Hyperlordosis, also known as a “hollowback” or “swayback,” is an excessive curvature of the lower spine. This part of your spine is known as the lumbar region. There should be a slight curve there, but not an excessive one. When your back is curved too far, it can cause pain and spinal damage as well as a protruding stomach.
Many cases of hyperlordosis are caused by specific muscle weaknesses or posture problems. Hyperlordosis generally involves tight, tense muscles in the front of the body and weak muscles in the back. As a result, it’s possible to correct these cases of hyperlordosis through exercises that target the muscles of the back, thighs, and hips. This helps your muscles maintain your spine’s alignment.
Exercises to Help Hyperlordosis
Correcting postural hyperlordosis requires equalizing weak and tight postural muscles. The goal is to strengthen the muscles that counteract the tight, tense muscles of the front of the body while stretching the tight muscles. The result should be a well-supported spine on both sides.
1. Finding Correct Posture
Learning how good posture feels can help you maintain good posture between exercises.
Step 1: Sit in a chair with a straight back so your buttocks touch the chair back. Keep your feet flat on the floor, and keep your weight evenly between your hips.
Step 2: Push your chest forward as far as is comfortable and push your shoulders back to emphasize your spine’s curve as much as possible.
Step 3: Relax this stretch until your spine feels “straight.” If your shoulder blades are touching the chair, there should be room to fit your hand and little else between your lower back and the chairback.
This exercise helps you find correct posture without anterior pelvic tilt. You can repeat it regularly to remind yourself of healthy posture.
2. Kneeling Back Stretches
Stretching and releasing your lower back can help relax the muscles responsible for hyperlordosis.
Step 1: Kneel on the floor and place your hands on the floor shoulder-width apart.
Step 2: Lean forward, round your entire back, drop your tailbone toward the floor, and hold for 5 seconds.
Step 3: Slowly rock backward and bring your tailbone as close to your heels as you can. Leave your hands in place on the floor, and let your head relax down. Hold this position for 5 seconds.
Repeat this up to 10 times daily.
3. Knee to Chest Stretch
Stretching your thigh muscles and hamstrings can help your legs support your posture as well.
Step 1: Lie flat on the ground with your legs extended.
Step 2: Lift one leg, place your hands on your knee, and gently pull your knee to your chest. You should feel a stretch in your lower back and your buttock. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
Step 3: Repeat with your other leg, then repeat with both legs at once.
Repeat this up to 10 times per set, and complete three sets daily.
4. Pelvic Tilt Exercise
Strengthening your glutes and trunk muscles is key to keeping your spine supported.
Step 1: Lie on the floor with your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.
Step 2: Tighten your abdominal muscles and glutes to tilt your pelvis up away from the ground.
Step 3: Check that your spine is completely in contact with the ground, then hold your position for 10 seconds.
Repeat up to 10 times per day.
Planks strengthen the entire torso, helping to balance your trunk muscles more effectively.
Step 1: Lie flat on the floor on your stomach. Lift yourself up on your forearms so that your elbows are under your shoulders.
Step 2: Tighten your abdominal muscles while lifting your hips off the floor. Aim to keep your entire body in one straight line from ankles to shoulders. If your pelvis starts sagging, focus on lifting it.
Step 3: Hold each plank for 30 seconds or as long as you can.
You can repeat this exercise five times daily.
6. Abdominal Drawing-In Maneuver
A recommended solution for activating and strengthening the muscles surrounding your spine that help stabilize it, the abdominal drawing-in maneuver (ADIM) is easy to practice.
Step 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
Step 2: Tilt your pelvis forward and backward before settling into a central position.
Step 3: Take a deep breath.
Step 4: Exhale and draw your abdominal muscles to your spine. Allow your lower abdominal area to feel as if it is hollowing.
Step 5: Scan your body for any outside muscle contractions as you draw in your abdominals. Let pressure go if you notice it in your lower ribs.
Repeat this exercise as often as it feels comfortable. To begin, try it while lying down on your back at least five times per day. As you get familiar with the maneuver, you can complete it lying on your stomach or even while sitting or standing upright.
7. Sitting Pelvic Tilts with a Stability Ball
This exercise requires more equipment, but it’s nearly as easy as the ADIM if you have a balance ball. Once you’ve mastered abdominal drawing-in, you can add a stability ball to provide a little extra challenge. Research suggests that when they’re used correctly over time, these balls are effective for addressing issues such as lordosis.
Step 1: Sit on a stability ball with your feet and knees placed a little more than hip-distance apart. If your feet are flat on the floor, your knees should form a 90-degree angle.
Step 2: Contract your abdominals and round your lower back. Hold for several seconds.
Step 3: Arch your back forward, and tilt your hips in the opposite direction. Again, hold for several seconds.
To begin, this exercise can be completed up to 10 times in a single session. Feel free to repeat daily, as long as the pelvic tilts feel comfortable.
8. Dead Bug Exercise
While stretching is often highlighted as a top solution for lumbar lordosis, a growing body of research suggests that muscle strengthening is also important. The dead bug exercise is notorious for its ability to improve core strength. This, in turn, may make it easier to maintain proper posture and alignment of the spine.
Step 1: Lie on your back. Press your lower back into the floor. Observe any tension held in your shoulders and let it go.
Step 2: Lift your arms. Your elbows should be positioned directly above your shoulders, with both hands facing inward toward each other.
Step 3: Lift your legs with knees over hips to create a 90-degree angle with your thighs and calves.
Step 4: Exhale as you lower your right arm and left leg. Don’t let them touch the floor.
Step 5: Inhale and bring both your arm and leg back to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Because this exercise is more difficult than abdominal drawing-in and pelvic tilts, it’s best to start slow. To begin, stick with just five repetitions. Once you’re able to do the full exercise five times without lifting your lower back from the floor, increase the reps until you can complete 10 on each side.
As with all exercises and stretches, it’s important to take things slowly at first. You may only be able to complete a few repetitions at first, or you may not be able to stretch as far as you would like. Build up to deeper stretches and more repetitions over time.
These exercises are meant to relieve back pain, not cause it. If you feel discomfort, take a break or limit the number of repetitions.
If pain increases after trying these exercises, first try ice packs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease your discomfort. If the pain persists and ice, rest, and anti-inflammatories don’t help, talk to your doctor.
If you cannot fully straighten your spine or if your lower back feels “frozen,” your hyperlordosis may not be postural. If you feel any pain while trying to straighten your back fully, contact your doctor.