Hyperlordosis, simply referred to as lordosis, is an excessive inward curvature of the lower back, sometimes referred to as swayback.

It can occur in people of all ages and is more common in young children and women. It may occur in women during and after pregnancy, or in people who sit for extended periods of time.

Lordosis can cause symptoms like low back pain, nerve problems, and is associated with more serious conditions like spondylolisthesis. In some people, it’s caused by poor pelvis position.

When the pelvis tilts too far forward, it affects the curvature of the lower back, causing the person to look like they’re sticking their bottom out. A small amount of lordosis is normal, but an excessive curve can cause problems over time.

Lordosis is often due to an imbalance between the muscles surrounding the pelvic bones. Weak muscles used to lift the leg forward (hip flexors) combined with tight muscles used to arch the back (back extensors), can cause an increased pelvic tilt, limiting movement of the lower back.

One case study found that strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and abdominal muscles can assist in pulling the pelvis into proper alignment, improving lordosis. This can help decrease pain, increase function, and improve ability to do everyday activities with ease.

This exercise helps bring awareness to the position of the pelvis, as well as stretches and strengthens the abdominals and back extensor muscles.

Equipment needed: exercise ball

Muscles worked: rectus abdominis, gluteus maximus, and erector spinae

  1. Sit on an exercise ball with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, shoulders back, and spine neutral. Pick a ball that allows your knees to be at a 90-degree angle when you’re sitting with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Tilt your hips and round your lower back by contracting your abdominals. Feel as if you’re trying to bring your pubic bone to your bellybutton. Hold for 3 seconds.
  3. Tilt your hips in the opposite direction and arch your back. Feel as if you’re sticking your tailbone out. Hold for 3 seconds.
  4. Repeat 10 times, alternating directions.
  5. Complete 3 sets.

Strengthening the abdominals can contribute to better pelvic alignment in people with a forward tilted pelvis.

Equipment needed: mat

Muscles worked: rectus abdominis, transverse abdominus

  1. Lie flat on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your head or cross them over your chest.
  2. Breathe in. As you breathe out, pull your belly button to your spine, engaging your transverse abdominus muscles, the muscle that wraps around your midline like a corset.
  3. Raise your head and shoulders a few inches off the floor to do a crunch, while maintaining the contraction in your abdominals.
  4. Return to starting position, relax, and repeat 10 times.
  5. Complete 3 to 5 sets.

This dynamic core exercise helps people maintain a stable spine during movements of the legs and arms. It targets the transverse abdominus muscle, which is essential for spine stabilization.

Equipment needed: mat

Muscles worked: transverse abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm, and hip flexors

  1. Lie flat on your back with your arms and legs pointing straight up away from the body.
  2. Take a deep breath in and when you exhale, pull your bellybutton to your spine and feel as if you’re flattening your back toward the floor without moving the hips.
  3. Lower your left arm and right leg at the same time until they’re hovering a few inches above the ground.
  4. Return to starting position and repeat on other side. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Complete 3 to 5 sets.

This exercise can increase strength and stability in the muscles of the lower back and pelvic region, decreasing lordosis.

Equipment needed: mat

Muscles worked: gluteus maximus, hamstring, erector spinae

  1. Lie flat on your stomach with your arms comfortable by your side or tucked under your head. Extend your legs straight behind you.
  2. Take a deep breath. As you exhale, draw your belly button towards your spine, engaging your core muscles. Ideally you should feel as if you’re trying to lift your belly off the mat without moving the spine.
  3. While holding this contraction, lift one leg off the mat about 6 inches. Focus on engaging the large muscles of the buttocks.
  4. Hold for 3 seconds, return to starting position. Repeat 10 times.
  5. Repeat on other leg. Complete 3 sets on each side.

The hamstrings are the large muscles that run down the back of the thigh. Strong and flexible hamstrings can help support neutral pelvic alignment.

Equipment needed: resistance band

Muscles worked: hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris), calf muscles (gastrocnemius), and hip flexors (sartorius, gracilis, and popliteus)

  1. Tie a resistance band into a loop around a pole or sturdy object.
  2. Lie flat on your stomach with your feet a foot or two away from the pole.
  3. Loop the band around your ankle.
  4. Bend your knee and pull your ankle towards your buttocks away from the pole.
  5. Try to isolate the movement to the working leg, keeping everything else as still as possible. You should feel the movement down the back of the thigh.
  6. Repeat 15 times, then repeat on other side.
  7. Complete 3 sets on each side.

Correcting poor posture and excessive lordosis can prevent more severe conditions of the back and spine.

A 2015 study looked at the effects of lumbar stabilization exercises on the function and angle of lordosis in people with chronic low back pain. They found that stabilization exercises, like the ones described above, are more effective than conservative treatment for improving function and angle of curvature in the back.

Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure it’s right for you. If these exercises cause an increase in pain, stop immediately and seek help.

Pain or difficulty with movement associated with excessive lordosis can be a sign of a more serious condition and should be evaluated by a doctor or chiropractor. Rare cases of lumbar hyperlordosis may require surgery and cannot be treated with exercise alone.