Your friends think you've got the laid-back, hang-loose look, but your swayback posture can lead to problems down the road. Because you tend to lead with your hip bones and round your back forward, you're susceptible to pain and injury in your shoulders, hips, legs and feet. Basic corrective exercises and better awareness of how you stand and move can help fix what's out of whack. Your swayback didn't develop overnight, so it'll take time and effort to set yourself straight.
Warm up with 10 minutes of light cardio activity, such as brisk walking or light jogging. When you break a light sweat, perform a dynamic stretch -- such as lateral lunges or high-knee walks -- to further stimulate the muscles in the back, pelvic area and lower body. Torso twists with a light arm swing will wake up your upper body.
Massage tight muscles before progressing to other exercises. Identify a particularly tight, stiff area, which might include muscles of the neck, shoulders, upper or lower back, hip flexors or buttocks. Sitting or lying on the floor, place a foam roller or tennis ball under the problem area and gently move back and forth over the object to loosen up knots. Work slowly and systematically, massaging the area thoroughly before moving to the next muscle group.
Stand with your back, shoulders, buttocks and heels against a wall. Tilt your pelvis forward and away from the wall, exaggerating the curve in the lower back. Hold briefly. Pull your belly button toward your spine, tighten your glutes and tuck your tailbone under slightly, pressing your lower back toward the wall. Repeat this forward and backward motion slowly 10 to 15 times. Move away from the wall and repeat the exercise. Correcting your static, standing posture in this manner relaxes and retrains the muscles you've been misusing.
Perform side planks to build your core and reinforce proper alignment. Lie on your right side with your hips stacked and your legs extended downward from your hips. Move your left leg slightly in front of you, resting the inner foot on the floor. Lift your torso laterally and place your right hand on the floor directly under your right shoulder. Tighten your abs, extend your right arm and raise your hips, sweeping your left arm up and over your head. Hold this position briefly, keeping your shoulders and hips square to the front. Lower your hips and repeat up to five times, if you can do so with proper form. Switch to your left side.
Roll onto your stomach for the forward plank. Bend your arms and rest your palms on the floor near your ears. Extend your legs along the floor behind you and flex your toes for support, as you would for a pushup. Tighten your abs and raise your chest and pelvis off the floor, distributing your weight evenly between your forearms and toes. Align your head and neck with your spine, buttocks and legs. Hold this briefly and then lower yourself to the floor. To increase the intensity, raise your right leg slightly off the floor while holding the plank. Lower that leg and immediately raise your left leg. Alternate legs two to four times before lowering your body carefully to the floor.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Rest your arms along your sides and lengthen your spine and neck. Draw your belly button toward your spine. Working from your tailbone upward, raise one vertebrae at a time, as if you're slowly "peeling" your spine off the floor. When your body forms a continuous straight line -- or bridge -- from your shoulders to your tailbone, hold the position briefly. Slowly reverse the movement, lowering one vertebra at a time to the floor. Repeat two to four times.
- Check your alignment throughout the day. People with swayback posture tend to stand with their feet far apart and arms crossed over the chest. If you catch yourself standing this way, correct yourself.
- Use a mirror to check your alignment when you exercise.
- Perform exercises slowly and deliberately, breathing at regular intervals.
- Avoid clothing that restricts movement in your hips. Some styles -- such as low-rise pants -- can contribute to swayback posture.
- Avoid traditional curl-up exercises, which tend to exacerbate the swayback condition.
Judy Fisk has been writing professionally since 2011, specializing in fitness, recreation, culture and the arts. A certified fitness instructor with decades of dance training, she has taught older adults, teens and kids. She has written educational and fundraising material for several non-profit organizations and her work has appeared in numerous major online publications. Fisk holds a Bachelor of Arts in public and international affairs from Princeton University.