As we know that a typical spine has its natural curvature, however, many factors can cause changes to the curvature. We have talked about hyperkyphosis of the thoracic spine in our previous posts. Whereas we will focus on lumbar hyperlordosis today. Hyperlordosis, also known as ‘swayback’, refers to the condition of excessive curvature in the lower back, or lumbar region, where the spine curves inwards above the buttocks.
What causes hyperlordosis? Bad posture and prolonged sitting are the common causes. There are also factors contributing to the exaggerated curvature, including spondylolisthesis, obesity, osteoporosis, and more. Besides, the prevalence of swayback is very high among gymnasts. Their buttocks usually appear to be more prominent, while the abdomen may protrude because of the increasing lordosis. It often results in an anterior pelvic tilt due to tightness of hip extensors and weakness over the hip flexors and core muscles. This muscular imbalance is referred to as ‘lower cross syndrome’. It can be easily diagnosed with a simple physical exam. Some professionals may require x-rays to further determine if there are any underlying issues.
As the lordotic angle increases the anterior shear force and shifts the center of gravity anteriorly. The force would transmit to the bottommost vertebrae, leading to lower back pain. They may also experience muscle spasms, numbness which neurological aspects are affected. Treatments for swayback posture depend on the severity of the curvature. Physiotherapists can provide techniques and exercise programs to correct the lower cross syndrome and prevent the worsening of the curvature. In more severe cases, patients might need surgeries to avoid causing additional problems.
Stay tuned to learn more correction exercises to avoid lumbar hyperlordosis!