Curvy back: sexy or risky? Is your back curve part of chronic lower back pain – from a physical therapist - Be My Healer
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Curvy back: sexy or risky? Is your back curve part of chronic lower back pain?

curvy back sexy or risky causing chronic lower back pain

I have a typical Asian woman’s body. In other word, not curvy.

Do I admire those women who have more curves, dents and grooves built into their physiques? Of course I do. We all want things we don’t have.

However, as a physical therapist, I know it takes a lot of effort to maintain a healthy lower back curve. And the majority of people may have adapted posture with fixed in anterior pelvic tilt, which makes them look more curvy in the lower back. This adapted posture may exposes your back to some risks of chronic lower back pain and acute lower back injuries.

Lower back stiffness: curve that does not reverse

If you are wondering about whether you have the “risky curve”, you can take a closer look at your lower back curve.

Find a dressing mirror and stand side-ways in front of it.

lumbar lordosis

image source:

Examine your pelvis orientation. Is your pubic bone facing down? (In another word, does your big shinning belt buckle faces down, especially if you are wearing low rise jeans?)

Then, get someone to help you.

Bend forward to touch your toes. Ask your helper to check your lumbar spine (the 2-3 inches of your curviest segment). When you bend all the way, is the lumbar spine rounded up in conformity of the rest of the spine, or it is flat like a tabletop, or did the lower back curve stay stiff and curved down even though the rest of your spine is rounded the opposite way?

stiff lumbar curve stuck in lordosis

Image source: 3d medical education

If your answers to the questions above are:

  • Yes, by pubic bone or belt buckle points down
  • And my friend says my lower back is flat like a tabletop, or stiff and the curve does not reverse

You posture may put you at risk for pain in lower back. Or, you may feel the stiffness in your lower back turning into achiness from time to time. This condition is called the lower body cross syndrome.

What to do? What to do?

My recommendation is to start with the following stretches and exercises that help reverse the anterior pelvic tilt posture.

You can read more details on the infamous hip flexor muscle and its relationship with lower back. This post also describes two more ways to stretch the iliopsoas muscle.

The iliopsoas stretch, or hip flexor stretch

hip flexor stretch floor
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch...
  • If you are stretching the right iliopsoas muscle, kneel with your right knee either on the floor or a knee height surface.
  • Take a large step forward with your left leg and bend your left knee.
  • Straighten up your back in good posture and suck your belly button towards your spine as far as you can.
  • You should now feel a stretch in the front of your right hip anywhere between above hip level to mid-thigh.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and relax. Then switch to stretch the opposite side.

NOTE: If you experience a pinching pain in your lower back during the stretch, try to pull your belly button in really tight. If the pain is still there, try the stretch in a different position, or try back later after some abdominal muscle strengthening.

Both Knees To Chest (BKTC) Stretch
both knee to chest stretch
Knees to chest stretch...
  • Lay down on a firm surface, facing up.
  • Fold your hips so that your knees are brought up to your chest. Use your hands to hold them there.
  • You should feel a stretch along your spine from your lower back .
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat twice.

If you have shoulder pain or heavy legs, not a problem. You can scoot your bottom up against a wall, and rest your feet on the wall.

Frequency: Stretch 2-5 times per day, as long as you still feel the stretch.

Posterior pelvic tilt exercise
posterior pelvic tilt
  • Lay down on a firm surface, facing up, knees bent and feet comfortably rested on the surface. Try to put your hands underneath the curve of your back and relax.
  • Once in the proper position, pull in your belly button and press your lower back into your hands. At this time, please note to NOT lift your hips, you head or shoulders up. Your buttocks, feet, shoulders and head should all be relaxed.
  • Once you feel the pressure on your hand and the curve in your lower back flattening up, hold the contraction for 10 seconds, and repeat 10 times.

Frequency: Perform this exercise 1-2 times per day, for 1-2 weeks.

Other ways you can address your lower back stiffness is to see a massage therapist or a chiropractor (preferably both) to unlock the extended lumbar spine. If you are already experiencing lower back pain, the best people to see is a physical therapist.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful. 

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