What is Lumbar Lordosis?
Lumbar lordosis is a condition of the spine where there is an increased inner curvature in the lumbar area, namely in the lower portion of your back. It is also commonly known by many as swayback. In fact, the human spine displays a certain amount of lordosis. Still, when the lordosis increases to a certain point, it might pose a problem for the person.
Lumbar Lordosis Causes and Risk Factors
One of the most significant factors causing lumbar lordosis is the anterior pelvic tilt. It is an increased curve of the lower or lumbar spine. The lower back will put more pressure on your entire back when this happens, often leading to poor movement and back pain, especially in the lower back. Hence, it is crucial to keep good posture whenever curving your spine, at the very least.
Other common factors causing lumbar lordosis are weak core muscles, weak gluteal (buttocks) muscles, tight hip flexors, and poor posture during exercises.
A good measure of the proper curve of the lumbar spine when standing would be approximately 30-35 degrees.
In general, factors increasing the risk of lordosis alternation include:
- Poor posture
- Spondylolisthesis (displaced vertebrae)
- Spondylosis (degenerative disc disease)
- Disc problems
- Previous spine surgery
- Vertebral body injuries, such as compression fractures
- Hip disorders
Exercises to Prevent Lumbar Lordosis
Fortunately, some of the milder symptoms of lumbar lordosis, such as incorrect posture or moderate to severe lower back pain, can be managed by simple lumbar lordosis exercises. Some of these exercises focus on balancing the muscle’s weakness in your spine and, finally, improving it.
Some of the exercises helping prevent lumbar lordosis include:
Hip Flexor Stretches
Sometimes, when the hip flexor is too tight and is not stimulated often, the neighboring muscles, such as those of the muscles in your buttocks (gluteal muscles), become weak. It may affect the alignment of your pelvis. Thus it is essential to stretch hip flexors from time to time. You can accomplish it by doing so:
- Stand up straight
- Bend your knee and hold on to your ankle from your back
- Tilt your pelvis forward while pulling your leg back
- Hold this stretch for about 20-30 seconds at a time,
- And then go back to the starting position
- Repeat at least 5-10 times per leg
Lower Back Muscle Stretches
Stretching lower back muscles is another tip to prevent lumbar lordosis. You can practice these stretches by doing the following:
- Lie down on your back (you can practice this on the bed or the floor with a yoga mat)
- Slowly pull both of your knees up to your chest
- All while guiding them with your hands clasped slightly lower than where your knees are located
- Inhale as you are doing this
- Hold the position for at least 20-50 seconds
- Then slowly stretch your legs back to the starting position
- Repeat this procedure at least ten times
Abdominal muscles are essential core muscles and play a crucial role in determining posture. Doing abdominal muscle strengthening exercises can help in strengthening the spine and reducing inward curvature. Abdominal crunches can be done by:
- Lying on your back facing the ceiling (can be done on your bed or the floor with an exercise mat)
- Tilt your pelvis back
- You can do this by pushing your lower back onto the floor
- Lift your torso off the floor
- Do this until your torso is at a 30-degree angle from the floor
- Support your neck with your hands
- And then slowly return to the initial position
- Do this exercise at least ten times.
Oblique Crunches are somehow the same as abdominal crunches but are done at an oblique angle to stimulate other parts of your abdominal or core muscles. This exercise can be accomplished by:
- Lying down on your back and bending your knees to one side while your feet are resting near the floor.
- Place fingers on the sides of your head behind your ears
- Push down your lower back into the floor and hold.
- Slowly curl up so that both of your shoulders lift off the floor a few inches
- Try holding this position for 5 seconds
- Return to the original position
- Repeat this exercise 10 times on both sides of the body.
Other Tips for Lumbar Lordosis Prevention
Other tips on how to prevent lumbar lordosis include:
- When sitting, keep your feet flat on the ground
- Do not lock your knees straight whenever standing
- Place a flat pillow under the belly if you usually sleep on your stomach
- Avoid wearing high heel shoes frequently
Lumbar lordosis occurs when there is an excessive inward curvature in the lower part of your back. It is a pretty common condition, but it can cause pain and loss of function and mobility. However, there are ways to protect your back and keep it healthy and strong. Take the following steps to prevent the pain of lumbar lordosis from slowing you down:
- Practice good posture: This is especially important if your back muscles are weak. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in, your shoulders back, and your head up both when you’re sitting and standing. Never slouch. Good posture supports your spine and helps prevent lumbar lordosis.
- Take frequent breaks to stretch: This is especially important if you work at a desk all day. If you can’t stand up to stretch out, raise your arms over your head and stretch out your legs.
- Strengthen your glutes: Strong glutes help prevent lumbar lordosis. Lying on the floor, squeeze the muscles of your buttocks as tight as you can to try to lift them from the floor.
- Control your weight: Obesity increases your risk for lumbar lordosis.
- Manage your other health conditions: Diseases like osteoporosis can contribute to lumbar lordosis, so follow your doctor’s recommendations for treating any other health problems you may have.
Lumbar lordosis can lead to pain in the lower back. Here are some suggestions that may help you cope with low back pain.
To manage pain while sitting:
- Roll up a small towel and place it behind your back at your belt line to help support your low back.
- Avoid sitting on a low, soft sofa. It may look comfortable, but it can hurt your low back when you stand up, leading to lumbar lordosis.
- As you stand up from a seated position, avoid bending forward from your waist. Place your hands on your chair at a push-up with your arms instead.
- Monitor your posture frequently. Remind yourself often to sit up straight: tummy tucked in, shoulders back, chin up. It may help prevent lumbar lordosis.
- Avoid sitting down in a bathtub. Take a shower instead. Falls in the tub can lead to injuries that may cause lumbar lordosis.
To manage pain when driving:
- Get out of the car every few hours when driving long distances. It will help prevent the pain caused by excessive lumbar lordosis.
- Avoid excessive lumbar lordosis by placing a pillow or towel behind your back.
- While driving long distances, change the position of your seat every few hours.
- Do not take long trips if you experience pain or suffer from severe lumbar lordosis. If you must travel a long distance, ask a friend to drive.