Swayback Posture Exercises

Young woman practicing yoga in the studio
Correcting swayback posture takes stretching, strengthening, and breathing exercises. (Image: boggy22/iStock/Getty Images)

A swayback posture means that your lower back is arched, pushing your hips forwards and shoulders back. It looks like you are constantly bending backward with your upper body, hence the term "swayback."

This posture can be potentially harmful as it puts pressure on your lower back. To correct this posture, you'll need stretching, strengthening and breathing exercises.

Lordosis and Anterior Pelvic Tilt

There are multiple names for swayback posture. Lordosis and anterior pelvic tilt are two scientific terms that describe the same posture. Lordosis refers to the way that the spine curves in a swayback.

Anterior pelvic tilt refers to the way that your pelvis, or hip bone, is moving. When your lower back is curved forwards it rotates your entire pelvis forward. The swayback posture isn't just a problem for your lower back, the involvement of your pelvis means it's also a problem for your hips and even your shoulders and knees.

Corrective Strategies

Swayback posture is also called lower crossed syndrome, coined by Czech physiotherapist Dr. Vladimir Janda. The name hints at why swayback posture occurs. The lower back muscles and hip flexors are tight and the abdominal and glute muscles are weak, causing the pelvis to tilt forward, according to an article on his website. If his theory is correct, then you need to strengthen the abdominal and glute muscles and stretch the lower back and hip flexors.

The last piece of the puzzle is the muscle that allows us to breathe: the diaphragm. When your lower back is arched it puts the diaphragm out of alignment, making it difficult for you to take smooth, deep breaths. When you can't breathe properly it makes it even more difficult to maintain a proper posture. That's why it's important to practice breathing exercises in addition to strengthening and stretching muscles.

Stretches

These stretches target the two muscle groups whose tightness causes swayback posture: the hip flexors and lower back.

Child's Pose

Use this yoga stretch to help relax your whole body, in particular your lower back.

How to: Kneel down on the ground with your butt resting on your heels. Reach forward with your arms and place your hands on the ground. Relax into the stretch and try to rest your forehead on the ground.

Bench Hip Flexor Stretch

If you don't feel this stretch, try raising your arms over your head. Make sure you stretch both legs.

How To: Put the top of your back foot on a bench behind you and your knee on a soft pad. Plant the other foot in front of you with your knee bent, almost like a lunge position. Lean forward to increase the stretch.

Strengthening Exercises

These exercises strengthen your abdominals and glutes.

Reverse Crunch

A reverse crunch is more effective in training the obliques when compared to a traditional crunch or sit-up, according to a 2006 study published in Physical Therapy, which pull your hips back, reducing the curve in your spine. In the study, the reverse crunch was performed on a 30-degree incline.

How To: Lie on your back on the floor in a crunch position. Hold a kettlebell or heavy object behind your head. Slowly roll your hips off of the mat, pressing your lower back down into the ground and squeezing your abs.

Man holding kettlebell performing reverse crunch in a gym.
This is the top position of the reverse crunch. (Image: Cherina Jones)

Single-Leg Bridge

This bridge variation targets one glute at a time, minimizing contribution of the lower back muscles. If the lower back muscles are too active in the movement they can take over for the glutes.

How To: Lie on your back with your feet planted. Grab one knee and pull it into your chest. Press down with your other foot and raise your hips off of the ground as high as you can.

Breathing Exercise

This exercise will help you realign your diaphragm to breathe better.

All-4's Breathing

This is similar to the Cat pose in yoga.

How To: Start on the ground on your hands and knees. Round your back and blow out through forcefully through your mouth. Keep your back rounded and breathe in through your nose. Exhale and inhale more times.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.