How to Do Pelvic Tilts

Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

Targets: Abdominal muscles, sacroiliac joints, lower back

Level: Beginner

Pelvic tilts are an exercise comprised of very subtle spinal movements that strengthen the support muscles around the low back, particularly the abdominals. They are a good preliminary exercise for those seeking low back pain relief, and they feel great because they give your back a little massage.

Pelvic tilts can be done lying on the floor (supine pelvic tilts), standing with the back to a wall, on all fours, or seated on an exercise ball.

Step-by-Step Instructions

The supine version is appropriate for most people, including those who are postpartum. Learning this, the most basic variation of the move, is a good place to start:

Pelvic tilt
Verywell / Ben Goldstein

You can lay on a firm bed, exercise mat, or the floor if it's comfortable. When you perform a pelvic tilt from this position, you're essentially taking the natural curve out of your lower back. It can help to visualize your pelvis as a bowl of water; when you tilt your pelvis, imagine water spilling toward your belly.

  1. Lie on your back with bent knees and the soles of your feet on the floor. In this neutral position, the natural curve of your lumbar spine will lift the lower back slightly off the floor.
  2. Exhale and gently rock your hips toward your head. As you do this, you'll feel your lower back pressing into the floor.
  3. Stay here for a few breaths. When you're ready, inhale and return to your neutral position.
  4. Do 5 to 10 reps.

Common Mistakes

You're Forgetting to Breathe

Focusing on proper form and effectively engaging your core won't be enough if you forget to breathe. In any exercise you do, breathing is not only important to help you stay focused, but it's also integral to preventing injury. Remember: Your muscles need oxygen to perform optimally.

You're Using Your Core Incorrectly

When you engage your abdominal muscles, make sure to focus and really engage them. Don't just push your belly out or suck it in as you perform the movement. You'll feel deeper muscles (transverse abdominus) working once you've fully engaged your core.

You're Lifting Your Pelvis

If you let your buttocks come up off the floor as your pelvis tilts, you're actually moving more into a bridge position rather than a pelvic tilt. You also may end up rolling your pelvis in the wrong direction (toward your feet rather than your head).

Modifications and Variations

Need a Modification?

There are many different ways to perform a pelvic tilt. Depending on what your needs are—including your fitness goals and comfort level—try them all until you find the one that works best for you.

If you're pregnant or have a condition that makes it uncomfortable to lie on your back, the standing version of the pelvic tilt may be more comfortable for you.

  1. Place your back against a sturdy wall and lean slightly toward it
  2. Inhale and allow your knees to bend slightly.
  3. Exhale as you lift your pelvis up away from the wall toward your face. This movement should straighten the natural curve of your lower back such that it presses against the wall.
  4. When you're ready, inhale and return to your neutral starting position.
  5. Do 5 to 10 reps.

If you have back or shoulder pain, you may be able to ease the discomfort by placing a small ball between your back and the wall as you do this move.

Up for Challenge?

As your fitness level increases, you can keep pelvic tilts interesting and effective by trying out more challenging variations, such as:

Kneeling Pelvic Tilts

If you try this version, make sure you're performing on a padded surface. Pelvic tilts should only be done kneeling if you are free of pain in your wrists and knees.

  1. Kneel and get into an all-fours position with your wrists aligned underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Breathe in.
  3. Exhale and pull upward with your abdominals while rounding your back and pressing into your arms.
  4. Release slowly and return to neutral position.
  5. Do 5 to 10 reps.

Seated Pelvic Tilts

Don't be fooled by a version of the pelvic tilt you can do sitting down. Since you'll use an exercise ball, you'll have to keep your core engaged to maintain your balance, making this variation harder than it looks.

To get started, make sure you choose a ball of the right size. You should be able to sit on it with your hips slightly higher than your knees.

  1. Inhale as you take a seat on an exercise ball with your feet shoulder-width apart. Engage your core muscles to help maintain your posture and stay balanced.
  2. Exhale and tuck your tailbone under you, rolling slightly forward on the ball.
  3. Inhale as you press your tailbone back to roll the ball away from your feet and back to a neutral position.
  4. Do 5 to 10 reps.

Safety and Precautions

With so many variations and modifications, pelvic tilts are safe for most people.

You may want to avoid supine pelvic tilts if you're pregnant or have a condition that makes it painful to be flat on your back.

While standing and kneeling pelvic tilts can be a little more of a challenge, they're a better option for people who are pregnant or unable to lie on their back.

You should avoid kneeling pelvic tilts if you:

  • Have or are recovering from an injury to a hand, wrist, or knee
  • Have recently had surgery on your hand, wrist, or knee

If you have balance problems or injuries to your knees or feet that do permit weight-bearing, you should avoid standing pelvic tilts until you're healed.

As always, check with your doctor before starting or intensifying a workout routine, especially if you have conditions, injuries, or are healing from surgery involving your neck, spine, abdomen, or pelvis.

Try It Out

Pelvic tilts can be done on their own or as part of an ab workout, postpartum workout, a physical therapy routine, and even Pilates. For starters, you can try with these and other moves and workouts:

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Article Sources

Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Takaki S, Kaneoka K, Okubo Y, et al. Analysis of muscle activity during active pelvic tilting in sagittal planePhys Ther Res. 2016;19(1):50–57.

  2. Bradley H, Esformes J. Breathing pattern disorders and functional movementInt J Sports Phys Ther. 2014;9(1):28–39.