How to fix your Hyperlordosis (Arched back)

// What is Hyperlordosis?

Hyperlordosis is a term used to describe the excessive curvature in the lower back.

It is also referred to as having a significantly arched back.

 

// What are the causes?

1. Tight lower back muscles:

This includes:

  • Erector spinae group
  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Latissimusi dorsi (through the thoracolumbar fascia)
  • Psoas

Collectively as a group – when these muscles are tight/overactive, they will pull the lower back into an excessive arch. (Hyperlordosis)

2. Weak abdominal muscles:

With Hyperlordosis, the abdominal muscle group are placed in an inefficient stretched position.

This makes them particularly weak and inhibited.

…. This is a problem! A big problem.

Why?

The primary role of the abdominal muscles is to oppose the strong pull of the lower back muscles in order to maintain a normal lumbar spine curve.

// Hyperlordosis increases the risk of:

  • Nerve impingement
  • Joint degeneration
  • Muscular tightness
  • Postural issues
  • Lower back pain

 

// How can you tell if you have a Hyperlordosis?

1. Take a photo of yourself on the side:

hyperlordosis

Do you have a significantly arched back?

(… If you have it – you can not miss it.)

 

2. Feel the muscles on the back:

In Hyperlordosis, the muscles on either side of the lumbar spine are prominent and significantly firm to touch.

 

// Things to avoid

Do NOT place your body in positions where there is an excessive amount of extension in your lower back.


 

The 8 steps to fix your Hyperlordosis


Image courtesy of Paul Gooddy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Note: All exercises must be conducted in a gentle and pain-free manner. If you have any doubts, please feel free to contact me and I’ll help you out.


1. Release the tight muscles

a) Lower back

Instructions:

  • Lie on the floor with you hip and knees bent.
  • Place a massage ball on the tight muscles under the lower back region.
  • Relax your body weight on top of the ball.
  • Move your body in a circular motion on top of the ball to target the tight areas.
  • Proceed to cover all the muscles for at least 1 minute each.
  • Do not hold your breath. Remember to breathe!

 

2. Stretches

a) Prayer Pose

Instructions:

  • Kneel on the floor.
  • Spread and reach your hands as far in front of you as possible.
  • Sit back into your hips.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the lower back.
  • Take deep breaths in/out
  • Do this for 1 minute.

b) Lat stretch

Instructions:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Bend all the way to one side.
    • To emphasise the stretch, reach your arm over. (see above)
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your body to the lower back.
  • Hold this position for 1 minute.
  • Alternate sides.

c) Hip flexor stretch

Instructions:

  • Assume a deep lunge position as above.
  • Tuck your tail bone underneath you.
  • Remain up right.
  • Make sure you feel the stretch in the front of the hip of the back leg.
  • Hold the stretch for a minimum of 1 minute.
    • (If you are particularly tight in this region, I strongly encourage you to hold the stretch for 2 minutes)
  • Repeat at least 3-5 times on each side.

 

3. Learn to breathe

“Breathing?… What has that got to do with my Hyperlordosis?”

Everything.

Your breathing is crucial in maintaining the correct posture. (especially when it comes to fixing your hyperlordosis)

Not only do your abdominal muscles help with full exhalation, they also help maintain the ideal lower alignment by controlling the position of the lower ribs.

Here’s what to do…

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
    • You can tilt your pelvis backwards to help flatten your back on the floor.
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose and slowly let the air out through your mouth.
  • As you reach the point where you completely empty out your lungs, notice how your lower ribs and lower back drop towards the ground.
  • Maintain this lowered rib position by gently engaging your abdominal muscles
    • Engage your core muscles by drawing your belly button in.
  • Continue diaphragmatic breathing for 10 repetitions
    • Imagine you are breathing deep into your stomach. Your upper chest should not be moving excessively as you breathe.
  • Practice this as many times throughout the day!
    • It takes time to get good at breathing properly.

 

4. The Dead bug exercise

This exercise is king.

If you do not practice this exercise, you will not get rid of your Hyperlordosis!

The aim of this exercise is to engage your abdominal wall to keep your spine in neutral.

