Neutral Hips and Pelvic Tilt

So what is Pelvic Tilt?

The term ‘Pelvic Tilt’ is all about your butt really. Do you stick your butt out or do you tuck it in? Ideally you don’t want to do either if you want to be a runner. I am not going to comment on why you would like to have a tilt as anatomically it is not ideal but aesthetically you may choose to tilt.

To push your butt out or to stick it backwards is an Anterior Pelvic Tilt. To tuck your butt under – common in the way we sit/slouch in a chair – is a Posterior Pelvic Tilt. We can tilt because if we couldn’t it would be impossible to bend over or reach up, but it isn’t a strong position for our body to be in.



Picture credit:

Why do I care?

As technology improves we are living longer and longer. At the moment though, we can’t maintain a head in a jar and so we need to take care of our body and the biggest issue people tend to have as they get older is a bad back. The lowest point of the back connects with our pelvis and so if our pelvic tilt sucks, it puts pressure on our lower back – aka the foundation structure of our spine – and then the whole spine sucks too.

How do I know where my pelvis sits?

Look at yourself side on in a mirrior or better yet, get someone to take a photo of you side on in your most comfortable standing position – not what you think is right but how you would normally stand. If your lower back has a big curve and you have some booty going on then it is possible you have an anterior tilt. If you have a flat lower back then it is possible you have a posterior tilt. You can also then look down at your feet front on in a mirror or by a photo. An anterior tilt causes legs to rotate inward, a posterior tilt rotates legs outward. An anterior tilt goes with a butt sticking out and a belly falling forward. Posterior has belly pulled in and tail tucked under.

Another way to identify a posterior tilt is to sit on the ground with your legs straight and your back against a wall. To get your legs straight and back against the wall, if you need to tuck your tail under, you have a posterior tilt.

A neutral pelvis will have a gentle curve in the lower back.

What is a bad tilt?

As a runner, both posterior and anterior tilts are detrimental to your body and run performance.

Anterior Tilt

Let me introduce you to a term that at the very least will change your thinking on an Anterior Tilt….KKB also known as “Kim Kardashian Butt”….now, this is something that may be a life goal for you and if so then honey, go for that butt! Just don’t be a runner.

Anterior tilt is common in people who have tight hip flexors. This causes the front of your hips to be stuck pulling down or shortening the hip flexors which is a powerhouse of strong running and the result is KKB, lower back pain from impinged discs which in turn may result in sciatica, knee pain from strained ITBs, stretched hammies (which then are useless in power generation assistance for running) and then following down the leg may include calf tears, achillies pain/strain and most of all…..plantar fasciitis.

Tight hip flexors are also common in people who wear high heels as they throw the balance forward which requires the hips to accommodate the leg position and throw the butt back to maintain balance in the body.

Posterior Tilt

Look at how a monkey/ape/gorilla sits on the ground with their butt tucked under. When they stand, it is difficult for them to straighten their spine into a neutral position. It is the same position many of us adopt in an arm chair or if we are slumping while watching TV or sitting at a computer desk for a long time.

In a posterior tilt your hip flexors are weak, hammies are too strong, abs are too strong

How do I change it?

Both Anterior and Posterior tilts can take many many months to rectify but each day you are consciously working on it is one day closer to a strong neutral pelvic position or strong foundation to your spine. The best first step is to see an Exercise Physiologist (EP – or a Physiotherapist if you can’t get to an EP) and have a postural assessment. The EP will work with you on your whole posture and correcting it by stretching and strengthening muscle groups and joints.

For Anterior tilts – if you are sure you have this and know what you are doing, stretching the hip flexors and strengthening hamstrings are a great place to start*.

For Posterior tilts – if you are sure you have this and know what you are doing, stretching the hamstrings, glutes and abs and strengthening hip flexors are a great place to start*.

*Please be smart and seek advice from an allied health professional on this. Many PTs are great with prescribed exercise but not necessarily good at assessing to make an accurate prescription for your whole musculoskeletal structure and given we are talking about your spine being impacted, you really want to get this right. My recommendation is to find an Exercise Physiologist – this is their core business.

Running Cadence

What is it?

Your cadence is the beat of your feet when you run or in other words the rhythm of your running. You can either count it as how many times one foot strikes the ground over one minute or you can count both feet.

Why do I care?

Although it can take some time and feel very awkward at first to change your cadence, this is possibly the most significant way you will improve your speed, endurance, recovery period and effort level without significant change in your fitness or strength. For someone who has plateaued in their running this can be the answer – with patience over several months, I have seen marathon runners who can’t break 4hours across multiple courses drop to sub 3hours simply by adding a cadence focus to their training.

How do I measure it?pexels-photo-83948.jpeg

To measure you can count how many times your foot strikes in one minute or if you lose count easily, try easing into your stride then counting strikes for 15s and times the result by 4. Take a rest for a few minutes and repeat and/or mix it up by measuring 15s, 30s and one minute.

What is a good cadence?

Noting that everyone has a different body, the “optimum” cadence will vary slightly between runners but in general it sits around 85-90 strikes (beats) per minute for single count (i.e. 170-180bpm when counting both feet) and will also vary when on grass vs road vs trails and flat vs undulating vs hills.

Slow Vs Fast

Attribute Slow Optimum Fast
Flight time Longer Shorter Very short
Impact – Knee Heavy Lighter Lighter but more often
DOMS Increased Decreased Decreased
Stride length Longer Shorter Short
Energy usage High HR & Vo2 Lower HR & Vo2 Mod to High HR & VO2


How do I change?

There are so many different ways to tackle this including addressing body position and stride length adjustments to shoe quality and type and a whole pile of technical stuff but my personal most successful way to change is to “Rock Out!” – Your body will naturally adjust when you don’t over think it.

So from a safety point of view running with headphones is super dangerous but the good news is that you don’t have to have headphones on to enjoy your music. Have you ever been out on a run and gone past someone rocking out to beats you can hear and as they head away you find yourself adjusting to the song? You may just smile/giggle and feel better, you may pick up or slow down your pace to the beat or you may just enjoy the brief distraction but the result is the same – you feel good, breathe a bit better and then hit the wall as you try to settle back in and wish you had some beats. Embrace this simple thing. Unplug, play your music and let it help your mind relax while also making others smile. You may even end up with people sticking near enough to enjoy your music and then you make new friends!metronome-clock-music-music-production-162550.jpeg

The other way to do this is to download a metronome app and set it to the speed you want to achieve. This may be a better approach if you are a runner with the need to make a significant change i.e if you run around 70bpm or 100bpm, adjust the metronome by 2-4 beats difference every couple of weeks (yes, this does take time but it is totally worth it).

What beats to use.

There are again many ways to approach this. Once you know your cadence number you can either google the BPM of songs you like and put together a play list a couple of beats faster or slower (depending on how you need to adjust) OR you can just skip to the magic numbers and find running/RPM class tracks that are a certain beat – there are LOADS of them out there specifically designed to invoke a rhythm for your physical movement.

If you have Spotify, this is possibly the EASIEST way to find tracks. You can use spotify to detect your cadence or you can adjust it to the tempo you want and then it will provide music to that pace. This works for the free and premium versions but only on the mobile app.

Who can help me with this?

Well if you live in Canberra Australia you are in serious luck – we have a run coaching program for the ordinary person at Pure Will Running. There are sessions and times all over town, so get in touch and come get some advice. We’re all experienced runners and have collective knowledge on track, distance and trail running. Otherwise google run coaching and the name of your town – you will find someone. In Australia another great coached program with a feel good aspect is Can Too – I coach for them too and highly recommend their programs.