This week’s posture focus is LORDOSIS. A lordotic posture is one in which there is an increased curve in the lower back, also called the lumbar spine. This is caused by a combination of factors including weak abdominal muscles, glutes and hamstrings, and tightness in the gluteal muscles (the butt), lower back (usually the quadratus lumborum) and quadriceps. In other words, we want to strengthen the abs, bum and the back of the legs, and stretch the back, butt and front of the legs. This will allow the body to realign into a more balanced posture: neutral spine.
We are specifically talking about postural lordosis, not an increased lordosis caused by issues such as osteoporosis, spondylolisthesis, discitis, etc. For these issues you will need to exercise under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist. If there is pain, numbness and tingling, if the curve is visible even when you bend forward, if you are experiencing muscle spasms or there is problem with passing waste, please see your doctor.
Failing to address the lordosis can lead to problems with the spine, hips, legs, or even with the internal organs of the lower abdomen.
Here we go!
For the exercises, please use the search function on the left of the page to find each as we have covered them all before
Kneel with the left knee as close as possible to the wall, toes tucked into the wall behind you. The front leg is bent out in front with the foot flat on the wall. You can put something under the knee for comfort, but avoid altogether if you have knee problems. Tuck the pelvis under without arching the lower back. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
You can increase the stretch by further tucking the pelvis, having the knee closer to the wall, and having the foot higher up the wall. Do NOT lose the pelvic tilt. If the stretch is too strong, try leaving the foot down on the floor rather than tucking it into the wall. If you are avoiding due to knee issues, do a simple standing quad stretch. I think everyone will have done this at one time or other, where you balance on one foot with the other knee bent, holding the foot behind the butt
Begin as in pic 1, lying on the back with the spine in neutral and the knees bent up. Place the ankle of the right leg on the knee of the left. If this is as much as you can manage that’s fine, just push away the right knee to keep the knees wide. If you can, reach between the legs and grab on to the thigh of the left leg and pull it towards you to increase the stretch. Keep the upper body on the floor. You can place a cushion under your head if your flexibility doesn’t allow for this. Hold the stretch for 5-10 breaths then repeat on the other side.
Beware of pain in the knees, hips and lower back. For knee pain avoid this exercise, for lower back pain use the feet on floor option and engage the t-zone, for hip pain try adjusting position until you find a painfree position or avoid altogether.
Begin by kneeling on the hands and knees. Draw the left knee forward and lay the shin on the ground, extend the right leg behind as in pic 1. Lean the body forward. If you are able, you can lower the body right down so that you are lying on the forearms to increase the stretch further. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then repeat on the opposite side. You may find that with each out breath you are able to relax a little further forward into the stretch.
Again, avoid this stretch if you have knee problems or hip problems. You can adjust the angle of the shin to whatever is comfortable for you
Sit with both feet to the right, the right foot tucked behind you and the left foot tucked into the right leg. Hold the body as upright as possible and then lean to the right side (without leaning forward). Raise the left arm up and over the body. You can rest the right arm on the floor, or you can stretch it across the body to hold the left knee and increase the stretch. Hold for 5-10 breaths and then repeat on the opposite side.
If you are unable to manoeuvre your body into this position, you could simply stand upright and flex your body to one side and then the either i.e the same as basic standing stretch from last week but lean to side instead of back.
The final stretch is prayer stretch which we covered last week, but this time keep the arms beside the body rather than stretching them overhead. This will help to concentrate the stretch into the lower back. You can separate the feet to lower the butt closer to the floor and increase the stretch this way.
Just a final word to reiterate the point that postural correction is an ongoing process. Aim to follow the exercise lists at least 3 times a week, more if you can, and try to do the stretches everyday. You could increase this to every morning and every night At the very least, please complete these stretches straight after the prescribed exercises.
Work hard, work safe
P.S. Just a word on muscle weakness and tightness. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. It can happen that a muscle can become tight and weak at the same time, and this often happens in a lordotic posture. This is why I have included gluteal stretches, but have also included lower body exercises that strengthen the butt while working the hamstrings. Enjoy