Lumbar lordosis is when the back has an excessive curve, which may be situated just above the buttocks. This is often accompanied by lower back pain. A number of factors — from posture to pregnancy — can make the pain and discomfort associated with this problem worse.
Lumbar lordosis often develops after an infection of the spine's vertebrae. Commonly referred to as discitis, this condition can be viral but usually involves a bacterial infection. Although it’s common in children, the condition can also develop in pregnancy because of natural shifts in the expecting mother's center of gravity that can make it tough to maintain good posture during pregnancy. Poor posture in both childhood and adulthood can also contribute to the problem.
Gentle exercises are a top option for many conditions that involve undesirable curvature of the spine. Stretching and breathing exercises, in particular, can reduce pain while also strengthening your muscles to help your posture, which can keep the condition from worsening.
As with any type of exercise, it is important to start gradually and build up in intensity over time. This will help prevent you from unintentionally making the problem worse with overly intense exercises.
Exercises to Help Lumbar Lordosis
One of the chief goals of exercises for lumbar lordosis is to reduce pain. If you perform them incorrectly, though, many exercises can actually make the problem worse, so be careful and go slowly. These easy-to-master motions can provide much-needed relief:
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. It can even be accomplished while lying down. It can also be used to train for stabilization while active.
Step 1: Lie down 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 inhalation.
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.
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.
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 5 times without lifting your lower back from the floor, increase the reps until you can complete 10 on each side.
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 non-steroidal 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.