Perfecting the Proper Pelvic Tuck

In (re)ad all about it

By Boston Body Pilates

The Barre workout is one of the best ways to tone your abdominals, thighs and glutes.  If you’ve taken a barre class, you’ve likely heard the term “Pelvic Tuck” in both standing and floor work many times.  So what exactly is the “Pelvic Tuck”?

When done properly, a Pelvic Tuck lengthens your spine – engaging a balance of abdominal, core and gluteal muscles.  When Lotte Burke first created the Barre workout, she included the Pelvic Tuck as a staple position in many of her effective barre exercises.  The Pelvic Tuck allows one to engage muscles while keeping the low back and hip area released and safe.

To understand how to properly achieve the correct Pelvic Tuck, we first have to understand the three Pelvic positions during standing barre work.

  • NeutralNeutral brings your pelvis into a balanced position in which there appears to be a vertical line with pubic bone directly under the hip bones.  In a neutral spine your back should feel completely       released, but your abs and pelvic floor are still engaged.
  • Anterior tiltThe anterior tilt looks like an arched back (concave near the small of your back), where your hip bones are slightly in front of your pubic bone.  An excessive anterior tilt will feel like you are       over-arching your lumber spine, which can create discomfort in your low back and can lead to tight hip flexors.  Those who have more of a natural anterior tilt tend to have lordosis, an over curvature of the lumbar spine, or low back.
  • Posterior tiltA posterior tilt is the opposite position in which your pubic bone is tilted in front of your hip bones giving you a feeling of your bottom being tucked under.  An excessive posterior tilt will feel as if you are tucking your bottom under so much so that you feel a strain in your low back extensors, and you will likely need to clench your glutes and hamstrings to help maintain this position. This can also lead to overly tight hip flexors.  Those who have more of a natural posterior tilt tend to have kyphosis, an over curvature of the thoracic spine, or upper back.

The Pelvic Tuck “Do’s”

  • Less is more:  This is a tiny movement that is barely visible.
  • Find your neutral first.  Stand in front of a mirror sideways.  Rock your weight forward towards the balls of your feet and stand tall.  Your hip bones will be directly above your pubic bone creating a vertical line. Your effective Pelvic Tuck position is not too far from your neutral.
  • Movement comes from muscle activation, a balance of abdominal, inner core and gluteal activation.  From your neutral position.  Exhale and pull abs in and up while lifting through the pelvic floor.  Feel a very slight tipping up of the pubic bone with lower abdominal engagement.
  • Released and comfortable position of the lower back, hips and pelvis.  Keep abdominals and pelvic floor engaged and release any tension in low back, hips and pelvis.  Stop if you feel back tension.
  • Lengthen your spine, reaching your tail bone away from the crown of your head. Think about your feet pressing firmly through the floor as you reach the crown of your head to the sky.  This “opposition” helps you feel the muscle activation in the front and back of your body that is an essential foundation of the Pelvic Tuck.
  • Engage pelvic floor, low abs, and inner core muscles in the front of your body.  Think “abs in and up.”  Hug sits bones in your lower glutes. Balancing the muscles in front and back of your body creates a safe and effective pelvic tuck.

The Pelvic “Don’ts”

  • Please- no clenching!  Activate gluteal muscles firmly without squeezing.
  • Don’t over tuck your Pelvis.  This creates tight hip flexors and can damage your low back.
  • Bottom line:  If it’s hurting your lower back or hips, recheck your position.

Focus on your “Dos” and you’ll be well along the path to get the most out of your barre workout.

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