Lifting weights, working out, and focusing on your fitness are all about the correct posture and form.
When these things get out of whack or out of alignment it can wreak havoc on everything you try to do.
Whether you just want to have better posture or you’re unable to get into the right form for an exercise or move, dealing with a swayback posture can be detrimental to your health and wellness.
There are several different ways to change swayback posture but before you attempt to change things it’s important to know exactly what you’re dealing with and the best ways to address the issue.
You’ll be more ready to identify the issue, deal with it and create a healthier lifestyle in the process!
Imbalances in Muscle Groups
Everyone wants to work on different parts or muscle groups within their body when they hit the gym or start a new workout.
For some, the biggest focus is their abs and thinning down their waistline. For others, it may be getting those big biceps that you can brag about at the beach.
Whatever you want to shape up or trim down, you may end up with a severe imbalance if you focus on it too much.
There are so many different references in the world to people who skip leg day but this is a great example of muscle imbalances! These occur when you overwork one area and underwork another.
Skipping leg day may sound like a good way to let yourself have a break but it can leave you with severe muscle imbalances.
While many of these imbalances are simply cosmetic, they can lead to more severe structural issues within your body. Muscle imbalances can pull you one way or another and cause your bones and alignment to be out of whack.
The muscles that work around your joints can become overworked or end up working in opposite directions which can cause pain and stiffness in a hurry.
Working for these different muscle groups equally is one way to keep things in balance. Each group of muscles works in pairs, one responsible for pushing and another for pulling. The best way to keep working these muscles equally and avoid any imbalances is to work both sets within a range of motion.
Muscle imbalances can end up leading to more severe problems than just a drop in your self-esteem.
Your mobility may become limited and you may start to experience pain around your joints or where your overworked muscle groups pull too tightly. These may also start to seriously affect your ligaments, tendons, bones, and other connective tissue as well.
Swayback Risk Factors
Muscle imbalances are the starting point for major issues like swayback posture. This is an increase in the way the pelvis tilts moving it from a neutral and natural position to one that tilts posteriorly when compared to the thorax.
Several things make you more prone to swayback posture than others although it can happen due to several different things including poor postures that have become a habit and weakened muscles.
The most simple explanation of swayback is that it lengthens certain muscles within your body while shortening others and causing a swayback appearance within your posture. Most people will see their shoulders and chest leaning back while the pelvis and chin are thrust forward.
Often this happens due to a lack of support for the hips and pelvis and this ends up putting a lot of pressure on the lower back and can quickly lead to pain.
If your abs are weak, the problem can be exacerbated as the abdominals move the upper body forward and keep things in line.
If you’ve failed to work your butt, quad, and lower abs during your recent exercise routines, you may find yourself starting to lean toward this posture.
Many people who have started or continue to suffer from this posture often need a wall or other external object to lean on to stay upright. The entire posture is the exact opposite of the flat-back posture!
There are several things you can do to get your body out of this posture and into something more comfortable and functional!
You’ll be able to do these as part of your regular workout routine and adjust your muscle group imbalances and turn the clock back on your swayback posture overall.
The first thing you’ll want to do is get your body into the correct posture. Stand up tall using the muscles within your body to straighten upright.
Focus on moving your weight over your hips and spine rather than rounding back where it feels most comfortable. Take stock of where your body is and how you’re standing and slowly work toward correcting it over time.
During your workout, incorporate swimming the breaststroke or doing yoga poses like the superman, cobra, and upward dog. These will continue to strengthen those underworked muscles and push you toward better posture when you’re not working out.
This is a good time to take stock of how you’re holding your body again and actively work to correct it. This correction will work the small muscles around the muscle groups and keep your body training even when your workout ends.
If necessary, use back supports that have an arched shape. This will continue to push your muscles and joints into the correct shape and position that you need to get rid of your swayback posture.
Be actively trying to move your body into a better form throughout the day and use those back supports as needed.
Sit deep back in your chair throughout the day and keep your back straight and your chin facing ahead. Many people tend to slump in their chair at work or throughout the day but be actively correcting yourself each time you see yourself slip. This will keep working those muscles outside of the gym!
Your butt does more than cushion your fall if you slip on the ice! Train and build up the muscles in your glutes and quads with half squats so you’ll be more balanced for that better posture throughout the day. Strong butt muscles help you stand up straighter.
The other problem area that can cause swayback is the lower abs. Work these with simple leg lifts and reverse crunches among other moves so you can stand up without pain or stiffness throughout your regular day.
Swayback Posture Treatment
There are lots of little ways that you can start to correct your swayback posture while going through your workout or your day. But if you need a little more help to get things back in line, your physical therapist or chiropractor will do a few more concentrated things to treat the issue.
