Eliminating a Triple Threat – Anterior Pelvic Tilt, Tight Hip Flexors and a Flat Butt

I had three intertwined issues with my hips which I decided to address.

Tight hip flexors: these are haunting me for a long time now. I have tried to get my front splits for over a year now, and my hip flexors hinder me from getting them flat. It took me a long while to figure out I don’t do lunges properly, and a longer while to figure out I need strength in my opposing muscles to stretch properly.

Anterior pelvic tilt: I have a some degree of APT, not too bad but noticeable. APT is a result of a muscle imbalance, where the glutes and lower abs slack off their duty to stabilize the pelvis, and the hip flexors pick up that slack by tightening up. Usually I wouldn’t fret over it, but after reading about it I realized that it could be why it is hard for me to stretch my hip flexors.

Flat Butt: it’s not really an issue as such, but who wouldn’t prefer a rounder and bigger bum. The glutes, which are the muscles that make your butt defy gravity, also serve as the opposite muscle group that needs to contract to make the hip flexors expand. Considering the fact that it can be both pretty and useful I’m definitely putting it up as one of my goals.

What is the cause? The most common explanation is sitting all day, rounded forward with short hip flexors at constant static tension, glutes stretched out and lower abs flopping instead of supporting the spine. The answer to my vows seems to be address the root cause and get a standing desk. But while I wait for that one to happen, I’m doing this small challenge.

The challenge consists of doing a small daily practice that aims to strengthen and utilize lower abs, strengthen and utilize the glutes, and stretch the hip flexors.

For the lower abs I took my cue from this excellent post. The instructions were clear, and I felt sore the day after. They work, so I’m content.

  • Deadbugs with exhale at the end. Lowering the leg and arm in a controlled manner and holding them low with the lower back flat on the floor is not much of a challenge to me. But that exhale really puts my core to work.
  • Plank. The breathing into the stomach and constantly checking my form really brings the most from this otherwise underwhelming exercise.

For the glutes I tried to find exercises that not just work on the regular range of motion, but also strengthening in the ranges where the hip is extended and where it will turn useful for aerial split one very beautiful day.

  • Squats. Starting off with 20 reps with intention to add more and use a weight.
  • Glute Bridges. My chiro suggested this one for me as the best glute activating exercise out there. I make a point of engaging my butt and abs, posteriorly tilting my hips, and lowering the back from the top down (instead of touch butt first = anterior tilt = no good) which makes this much harder.
  • Glute Bridge with a bent leg. Also from my chiro. In this variation you bend one knee to chest and either hold it with the hands or squeeze a ball between the thigh and the belly. It makes it harder to tilt hips forward and puts more load on the other glute.
  • Glute Bridge movements. Got it from Cleo’s Rocking Legs and Abs. In a glute bridge, move knees in and out while maintaining a good form. Do hip circles to both sides.
  • Donkey Kicks. With bent knee or straight leg, abs engaged. Bonus points for Fit&Bendy variation where you do a serious posterior tilt and only small pulses with the leg.
  • Three Legged Downward Facing Dog. Lowering and rising the leg with control and trying to get it as high as possible.
  • Sideways Legs holds. Not sure of the actual name. Standing on all four, extend a leg to the side, internally and externally the leg, move up and down, circles and other controlled slow movements.
After doing that strengthening for you abs and glutes, you’d be warmed up enough for some hip flexor and inner thigh stretching.
  • Foam rolling. Always nice to start off stretching by foam rolling. For this challenge I foam roll the quads and the inner thighs.
  • Very poteriorly tilted lunge. Start with a regular lunge, tuck the tailbone in, engage abs and glutes, put hands on your hips and push with the thumbs on the back of your hips to tilt them even further back. Push forward until hip flexors are stretching without compromising the form. Pushing more will not mean stretching more with this one, because you need to engage a lot of different areas hard and the more forward you go the harder is to not compromise the form.
  • Couch Stretch. The infamous couch stretch.
  • Lunge with a bent back leg. Stretches out the quads, which are the secondary tightness contributor in our hips.
  • Elevated back leg lunge. With a yoga block or chair, this will put the back leg in a different angle in relation to your torso. Increasing height does not mean increasing intensity level, it’s just different.
  • Pigeon Pose. The front leg inflexibility may prevent this stretch to be effective on hip flexors, but it’s a good one for learning to remain upright with one leg extended back.
  • Butterfly Pose. With proper foot placement, this pose is going to stretch the inner thighs, which seem to be linked to hip flexors tightness.
  • Frog Pose. Another inner thigh stretch.
  • Wall facing middle split. Sit in a straddle facing the wall, push your feet into it and let them slide to the sides, keep knees engaged and locked. This variation allows to control completely the intensity of the stretch, and works well on inner thigh flexibility.

Obviously, I’m not going to do all of these exercises each day. I’ll take a handful from each section depending how I feel that day. I’ll also have RLNA a few times a week, which contains a lot of the above in one form or another.

Let’s see how this plays out!

