Lordosis is the medical term that describes the natural inward curve or “arch” in your lower back. While there’s nothing abnormal about lordosis, an excess arch or “hyper-lordosis” is a common cause of back pain and protruding gut amongst lifters who spend many hours sitting or working behind a computer like I do.
As you can see in the picture on the right below, with hyper-lordosis your pelvis is tilted forward which causes your abs and glutes to stick out. Meanwhile, the excess arching compresses the back of your spinal discs. This can cause back pain when standing or sitting. But it can also cause lower back pain when you Squat and Deadlift. This can result in lower back injuries like herniated discs.
How to Eliminate Your Hyper-Lordosis. For guys the 2 main causes of hyper-lordosis are almost always too much sitting and excess body-fat. When you sit a lot, you hip flexors shorten which pull your pelvis forward as a result. Similarly, excess belly fat will pull your pelvis to the front and also make it tilt. Solutions:
- Lose Your Belly Fat. Start by eating healthier: less junk food/soda, less carbs, and more whole foods (beef, chicken, tuna, veggies). Couple this with StrongLifts 5×5 3x/week to boost your metabolism and you’ll gain muscle while losing fat and strengthening your abs.
- Stretch Your Hip Flexors. Daily exercises like the warrior lunge stretch for sets of 15 seconds will stretch these muscles tight from sitting. Quick trick: squeeze the glute of your back leg for a bigger stretch.
- Stretch Your Upper-body. Hyper-lordosis is almost always coupled with slouching shoulders so you need to fix that also. Get a resistance band and do daily shoulder dislocations for 3 sets of 10 reps.
- Squat Correctly. Prevent lower back pain by pushing your abs out and your knees to the side when you Squat. The former will prevent excess arching, the latter will involve your glute muscles more.
- Sit Less. Hard to impossible for most guys due to the nature of our job, but at least get up as much as you can and avoid sitting when you’re not working (wait in queues standing, eat standing at home, etc)
Below: before/after picture of a StrongLifts Member who eliminated his hyper-lordosis in 21 days by simply stretching his tight hip flexors several times a day using the method above.
That’s no photoshop in the right picture, he was just sucking his gut in. If you look at his lower back and shoulders it’s clear there’s a huge improvement – his hyper-lordosis is gone and his upper-back is straighter.