As everyone is at different strength levels, I have included 3 variations of the Dead Bug exercise for you to try.


Thing to keep in mind:

  • Keep the lower back COMPLETELY flat against the floor… ALL OF THE TIME.
    • It is imperative that you do not let your lower back arch and lift off the ground.
  • There should be NO tension in your lower back whilst performing these exercises.
  • Think about keeping your lower ribs down at all times. Your chest should NOT flare out.
  • Remember to engage the core and abdominal muscles throughout all movements.
    • (Think about drawing your belly button down into your spine.)

a) Leg drop (bent knee)

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your knee and hip bent at 90 degrees. (feet off floor)
  • Keep both knees bent throughout the movement.
  • Keeping your right knee bent towards your chest, slowly lower the left leg towards the ground.
  • Only lower as far as you can whilst maintaining your lower back completely flat on the ground.
  • Return back to starting position.
  • Alternate legs.
  • Repeat 10 times.

b) Leg drop (straight leg)

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your knee and hip bent at 90 degrees. (feet off floor)
  • Keeping your right knee bent towards your chest, slowly lower AND straighten the left leg towards the ground.
  • Only lower as far as you can whilst maintaining your lower back completely flat on the ground.
  • Return back to starting position.
  • Alternate legs.
  • Repeat 10 times.

c) Alternate arm/leg drop

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your knee and hip bent at 90 degrees (feet off floor) and arms straight up into the air.
  • Slowly lower the left leg AND right arm towards the ground.
    • Only lower as far as you can whilst maintaining your lower back completely flat on the ground.
  • Return back to starting position.
  • Alternate opposite arm/legs.
  • Repeat 10 times.

If you’re like most of the people that I have taught this to, you will probably hold your breath whilst performing these exercises. Make sure that you do NOT hold your breath!

I repeat – Do NOT hold your breath!

 

5. “Get a strong bum”

(… also known as activating your glute muscles.)

If the Dead bug exercise is king, then strengthening your glute muscles is queen.

If your bum muscles aren’t doing their job, the lower back tends to take over resulting in an arched back.

Here are 3 glute activation exercises:

Remember: Engage your abdominal muscles and breathe properly!

 

a) Standing kick back

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing upright, extend your leg backwards until you feel your gluteals contract firmly.
  • Keep your lower ribs down by engaging your abdominal muscles.
  • Do NOT arch your back.
  • Do not rotate or bend forward.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Alternate legs for 20 repetitions each.

b) 4 pt kneel kick back

Instructions:

  • Whilst in the 4 point kneel position, extend your leg backwards until you feel your gluteals contract firmly.
  • Keep your back straight by engaging your abdominal muscles.
  • Do not rotate your body. Only your leg should be moving.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Alternate legs for 20 repetitions each.
  • (Note: It may look like my back is arching too much, but the truth is, I just have a big bum muscle)

c) Bridge

Instructions:

  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent.
  • Flatten your lower back to the ground.
  • Keep your lower ribs down by engaging your abdominal muscles.
  • By pushing off with your heels, lift your buttocks off the floor.
  • Only lift as high as you can without arching your lower back.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 15 times.

*** BONUS ***: Want even more exercises for the glutes? Click here to see the full list of all the exercises that you will ever need to know!


6. Learn how to stand/sit properly

When sitting or standing: Your rib cage should feel directly into your pelvis.

In people with Hyperlordosis, the lower portion of the ribs tend to flare forwards (see above) causing an arched back.

How to position the ribs correctly:

  • Place your hand at the front of the lower rib cage.
  • Gently guide your lower rib cage down and backwards.
    • Make sure not to over shoot this movement!
  • You should feel some pressure being taken off your lower back.
    • … if you are very tight, you might even feel a stretch.

Here’s an analogy:

You are iron man. (… this is my personal childhood dream)

You have that light thing on the chest.

In most of you, your light would be pointing in a slight upward direction from the horizontal.

You want to get the light beam horizontal.


Note: With people with Rounded shoulders, this correction will usually find your shoulders will round forward even more. Check out this post to address this problem.

