How To Prevent Swayback Syndrome

Back pain is no fun and in some instances can be debilitating, so if you suffer from constant back pain, what can you do?   It could be swayback syndrome.  So what exactly is swayback syndrome or what is lordosis?

The term lordosis refers to the normal inward curvature of the lumbar and cervical regions of the spine.  Excessive or hyper-lordosis can happen and lordosis and hyper-lordosis is commonly referred to as sway back, hollow back or saddle back, a term that originates from the similar condition that arises in some horses. This condition can commonly affect dancers. A major factor of lordosis is forward pelvic tilt when the pelvis tips forward when its resting on top of the thighs.

Individuals At Increased Risk
Research from Europe suggests swayback syndrome can develop early in life, as evidenced by it’s presence in elementary school children (Janda 1998).  Multiple factors contribute to the development of this condition, and heredity and a past history of injury can increase the risk.

Lack of movement, moving within a limited range and repetitive movement often lead to muscle imbalancesMuscle imbalances in the lumbopelvic region (hip area) can increase the risk of developing swayback syndrome.  But muscle imbalances distant to this region can also contribute to the problem.  For example, tight calf muscles can cause early toe-off during running and walking.  Early toe-off diminishes hip extension, potentially leading to tightness of the hip flexors and, ultimately, swayback posture.

People at greater risk of developing swayback include:
women in the third trimester of pregnancy
overweight individuals with a “pot belly”
athletes, particularly those in certain sports and team positions, such as female gymnasts and cheerleaders (who practice a posture that emphasizes lumbar lordosis), hockey players (who skate in a hip-flexed position), sprinters and offensive linemen in football
individuals who sit for long periods

Associated Injuries
Swayback syndrome can cause a number of painful conditions as stronger, dominant muscles overwork to compensate for weaker, passive muscles.  Spasms can develop in the hip flexors and lumbar extensors.  Hamstring strains are common, because the hamstring muscles compensate for a weak gluteus maximus.  Piriformis spasm, leading to sciatic discomfort, can result when the piriformis compensates for a passive gluteus medius.  And when substituting for a weak gluteus medius, the overworked tensor fasciae latae (one of the quadriceps muscles), may become tight and painful, which can also contribute to discomfort on down the IT band.

So, what can you do to alleviate pain and prevent this from happening?  First, enlist the services of a Biomechanical Corrective Exercise Specialist who is educated in the structural imbalance of the human skeleton.  They will be able to complete a complete structural assessment and then help you design a program that will include:
Myofacial Release techniques (self massage)
Strengthening exercises

For more information on how to alleviate pain caused from swayback syndrome, contact Maurie Cofman, AHFS, CES, TBMM-CES, personal trainer and TBMM Corrective Exercise Specialist in St. Louis, Brentwood, and Clayton, MO.