When training with weights or any form of resistance there will, in most cases, be times where you will have to take a look at your posture to make sure that you are keeping it correct, and not putting it out of correct shape with your training. There are a number of posture problems you will have come across in day to day life that you could identify just by looking at people in the street. You will see people that are hunched over, with rounded shoulders, with legs that bend inwards or outwards, with unnatural curves to their spine and many other things. I am going to talk about a few of these problems in my articles and discuss ways in which you can rectify them.
The first problem I am going to talk to you about is Lordosis or ‘hollow back’. This basically just means the lumbar part of your spine curves inwards far more than it is supposed to. Your glutes will be pushed backwards and it will make you look like you have a ‘duck bum’ if you pardon the expression. Here is an image to show you:
As you can see the spine is on an unnatural arc. There are a few possible causes for this. One of the causes is an imbalance in the shape of the vertebrae, where one side is thicker than the other. This can come about during puberty. However this is not the reason we are interested in as it is not going to be caused by training and cannot be fixed with training correctly. The other cause of lordosis is a mixture of tight muscles and weak muscles. To cause hollow back you will most likely have very tight hip flexors and very weak hamstrings. You will also have very tight lower back and spinal erector muscles and weak abdominal muscles. This will lead to this posture problem becoming more pronounced.
So how can we fix it?
Well its just a matter of stretching the tight muscles and training the weak ones.
I will start with the stretches.
If you sit at a desk all day or adopt a seated position regularly (maybe you are a driver for a living etc) then it is likely your hip flexors will become tight. They are in a shortened position all day and therefore tighten up. You will notice when you get out of the car after a long journey you feel really tight and have to stretch out as you walk around for a while. So you see how adopting that position regularly for long periods could lead to tight hip flexors. To stretch the hip flexors you can try these 4 stretches:
you can do these before and after a workout or even at your home when you have a spare few minutes. I recommend if you have a job where you are sitting for long periods to do 10 minutes of these stretches every couple of hours if you can. After a while your hip flexors will become more flexible.
Instead of stretching, a very good way to release tension in your lower back would be to try foam rolling. It is a very useful technique and allows you to release and loosen tight muscles. To do the lower back simply take a look at this video:
Now that you have loosened the tight muscles you must strengthen the opposing muscles to help pull your posture back into place. Training the abs will help pull the hips forward. I recommend a nice simple abs exercise that I feel will suit this purpose very well. Hanging leg raises will strengthen the lower abs and help pull your body into the correct position.
You can then train the hamstrings and glutes to be stronger with a few different exercises. My personal favourite to do would be stiff leg deadlift:
So if you feel that you have a particular postural problem that looks to you like hollow back; if you get regular lower back pain and tightness in your back; then I recommend trying these few exercises to help you to get back into a correct and healthier postural alignment.