How should you sleep if you have an anterior pelvic tilt? If you sleep in the wrong position, will it make your tilt worse? If you sleep in a good position, will it make it better?
If you have an anterior pelvic tilt we have some great information for you, including how to sleep to improve your alignment, and a video to help you understand the best position for your pelvis at night.
An anterior tilt is when the front of your pelvis is tipped towards the floor. It's not a terrible orthopedic condition. It just means certain muscles are positioning your pelvis so that the front end is lower than ideal.
However, this position creates an arch in your lower back that is not ideal bio-mechanically. This pronounced curve in your low back is known as hyperlordosis.
Hyperlordosis, isn't a disease or critical condition. It just means your lower spine is more curved than is ideal for your vertebrae and hip muscles.
A neutral pelvis refers to the position in which your hips points and your pubic bone create a triangle that is perpendicular to the floor. This alignment ensures that there is the least amount of stress placed upon the structures of your lumber spine (lower back). This position allows you to control the spine and pelvis position so you don't get compression in the low back and movement issues in the hip joints.
However, people's pelvic bones are shaped differently. In fact, your own pelvis is almost guaranteed to be asymmetrical when you compare the two sides. This makes it difficult to give specific measurements that work for every individual. At Upright Health, we operate from the idea that you should be able to stabilize your pelvis in whatever position you need.
If you're already in an anterior pelvic tilt, you want to engage your abs, hamstrings, and glutes to align your pelvis in a more neutral position - AND KEEP IT THERE without feeling like you're using all your mental and physical energy to do so.
Pelvic tilt is all about muscle engagement and length. Muscles respond to whatever you train them to do. If you constantly put your pelvis into an anterior tilt, your muscles get good at functioning in that posture. Your muscles then struggle at getting you OUT of that anterior tilt posture.
If you sleep with your pelvis in an anterior tilt, then your muscles are going to spend the entire night holding an anterior tilt. Why do that to yourself when you can make some simple changes to improve your anterior tilt while you sleep?
If you spend eight hours sleeping, that's eight hours of anterior pelvic tilt training. That's why it's important to learn how to sleep with the position of the spine and pelvis that you want.
If you can put your pelvis in a neutral position overnight, it will help your muscles learn to maintain that position throughout the day (though it will not permanently fix all your anterior pelvic tilt problems).
Watch this quick video for a demonstration of proper sleeping position for back and stomach sleepers who have anterior pelvic tilt.
If you want to improve your anterior tilt while you sleep, you need to focus on putting your pelvis into a more neutral position. If you tend to sleep on your back, the simplest trick is to put a pillow or blanket under your knees. This puts your anteriorly tilted pelvis back into a neutral position, lengthening and releasing the muscles of the lower back.
If you tend to sleep on your stomach, you can put that pillow or blanket under your hips to reduce the curvature of your low back. Finally, if you tend to sleep on your side, just pay attention to how you've positioned yourself. Most side sleepers will tend to go to the fetal position with the knees tucked up toward the chest, and that's perfect. That actually puts the pelvis and the lumbar spine into a more posterior/neutral position as well.
You don't want to put yourself in a position where you obviously make the anterior tilt WORSE. For example, if you sleep on your stomach and your stomach sinks into the bed, tipping your low back into lordosis - you are encouraging an anterior tilt. Find neutral pelvis positions and get your body used to staying there.
In short: stomach sleeping - especially on a soft bed - will make your anterior tilt WORSE.
Your ultimate goal should not be to lie in a strictly controlled position all night. Using these anterior tilt sleeping positions teaches your body to find neutral more easily. Sleeping in these positions will not permanently correct your anterior tilt.
To correct anterior tilt, you need to train your muscles to maintain a neutral pelvis position over time. This can require stretching and strengthening, and it can also entail learning how to consciously control your pelvis position.
Anterior pelvic tilt exercises are helpful, but they also need to be paired with lifestyle modifications like these to help you improve your anterior tilt tendencies throughout the day (and night)!