Hyperhidrosis and Poling

I have a medical condition called Hyperhidrosis, which makes me sweat from my hands and feet excessively and often, sometimes without any reason at all.  I’ve had it since birth, but it was never that bad. So my hands get wet without a warning and it might be embarrassing to shake hands with somebody, no biggie. Other than these infrequent incidents I didn’t give it much of a thought.

Solution #0 Power Though it

When I first started pole dancing, I quickly learned that I sweat too much to just brave it. My instructor said that over time my skin will get used to this and will stop, but that never happened to me. She said to keep the pole clean, and I found myself wiping it off after every single time I attempted a move. It did not help much, and I still needed a better grip.

Solution #1 Grip Aids

I didn’t take long to discover the wonderful world of grip aids. There was the magnesium powder that my instructor kept in the studio which I kept going back to during class. It helped, very temporarily though, and I almost single-handedly diminished it. I started investigating what else the big world has to offer and learned along the way that not all grip aids were created equal. Some literally enhance the grip, like the Mighty Grip powder that my hands sweated off a moment after I put it on. Some are antiperspirants, which make you grip better by cutting the sweat down. I chose Tite Grip, which is one of the latter, but my hands chose to ignore it. Unlike all the other girls around me, Tite Grip made my hand dry… for less than a minute.

Solution #2 Gloves

After the grip aids failed me during my first months of training, I resorted to The Mighty Grip Gloves with tack. They gripped the chrome poles in my studio very nicely. Although I felt like my hands were sliding inside of them, they were secure and I never had an incident with them. I tried to do as much as I could without them, since once I put them on my hands would sweat uncontrollably and I had no change of doing anything if I took them off again. Some days, my hands sweated right though the gloves.

The gloves gave me undeniable results, moves became possible and I progressed amazingly. The only issue was that I lost all grip on my skin. I did not trust my bare hands anymore to hold me, and it’s not a good state to be in as an advanced pole dancer. I also pretty much gave up on spins, since gloves and sliding does not mix well. I used my gloves so much I tore holes in the tacky part and had them replaced within months.

Solution #3 Ecoball

I did not like being so dependent on gloves and tried to wean off them. It was a hard transition back, as I was simply scared to do moves and I had no way to cut down the sweat. I tried some more antiperspirants like Dry Hands and Dirty Girl Poletice, but nothing stopped my hands from sweating for longer than a minute, if at all. A fellow poler introduced me to the eco ball, a cotton ball full of chalk powder which transfers to your hands when you squeeze it. It had the same effect, it would absorb the sweat for long enough for me to get on the pole for a move. It was better than nothing, and better than the gloves.

Solution #4 Acupuncture

After I ditched the gloves I got attached to the eco ball. I had to squash it whenever I wasn’t on the pole, and spent as much time on the pole as I was with my hands in the sack. It went on for many good months because it worked for me. It worked. but only until I had to pass on my first opportunity to compete nationally. Training wise I was really strong and advanced, but I was just unable to do more than one transition before I had to get down, wipe the pole and chalk my hands. I didn’t feel ready to do an entire routine to a 3-4 minute long song, when I never did anything longer than half a minute on the pole in my life. When I went to watch the competition, I realized that I was easily on par with the winners in the amateur division I would have run for. If only my hands didn’t sweat so much.

I decided to take a tip from an instructor I met once, which suggested acupuncture. I never believed in this, and kind of didn’t think much of it. I just thought I had nothing to lose and it’s worth a shot. It’s still better than a surgery, which I’ll never do. I started weekly acupuncture treatments, enjoying the benefit of the doubt. After quite a few weeks, my sweating decreased. It almost decreased to manageable level actually. For a moment I didn’t trust that strengthening my kidneys and heart by laying with needles stuck in my arms and legs will help, but it did. It also help some sleeping problems I had, which, in the traditional Chinese medicine, are connected to excess sweating.

I had to stop the treatments due to life circumstances, and after a few months the sweating kicked right back in. It was worse than ever, and I started them again in a new clinic. My new acupuncturist said that her goal is no never see me again, and space the treatment more and more until my body is able to regulate itself. I’m still not there, but I’m hopeful.

Solution #4 Surgey

There is a surgery that destroys the sweat buds on the hands. I have heard that the body re-balances it by activating new sweat buds on a different body part. I’m not even sure if it’s true, but surgery is probably not something I’ll ever do to myself, I’d rather just keep with want currently works for me, and redirecting the sweat to a surprise body part will not make things much better. What if it’s now my inner thighs that sweat uncontrollably, everywhere, at any time?

There’s also the iontophoresis machine and the botox options I didn’t explore. It’s just other desperate options to keep up my sleeve, though I hope I won’t need them.

What Works for Me Now

So until that happens this is what works for me. I put Tite Grip at the beginning of class, and after it dries I chalk any sweat remnants. I noticed that it’s more manageable to keep the sweat at zero rather than let my hands sweat during downtime and clean it off later. I wipe the pole before and after every time I touch it, and then chalk my hands if they get the slightest hint of moisture. I do acupuncture treatments, which definitely started to make the difference. I’m trying to cut down on the chalk use, though at this point it is physiologically hard.

Looking forward to dancing full length routines.