A while ago I wrote an article about hip opener yoga postures for lordosis of the spine (swayback) and discovered that a lot of people are looking for ways to treat the condition. I thought it might be worthwhile to compile the extent of my experience in one place with the hope of helping those of you with this condition.
I have had lordosis of the spine all of my life and have, over time, developed a method of treating it that works very well for me. I believe there are several areas of focus necessary for the treatment and prevention of swayback. I will discuss each of them here and hope it will be of some use to you.
Tight muscles are a major factor in the development of swayback. Obvious areas such as the hip flexors and lower back muscles are definite culprits but other muscles can also contribute to a tipping of the pelvis and result in lordosis of the spine. Tight hamstrings, for example, can pull you out of alignment and, if your body is so inclined, result in swayback issues. Therefore, people with lordosis are encouraged to follow a regular routine of yoga at least three times a week with a focus on the following areas in addition to a general practice:
hip adductor and abductors
oblique abdominals (sides of torso)
If you have lordosis of the spine you have no doubt been told a hundred times to do your crunches. I was about seven the first time this was prescribed as a solution to my swayback issues. I’ve no doubt done enough crunches in my lifetime to fill a million Sundays and still, not real change to my swayback issues. I think I have discovered why this is.
People with swayback do not have strong enough transverse abdominal muscles. These are the innermost layer of abdominal muscles and they are responsible for pulling your midsection inward toward your spine. These are the muscles which, when trained, produce a flat stomach – far more so than working on the rectus abdominus which is the section of abdominal muscles trained when doing regular crunches on your back. It is possible to engage the transverse abdominal muscles while doing regular crunches but there are far better exercises suited to targeting the transverse abdominal area.
The yoga Plank Position is one way to work the transverse abdominal muscles.
The problem with this exercise is that it requires a preexisting level of abdominal strength in order to be done properly and for best effect. For people with lordosis of the spine, this strength is not yet developed and doing a full plank position can actually cause more problems by way of increased lower back and pelvic strain. Instead, I recommend doing a modified plank position: In this position you can actively engage the transverse abdominals without also having to support your entire body with the muscles in your arms, back and legs. Here’s what to do:
While on all fours, breath in and release your abdominal muscles. Breath out and pull your tummy toward your spine. Hold for ten seconds and release. Repeat this ten times, several times a day.
One of the absolute best core strengthening suggestions I can offer for the treatment and prevention of swayback is to do the following two videos every day (or as often as possible). They have had a real and lasting impact for me. Be sure to do the videos in the order shown for best effect.
I’m not sure which came first here, the chicken or the egg, but digestion seems to play a substantial role in swayback issues. Is it that your back sways and your digestion goes off or the other way around? I honestly don’t know but I see a definite connection and believe that eating well and making sure to keep the digestive juices flowing can have a positive impact on lordosis of the spine. Therefore, be sure to eat plenty of high fiber fruits and veggies, drink plenty of water and resist eating foods that are difficult for you to digest. If you do find that your digestion has become sluggish, take a few days to correct that. Following the suggestions made previously while at the same time righting your diet you’ll find that everything will fall back into proper alignment.
I hope these suggestions for treating lordosis of the spine have been helpful. In my experience they have been the best answer in dealing with my swayback issues. For lasting effect it’s best to follow these recommendations over the long term. If you stop, the benefit stops as well.