Flat Back & Posture
A flat back is known as posterior pelvic tilt. This is a postural deficiency that causes poor posture and improper alignment of the pelvic that could lead to problems. Corrective exercises that extend the lower back backward and strengthen the hip flexors improve the condition of a flat back. Also, stretches for the muscles of the hamstrings and glutes that pull the pelvis backward help your pelvis move forward into its optimal position.
Problems With a Flat Back
Although a flat back is not as common as excessive arching of the back called swayback, it is still a common postural deficiency. A flat back is contrary to how the pelvis naturally aligns. Your pelvis ideally is in what is called neutral position. This is where the lower back curves naturally without being pulled flat or into extension by tight muscles. To stand with correct posture, the back is neutral with the top and rear portions of the pelvis at the same height. When the pelvis is not in neutral position, there is uneven wear and tear on the joints around your pelvis.
The abdominal stretch lengthens the torso through into a back bend. This exercise gently extends the spine backward and causes you to put your flat back into an arch. The opposite of a posterior pelvic tilt is an anterior pelvic tilt, in which your pelvis tips forward and the back arches. To perform the abdominal stretch, lie over the top of a stability ball with your feet on the floor. The ball provides a curve for your spine to drape over. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
Tight hamstring muscles are shorter than they should be. This decrease in length pulls the pelvis into a posterior tilt. Stretching the hamstrings allows the muscles to return to their normal length as tension releases. To perform a seated hamstring stretch, sit on the edge of the chair and place one leg straight in front of you. Flex your foot and hinge forward from the hips until you feel the back of the thigh stretching. Hold for 30 seconds and switch legs.
Hip flexion is a strengthening exercise for the hip flexor muscles. These are the muscles that bend the hips forward. A weight machine with the same name provides resistance for this exercise to strengthen the hips. To perform this exercise, stand on the platform with your left leg against the padded roller and your left hip against the machine. Then, bend your left knee and raise it and the roller up to waist level. Reverse the motion to complete hip flexion. Repeat on the other side.
- SportsInjuryClinic.net: Abdominal Stretch
- ExRx.net: Lever Hip Flexion
- The Personal Trainer Development Center. What is anterior pelvic tilt (and how to fix it).
- National Academy of Sports Medicine. The problem with the hamstring problem. Updated December 18, 2018.
- Dakin G, Turner RJ, Cherak SJ. Principal component analysis of the relationship between pelvic inclination and lumbar lordosis. Scoliosis Spinal Disord. 2019;14:1. doi:10.1186/s13013-019-0175-5
- Yu JS, An DH. Differences in lumbar and pelvic angles and gluteal pressure in different sitting postures. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015;27(5):1333-5. doi:10.1589/jpts.27.1333
- International Sports Sciences Association. Pelvic tilt: What is it and how do you correct it?
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.