I’ll be the first to admit, lats aren’t the first thing one usually thinks of when thinking about anterior pelvic tilt.
However, the lats can contribute to APT if they are short… or if they are stiffer than the abdominals.
If you almost look like Frankenstein when raising your arms overhead, you definitely have some tight lats.
The real test is getting to 170 degrees with arms overhead. Note that one arm might be different than the other. You can also test using one arm at a time.
Even though you may not have short lats, we still need to see if your lats are too stiff compared to your abdominals.
The first test is observing if one can simply maintain their pelvic position with the arms overhead.
The real test is to try to use your abdominals to see if you keep a neutral pelvic position while you lift both of your arms.
You are observing if the pelvis can maintain its position without moving. If your arms can get to the same spot without trying to use your abdominals, and you can maintain your lats, you do not have too stiff of lats.
From the testing, there are four possibilities:
0. You don’t have tight or stiff lats. Woohoo! (I'll count this as zero because there isn't a problem.)
1. You have short lats, but not excessively stiff lats.
2. You have stiff lats, but not excessively short lats.
3. You have short and stiff lats.
Our strategy is going to be simple. If we have tight lats, we will stretch them. If we have stiff lats, we need to train the abdominals to compete with the stiffness of the lats. If we have both short and stiff lats, we need to do a combination of both stretching and training the abdominals.
The last test we'll use is the standing shoulder internal rotation test. For this test, hold a pen or pencil in your hand while standing. See if the pen or pencil is facing forward. If it points inward at all, you have some excessively tight or stiff internal rotators.
The lats are internal rotators, so you should see if stretching them has a positive effect. While there are other implications and culprits for why you maybe internally rotated, you should see if stretching the lats improves your internal rotation at all.
Let's get to the fixes. Let's first assume you have short lats, but not stiff lats (picture #1 above).
We need to do the opposite of extending our arms and going into anterior pelvic tilt. I really like the crouched position for this because you can get a big lat stretch, but you also stretch out the whole posterior fascia chain which the lats are connected to.
Since the lats can also laterally flex your spine, you can also benefit by doing this stretch (which still includes the arms overhead position and rounded back position):
And damn, if those lats don't also contribute to thoracic rotation, we can stretch them out by rotating in the opposite direction like this. (Note, you can also combine the arms overhead, rounded back, and laterally flexed positions above).
These stretches are all great if we have tight lats, but not stiff lats. If we do have stiff lats, we are need to use a different strategy. We need to make sure we increase the stiffness of the abdominals to compete with the lats.
While there are a ton of ways to accomplish this, I’ve found two methods to work great.
The first is using the ground. This is ideal for those who cannot stand in a neutral pelvic position.
Lie on your back on the ground. Raise up your arms and keep your back flattened throughout the whole range of motion. That’s it! You can either hold this position, or go back and for with your arms. Either way, always keep your back flattened.
You can keep your arms overhead, or bring them forward, then back to beside your head. Either way, make sure your back stays flat which will require you to use your abdominals. This will help you maintain your pelvic position when your arms go overhead.
Please note that you should never raise your arms higher than if your back comes off the ground.
If you have short lats and stiff lats, you can use some DB's in your hands to help you with getting a bigger stretch. But under no circumstances should you stretch beyond the point where your low back comes off the ground.
Another option is to use a stick on your back, and then simply bring your opposite arm overhead. This is a perfect strategy if one arm was limited in lat length, but the other was not.
If you want to combine your abdominal strength training with your lat stretching, and combatting your lat stiffness, then you can use a dead bug.
Make sure your back stays flat, your arms can move or stay overhead, and your legs go up and down.
While the lats might not be the only thing keeping you in anterior pelvic tilt, they can still be a contributor. Keeping them loose while strengthening your abdominals will play a big role helping you stay out of APT.