What position should the pelvis be in when running? It’s a question that you probably haven’t thought about much, unless you’re a runner with a performance goal or an injury.
There are many popular blogs and youtube videos on the subject that argue that the basin should be in a neutral position. I even found a popular post that says that to maintain pelvic position, the glutes should be lightly tensed while a person is running.
Before making any blanket statements about what the pelvis should and shouldn’t do while you run, it can be helpful to understand the basic anatomy of the area.
The basic anatomy of the pelvic area
Your pelvis is a bowl-shaped structure that consists of two halves. Each half of the pelvis is made up of three bones: the ilium, the ischium, and the pubic bone.
- the ilium is the wing-shaped structure on the side, the crest of which you can feel in the front – it is commonly referred to as the hip bone, although it is a pelvic bone.
- The ischium is the base of the pelvis, and the sciatic tuberosity, a part of the ischium that protrudes and serves as the attachment point for several muscles, is commonly known as sedentary bone.
- The shame is the bone at the front of your torso under your belly button. The point at which these three bones meet is the acetabulum, also known as the hip joint. The femur (thigh bone) is inserted into the acetabulum. 1 Many muscles cross the hip joint and control movement on both the femur and the pelvis.
The sacrum attaches to the pelvis at the sacroiliac joint, and the tailbone or tail bone encompasses the posterior pelvis.
Do you remember how the basin is in two halves? There are also two sacroiliac joints, one on each side because you have two ilias. The SI joint is stable and dislocations of the SI joint are extremely rare. 2
The two halves of the pelvis meet at the pubic symphysis, an interesting joint that is separated by a fibro-cartilaginous disk between the two bones. It is designed to allow low levels of translation and rotation. Since the pelvis is shaped like a closed ring, movement in the pubic hair means movement in the SI joint.
The position of the pelvis when running
The position of the pelvis is determined by a number of factors, including the position of the legs and trunk. The body’s joints do not work in isolation; They work in an integrated way.
When you run, many things happen that allow you to transfer force to your body as you move forward. The rotation occurs in the pelvis, which is offset by the rotation in the thorax (the part of the torso where the ribs are located). 3
This movement helps you keep your center of gravity above your support base as you move from leg to leg and move forward in space.
Think about it for a second. The pelvis rotates as you run, which means it has to move multidimensionally. If it stayed quiet while running, it would change the way you ran the run.
- Get into a standing position. Walk down your hallway Feel your knees naturally bend and straighten as you walk.
- Now keep your knees straight as you move forward. Does it feel different? What has changed?
- Now bend your knees a little and keep them bent When you go forward, never straighten it. How does it feel differently?
When you change the way the knee joint is integrated with movement, you change the distribution of the load on the leg. Each situation led to different stress patterns and different movements in the pelvis.
The same would happen if you tried to keep the pool still as you walked down your hallway. Your gait would change to accommodate the stiffness through the center of your body.
How much should the pelvis move when you run?
Now that you understand that the pelvis moves when you run, the next logical question is, how much should the pelvis move when you run? And what does the incline of the anterior pelvis have to do with it?
Think back to the bowl shape of the pool. When the pelvis tilts forward, this is known as anterior pelvic tilt. It turns out; The pelvis makes an interesting oscillating motion as it runs that creates a spring-like mechanism throughout the leg
It also turns out that during the walk, the pelvis naturally moves through both the anterior and posterior pelvic slopes, coordinated with the hip movement
“But wait,” you may be thinking, “I’ve learned that if I don’t have a good hip extension, I have more anterior pelvic tilt.”
Perhaps. But maybe not. Static hip extension tests (think you’re on your side with someone moving your leg to see how much it moves) don’t correlate with the ability of the pelvis and hips to coordinate efficiently while running
A more important indicator of how well the pelvis and hips can coordinate is the ability of the ribs and pelvis to work synergistically together. This ability is not related to the inclination of the anterior pelvis, but to both motor skills and basic strength.
A note on lumbar lengthening
When running, the lumbar spine moves naturally and coordinates the movement of the pelvis. As you run downhill, the movement of the lumbar spine increases, possibly to dissipate the additional ground reaction forces that occur when walking downhill. 6
In addition, there are differences in the degree of natural lumbar curvature between individuals and between the sexes. (Women tend to have a more significant lumbar curve than men, possibly to aid in the shift in center of mass that occurs during pregnancy.) 7
This curvature means that visually, when you look at someone and see their back arching, they may not have a weak core or may have problems with anterior pelvic tilt. It could just be their structure, and that structure could help them run well if they can let the upper and lower body work together.
The synergy between ribs and pelvis
I mentioned this a few paragraphs ago, but perhaps the precise determination of efficient pelvic and spinal mechanics while walking is the relationship between the ribs and the pelvis.
When the ribs become separated from the torso because they are flared up and forward, it is almost as if the force that is being distributed from the legs to the spine has stopped. If the ribs are not anchored to anything, it will change the movement of the pelvis as it propels you forward.
This means that if you feel that your running mechanics are inefficient, or if you seem to have to work harder than you think like you are, the problem may not be having to activate your glutes or abs while running should move forward in space.
Perhaps the problem is that you need to create a stronger connection between the top and bottom of the torso to find vertical compression and maintain vertical compression as you move forward in space.
Perhaps this would make you more efficient, make your gait smoother, and result in less wasted energy.
On the next run, imagine the ribs and pelvis connected to each other in the front and back. Check if you can keep this connection while it is running. If you can’t find the connection at first, that’s fine.
Try tapping the bottom of the ribs in front and the top of the pelvis. Imagine these points gently moving closer together.
Now tap the lower ribs at the back and back at the top of the pelvis. Imagine these points gently coming together. Occasionally think about the dots you typed while running. As the connections become clearer, you will feel your ability to shift the connection between these areas increase.
The pelvis is supposed to transfer the force from the lower body to the upper body– If you hold on to it, your ability to do it well is still limited.
Finding ease in your running stride is multifaceted and should be viewed from a full body perspective. This ease also enables you to run for many years to come.
1. Lewis CL, Laudicina NM, Khuu A. and Loverro KL, “The human pelvis: Variation in structure and function during walking.” The anatomical record. 300 (4), 633- 642. Pub. 15th March 2017.
2. Wong M., Sinkler MA, & Keil J., “Anatomy, abdomen and pelvis, sacroiliac joint”. StatPearls Publishing [Internet] Jan 2020. Treasure Island (FL).
3. Preece SJ, Mason D., and Bramah CA, “The Coordinated Movement of the Spine and Pelvis While Running,” Salford University, Manchester, Online, November 20, 2015. Elsevier. Human Movement Science. Vol 45, Feb 2016, pp. 110-118.
4. Otani T., Hashimoto K., Yahara M., Miyamae S., Isomichi T., Hanawa S., Sakaguchi M., Kawakami Y., Lim Ho. & Takanishi A., “Use of human pelvic rotation for the running robot. “Limits in Robotics and AI. July 8, 2015.
5. Anthony Schache, Peter D. Blanch, and Anna T. Murphy. “Ratio of the incline of the anterior pelvis while running to clinical and kinematic measurements of hip extension.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2000: 34: 4: 279-283.
6. Levine D., Colston MA, Whittle MW, Pharo EC, and Marcellin-Little DJ, “Sagittal lumbar spine position when standing, walking, and running at various inclines.” Journal of Athletic Training, 2007: 42 (1): 29-34.
7. Hay O., Dar G., Abbas J., Stein D., May H., Masharawi Y., Peled N. and Hershkovitz I., “The lordosis of the lumbar spine in men and women, revised.” PLoS One, 10 (8), e0133685. August 24, 2015.