Lower Back Curve Exercise

Lumbar spine depiction
Lumbar spine depiction. SEBASTIAN KAULITZK/Collection:Science Photo Library/Getty Images

Lower Back Curve Exercise

Your spine has curves in five areas (neck, upper back, low back, sacrum and coccyx). Three main curves are located in the neck, upper back and low back; they are instrumental for body balance. The bottom end of your spine (your sacrum) is wedged in back between the two hip bones that comprise the pelvis. Because of this location, the movements you make with your pelvis very much affect what happens in your spine.

 

One very important thing you can do to increase your postural awareness in the area is to become aware of your low back curve. Here's how:

  1. Sit on a firm chair or stool.   Place yourself so that your weight is planted into the seat in a balanced way. A more challenging position for this exercise is standing against a wall. (I'd recommend starting with sitting and over time graduating yourself to standing.)
  2. Hold onto the arms of your chair. If your chair doesn't have arms, hold onto the edge of your desk or the sides of the chair seat. This will help you support your back as you move your pelvis. Many of us lack core abdominal strength, which is key to preventing back injury. If this sounds like you, you'll likely need the extra support that comes from bracing yourself with your arms and hands.
  3. You're now ready for the movement.  Tilt your pelvis forward. This means that when you’re done with this movement, the top of your pelvis (your hip bones)  will be forward of the bottom. While in this position, notice the (slightly) exaggerated arch in your low back, and any accompanying increase in low back muscle tension. A moderate amount of this increase and exaggeration is normal.
  1. Relax back to the start position, in which you are sitting upright, with hip bones/top of the pelvis directly above the bottom
  2. Next, tilt your pelvis back. This means that when you’ve completed the movement, the top of your pelvis (hip bones)will be in back of the bottom.  Your abs may have to work hard to support you in this position, so as mentioned in Step 2, don't hesitate to help yourself by bracing your hands against your chair. Check your lumbar curve area, noticing if it has flattened out a bit. Also notice the tension levels in the back muscles.  Are they perhaps a little looser than at the end of Step 3?  If so, this is normal.
  1. Relax back up to the start position, where you are sitting upright.
  2. Repeat the sequence again. This time when you’re in the forward position (from Step 3,) pause briefly and try to slide your hand between your low back spine and the back of the chair or the wall. You should be able to do this. And when you’re in the backward position (from Step 5,) most likely there will be little to no space between your low back and the seat back or wall.
  3. If you have problems moving your pelvis back and forth, you might imagine that it is a basket or bowl of vegetables. Like a bowl or basket, the pelvis has a round shape, which is open at the top. Imagine the vegetables are placed toward the front of that bowl and their weight tends to bring the bowl (pelvis) into a forward tilt. To go back, imagine that the vegetables in the basket are placed toward the back. Their weight causes the basket to roll backward.  This may help you get the hang of the movement.

Low Back Curve Exercise - Helpful Tips & Bits of Info:

  1. Turn this posture awareness exercise into a posture muscle builder by doing it with your back against the wall. Keep your heels against the baseboard - this will make your abs really work!
  1. Warm up by doing pelvic tilts while lying supine.
  2. Common postural abnormalities (that are often addressed with specific exercises) include too much low back curve and forward tilt, and too little. Too little low back curve is called flat low back posture.
  3. If you want to work other areas of your posture, try this Posture Exercise series.

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