 

7. Over head activities

If you perform any exercises/activities/jobs where you are using your hands above your head… you need to read this.

A common problem I see with these over head movements is that people tend to over arch their lower back. Don’t do this!

Examples:

  • Shoulder press at the gym
  • Puting clothes on the line
  • Painting the ceiling

8. Fix your posture (as a whole)

Although you were see significant improvements in your Hyperlordosis by just doing the above mentioned exercises, to make sure you address the problem wholistically you will need to have a look at these postures.

Hyperlordosis is commonly associated with the following types of postures: 

1. Sway back posture

Want to know more? Check out this post: Sway Back Posture.

2. Anterior pelvic tilt

Want to know more? Check out this post: Anterior Pelvic Tilt.

3. Hunchback posture

… Want to know more? Check out this post: Hunchback Posture.

Since a Hyperlordosis never exists by itself, I strongly encourage (in fact, I insist!) you look at the above posts to help you completely address your problem.


In summary:

To fix your Hyperlordosis:

Keep your a) lower ribs down, b) core/abdominal engaged, c) get a strong bum and d) breathe properly!

Leave me a comment! I reply to everyone!

About

I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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28 thoughts on “How to fix your Hyperlordosis (Arched back)

  1. Hi Mark, in your experience, is it possible for someone who has lumbar lordosis and an anterior pelvic tilt, to safely practice handstands? I know this would differ from person to person, and is also dependent on abdominal and core strength. Assuming that a person has consistently practiced the exercises you have suggested to help with ‘fixing’ their posture, do you is handstand a posture best avoided even after their posture is improved?

    1. Hi Elizna,

      It is fine as long as you aim to maintain neutral pelvis/spine.

      If you keep falling into APT and hyperlordosis, I would consider keep getting your core muscles stronger until you can maintain neutral spine.

      However – just make sure you have adequate a) Wrist extension at least 80-90 degrees) and b) full shoulder flexion.

      Mark

  2. I’m aware that results will vary tremendously from person to person, but how long on average do you think it would take a person to fix hyperlordosis through these methods?

    1. Hi Max,

      This is a really hard question to answer.

      It really depends on what exactly is causing the hyperlordosis.

      Some people are just not engaging the right muscles, others might be very tight, and others might have a combination of both.

      It also depends on how long you’ve had it. How much time you are dedicating to exercises. What you do throughout the day etc etc.

      Some people can fix it straight away by just engaging the right muscle, whereas otherwise who have a lot tightness, they can take more than 3 months.

      Hope this answers helps.

      Mark

  3. Hello Mark,
    I was wondering how you should be standing straight? In #2 – Things to Avoid, you have a picture of an arched back when standing up. This is my ‘natural’ back when standing straight. How do I walk without having this posture?
    Also, how do you deal with Hunchback, Arched Back, and maybe even Head-Forward posture all at the same time? I feel like I have an arched back and a bit of the other 2.

    Appreciate this page, has been very useful!
    Sam.

    1. Hi Sam,

      You will have to do the exercises to help reduce your hyperlordosis when walking. It is likely your tight muscles/joints are holding you in this particular position.

      If you have multiple postural deviations (which is very common), I would start on optimising your arched back if it is the most prominent.

      Mark

  4. Hi,
    Do you by chance have any experience with diastasis recti & abdominal hernia? I have that as well as, maybe anterior pelvic tilt or hyperlordosis (or can I have those at the same time?) I took a picture of myself & my shoulders also round foreword. There is so much info online I don’t know where to start. Thank you. Hopefully you can point me in the right direction do my back can stop hurting & I can help my abdominal muscle separation.

    1. Hi Sheena,

      I have seen quite a few people after their pregnancies with diastasis recti and hernias.

      Having an anterior pelvic tilt places your abdominal wall in a long and inefficient position, which effectively makes that area very weak. This can lead to a higher chance of abdominal hernias.

      I would start working on getting good at the “dead bug” exercise. You can find some examples of this here.

      Just make sure you understand how to engage your core appropriately. Do not over tense your tummy muscles!

      Let me know if you need more help.

