now know that pelvic tilting helps to prevent you over-using the little facet joints in your lower back which can occur easily throughout the latter stages of pregnancy causing lower back pain. But it gets better...
When done properly, pelvic tilting activates all those super muscles within our pelvic cavity that make up your pelvic floor. If you can maintain control of these muscles before and during pregnancy, regaining strength after giving birth will be more of a doddle. That means limiting the risk of wetting yourself with a laughing fit, or while exercising; yes incontinence!
Incontinence is something 3.5 million* women in the UK suffer from but no one likes to talk about. Birth is a known risk factor for developing this, both natural and C-section births. Long story short, pelvic floor exercises help to reduce the risk of developing this post birth. Starting these after you give birth is OK, but not optimal. If you are reading this you likely want to optimise your pregnancy and birthing experience as much as you can. So the secret is to get pelvic tilting straight away ladies, way before your big day and help yourself to…
1. Reduce the risk of developing incontinence
2. Stabilise your pelvis, thus lowering your risk of low back pain
3. Exercise without hurting your lower back during and after pregnancy
* Price N, Currie I; Urinary incontinence in women: diagnosis and management. Practitioner. 2010 Mar;254(1727):27-32, 2-3.