The first thing they’ll do is guide your pelvis back to stack straight in line with your spine. This is a major adjustment and often the first step they’ll take when they diagnose swayback in you.
This professional will also move your thorax forward which will put your entire upper body in a neutral position again. You’ll probably feel some immediate relief with less pressure and pain in your lower back!
The follow-up exercises and visits with your physical therapist will start teaching your body to stay in this position naturally. This takes time and lots of patience so don’t be surprised if it takes a while to see big changes in your posture.
Swayback Vs. Lordosis
Swayback is characterized as a misalignment of your pelvis with your spine while another condition, lordosis, is an exaggerated curve of the spine.
The most common form of lordosis is lumbar lordosis or excessive curvature of the lower spine.
This is common for many people but when it becomes even more exaggerated, it can cause major issues. While lumbar lordosis is a feature of swayback, not all lordosis is swayback posture.
You’ll most likely have a little bit of lordosis in your spine but when it becomes a major curve, you’ll need some correction to have a pain-free and normal life.
There are several major causes of this curvature and they run the gambit from being overweight to genetic issues like achondroplasia or aging issues like osteoporosis. This can affect people of any age so it’s important to keep an eye out for it throughout your life.
The most commonplace to see this occur is in the lower spine and it can cause pain when moving or affect your overall ability to move.
If you lie down on a hard surface, there’s a good chance you have lordosis if there’s a space between the lower back and the surface you’re laying on.
The curve of your spine may be flexible and reverse itself when you bend forward. If this is the case, there’s no reason to intervene medically. However, if the curve doesn’t change when you bend forward the lordosis itself may be permanent and intervention and treatment are called for.
Fixes for Lordosis
If you suspect you or someone you know is suffering from this issue, the first thing you’ll want to do is go see a medical professional. They’ll be able to do all of the tests needed to diagnose it for sure and begin treatment to help with pain or swelling.
The first step many professionals do is give you drugs that will help bring down the pain or swelling that may be associated with the issue. These can run the range from mild to more serious drugs depending on the pain and swelling that you’re experiencing.
The next step to fix this issue is to get you started on a round of physical therapy. Physical therapists will help you work toward getting a full range of motion again and increase your strength as well as flexibility throughout the entire area.
You may also need braces which will help to control the extent of the curvature of your spine. This is more common with children and teens as they’re still growing and their bones remain flexible.
Older adults may also find themselves in a brace or support that will help limit the curve. These braces will need to be worn for a significant amount of time to work and with great consistency!
One of the main causes of lordosis is weight gain and being overweight. Your medical professional and physical therapist may have you begin working to lose weight to help solve the issue. You’ll be able to create a plan that will put you on the fast track to losing weight and keeping it off.
With the extra weight gone, your lordosis may start to correct itself over time, and with a few added helps from professionals, you’ll soon be standing straight again.
If things have progressed and become both permanent and severe, surgical intervention may be required to solve the problem. Artificial discs or kyphoplasty are both equipment and procedures that are often used when this curve becomes too severe.
Your doctor will be able to help advise you on what the best choice might be and what course of treatment will help get you back on track.
With the help of your doctor and physical therapist, you’ll be able to come up with several workouts and exercises that will help you correct and train your spine to get rid of the lordosis!
Be sure to consult with them to ensure you’re healthy enough to complete these workouts and keep things progressing without unnecessary setbacks.
The main focus of your workouts is going to be your core and hips! Some of the best moves are simple ab crunches that activate the transverse abdominals.
You’ll only need a mat or clear area to get this move done. Start by laying flat on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. You’ll put your hands behind your head or cross them over your chest.
Breathe in and as you breathe out you’ll pull your belly button toward your spine which will engage your TA muscles. You’ll then raise your head and shoulders off the floor a few inches to do a crunch. You’ll keep doing this for 3-5 sets and your muscles should be engaged t entire time.
Another move you can do is called Dead Bugs. You’ll start this move by laying flat on your back with your arms and legs pointing away from your body. As you take a deep breath in and then exhale pull your belly button down toward your spine.
You’ll feel like you’re flattening your entire back toward the floor and you’ll keep your hips in place. Lower your left arm and right leg at the same time and let them hover above the ground just a few inches. Return to your starting position and repeat with the other side.
Through just a few simple exercises and changes to your posture, you can correct a less severe type of lordosis.
If things are too severe your doctor may need to intervene. But these simple changes can keep things from getting worse and you’ll be able to have pain and stiffness-free life!
Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a bachelor’s degree in medicine from Alexandria university and is a practicing plastic surgeon. He’s our expert on all things nutrition, medicine, rehabilitation, and flexibility. Dr.Ahmed has been a medical content writer for more than 11 years and his work reached top publications such as the HuffingtonPost