      Mark

      1. Thank you Mark! I will try the dead bug exercise. I did forget to mention that I also have lower rib flare. I’ve been working on the anterior pelvic tilt but no idea how to help the ribs to go back in (looking back at childhood pictures it seems to be a long time problem) I’m concerned because when I try and exercise my ribs will feel bruised afterwards.
        One more thing, you know when you lay on your back, with your feet flat on the floor so your knees are bent.. Well when I do that my lower back arches. Is that from anterior pelvic tilt? So if I keep correcting my posture it will get better?
        Thank you so much for your response. I’ve recently become a facebook follower since finding your website 🙂

        1. Hi Sheena,

          Rib flare is very common with an anterior pelvic tilt and hyperlordosis. This is due to the over active muscles in the back next to the spine.

          You should be able to flatten your back once you gain better control of your spine/pelvis.

          Thanks for following on Facebook!

          Mark

          1. So rib flare will correct with the correction of anterior pelvic tilt and hyperlordosis. Thanks for the reassurance!

  5. my daughter is 12 and has this, she is very self conscience about it and embarrassed about it because it makes her stomach protrude more than others. She asks about what she can do all the time about it. I decided to research it and found this site. Isn’t there anything we can do or something to wear at night that might help in correcting this?

  6. Hi Mark,
    I sit down for most of my day, around 5/6 hours at school and then most of my time at home. How do I get into the habit of sitting correctly?

    1. Hi Zoe,

      Initially, it is all about awareness.

      You need to keep catching yourself when you slump into bad posture and then re-correct.

      Secondly – it is knowing exactly what the ideal sitting posture is.

      Thirdly – you will need to identify what kind of posture you have so that you can do the specific exercises to help you maintain a more natural posture.

      Realistically – you will not be able to maintain the ideal posture 100% of the time and this is completely fine. Just try to aim to be in a more neutral position than what you are doing now.

      Mark

  7. Hello Doctor
    I was infected with the vertebrae of L5 and S1 when the diagnosis was found to bulge the disc
    My question is whether this injury can be treated permanently or is it a stage of cartilage slide and can not be treated
    Can I return to my sports life normally or have my sports career ended?

    1. Hi Walid,

      It is still possible for the disc bulge to retract to some extent.

      For it to go back 100% will be unlikely.

      But having said that, you can definitely do certain exercises to resume your sports.

      Mark

      1. Please, I would like to give you examples of these exercises if you can
        I just want to say that I practice karate. Can I go back to practicing the sport at the same level before the disease?
        I also want you to explain how well you can heal and if possible
        And what sport can I do right now and whether the bike is harmful or useful and I am in this case
        Thanks Dr.

  8. Hey Mark! Thank you so much for offering your help. I was wondering if i could put a pillow under my head, , because everytime i do these exercises, I get headaches from the hard floor.

  9. I’m so blessed to meet you! I have had this pelvic tilt problem forever! I am going to do your exercises, but the “bridge” exercise hurts me too much so I can’t do that one. Do you think it’s because I have 2 degenerative disks? That is my question. I am 61 years old but not necessarily inactive until the past 6 months. Either way, I’ve been a commercial cleaner all my life and I don’t want to stop because of my tilted pelvis which is really bringing me down.
    Thank you for YOU!! You are truly a giving person sharing this knowledge.
    I commend you.
    Yvonne

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      If you are doing the technique correctly, try raising your hips off the ground to half the height to when the pain starts. This might help your body get used to the exercise.

      Mark

  10. Hi Mark! I’m so happy that i have found your website.you provide much needed help for people , including myself… thanks alot!
    regarding “things to avoid” section: does this qualify as being a dangerous move for someone with hyperlordosis?
    https://cdn2.omidoo.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/full_width/images/bydate/20121116/founderexercise40366113304.jpg
    i saw a TED talk about this exercise, i wanted to know a professionals opinion.
    thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Bob,

      I love that yoga pose. It’s called the Utkatasana pose. Great for posture.

      However – if you are someone who has a significant arch, I would perform the exercise with a more neutral spine and with your abdominal muscles braced.

      Mark

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