A healthy spine has natural curves in the thoracic area, which is located behind your chest, and the lumbar area, which is behind your tummy. If there's too much of a curve in your lumbar area, which is known as excessive lordosis, it can make your tummy and butt look bigger. More importantly, over time it could lead to severe back pain and injury. Some structural problems require a physician's input, but often excessive lordosis is due to muscle tightness and imbalance.
So how do you know if your lordosis is excessive? Try this test. Stand against a wall with your feet hip-width apart and an inch away from it. Your shoulders and hips should touch the wall. Don't try to press your back against the wall. If you can just slide your palm between your back and the wall without forcing it, your degree of lordosis is just right. If the gap is bigger than your palm, the lordosis is excessive.
If you don't pass the test, the first thing you'll want to do is strengthen your ab muscles. It probably won't surprise you that you can do this just by doing crunches and crunch twists. While lying supine on the floor, place your feet on a bench or up against a wall so that your knees are bent at 90 degrees. This will lessen the excessive curve in your back so you won't hurt your back while you do these exercises.
To correct excessive lordosis, you will eventually have to strengthen your back muscles also, but excessive lordosis usually means your back muscles are tight. So, at first, skip back strengtheners, such as extensions, and focus on stretches instead. Lie on your back and pull your bent knees into your chest or do the angry cat. Arch and round your back while on all fours or while standing with your knees slightly bent and supporting yourself with your hands resting just above your knees. When you return to the starting position, do not arch your back. Your head should stay aligned with your shoulders throughout the movement, that is, don't look up but don't let it drop onto your chest. Do three or four of these stretches several times each day and hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
Hip and Hamstring Stretches
In addition to tight back muscles, you most likely have tight hip flexor muscles. These probably aren't muscles you think much about, but they're the ones you use to raise your legs. While you're on your back for your back stretch, pull one bent leg at a time tightly into your chest. Alternatively, you can lunge one leg forward and, as you bend the back knee toward the ground, keep your torso straight by pushing through your hips. You may also have tight hamstrings. Extend your leg in front of you so that your heel is on the floor while your foot is flexed back. With your hand resting on your thigh, flex forward at your hips while slightly bending your back leg until you feel a stretch at the back of your thigh. Again, you should do three or four of these per session, holding each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
Back and Glute Exercises
Once your tummy muscles are tightened and your back and hip muscles are loosened up, it's time to strengthen your glutes and your erector spinae, which run down your spine. You can tighten your erector spinae with back extensions on a machine or while lying prone either on the floor or a stability ball. Then progress to supermans, using your back muscles to lift both arms and legs off the mat while you are lying on your stomach. Tighten your butt muscles with butt squeezes while sitting or standing. Bridges will also work your back muscles. You can also lie face down over a stability ball with your straight legs off the ball and your feet on the floor. Support your upper body with your hands on the floor in front of you and squeeze your glutes so that both legs are lifted.
- Sportsinjuryclinic: Corrective Exercises for Hyperlordosis
- Visnic Integrated Health: The Top Lordosis Exercise
- Personal Fitness Training: Theory & Practice, Mary Yoke, M.S
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images