The Importance of Reversal of Cervical and Lumbar Lordosis

What are Cervical and Lumbar Lordosis?

Humans are created with curves in various parts of their body, including the curves in the upper and lower back. It is quite normal for the area between the ribs and buttocks to be concave since this shape gives the spine a higher level of endurance against shock, but if the curvature or arch in the upper back is too pronounced or swaybacked, it could lead to various complications. The same goes for the curve at the back of the neck: a slight curve is normal, but sometimes when the neck curves excessively forward, it causes strain, pain, and other complications.

This excessive curve of the spine at the neck is known as cervical lordosis and is characterized by an exaggerated C shape of the upper back, right below the skull, while lumbar lordosis is a swaybacked curve of the lower spine that pushes the stomach forward. Below, you'll find information about what causes lordosis, what it looks like, and exercises to correct it.

Cervical (Neck) and Lumbar (Back) Lordosis
Cervical (Neck) and Lumbar (Back) Lordosis

What Causes a Curved Spine?

What causes cervical or lumbar lordosis? These factors include:

  • Slouching due to poor posture, especially when seated for a long period of time.
  • Heredity. Some people may inherit the genes that cause the degradation of the spinal column with age.
  • Trauma and stress.
  • Strain. This is common among people whose jobs involve a high level of manual labor.
  • Osteoporosis or the degradation over time of the bones in the spine.
  • Obesity. About 90% of obese people suffer from lordosis because their backs have been strained by carrying excess weight.

Though not everyone who has any of these predisposing factors develops cervical or lumbar lordosis, those who do have it need not lose hope. Lordosis can be reversed, though it will take a lot of time and effort to achieve results.

Bones Involved in Cervical and Lumbar Lordosis

The various treatments and therapies for the reversal of cervical or lumbar lordosis involve an understanding of the different parts of the spine, which include:

  • The Cervical Vertebrae, the part of the spine that goes from the skull to just above the shoulders.
  • The Thoracic Vertebrae, the part of the spine that goes from the shoulders to the middle of the chest area. This segment is normally convex (curved outward).
  • The Lumbar Vertebrae, the part of the spine located in the abdominal area. This segment is normally concave (curving outward).
  • The Sacrum, located in the pelvic area, normally convex.
  • The Coccyx or tailbone, the slight protrusion at the lower end of the spinal column in the buttocks. This is the part of the spine that first absorbs the impact of forcefully falling on one's behind.

Swayback, aka Lumbar Lordosis
Swayback, aka Lumbar Lordosis

Why Is Reversal of Cervical and Lumbar Lordosis Important?

Proper posture is not the only reason why reversal of cervical and lumbar lordosis is necessary. Other reasons include:

  • The spinal column is specifically designed to be curved in the right places and at the right degrees. Any excess or lack in the curvature of the spine could result to spinal injury since the vertebrae are no longer positioned at the right angle to absorb shock properly. Over time, the vertebrae become brittle and the individual runs the risk of developing diseases of the spinal column like degenerative disc or joint disease which cause pain and worse if left untreated.
  • Improper curvature of the spinal column could also result in an insufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. This may manifest in bouts of dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headaches, tinnitus, pain, and/or insomnia. A lordosis patient can suffer from hypertension, or moments of confusion due to impaired blood flow to the brain.
  • Reversal of cervical and lumbar lordosis is also necessary so the individual can avoid the risk of developing osteoporosis and other ailments characterized by a severely misaligned spine.

Lordosis has different effects on each individual. Some people may develop further health complications, while others are able to live out the rest of their lives with an overly curved spine. However, people with slight cases of cervical lordosis should not become overconfident. No one wants to end up in a spinal brace or have the problems extend down to their hips, arms, or legs.

Exercises to Improve Neck Spine Curvature and Neck Posture

Abnormal or excessive curvature of these areas of the vertebrae should not be a cause for too much worry since it can still be reversed. In mild cases, the reversal of cervical lordosis can be achieved by doing the following exercise routine daily:

  • Flexing the neck back and forth gently, as though in the act of nodding yes. Stretch your head forward and down so your chin tucks into your neck and you are looking at the floor, then slowly bring your head up again. This should be done sporadically throughout the day, five repetitions each time.
  • Retracting the neck while keeping a forward-facing stance: Stand straight, facing straight, and gently pull your head back an inch or two, just enough to feel the stretch, as if your jaw were on a flat shelf and you were sliding it back. This posture can be held for about five seconds before you slowly bring the chin forward to its normal position. Some people remark that they look like a chicken when they perform this exercise. This posture counteracts the stretched-forward neck position that is common among people who are suffering from cervical lordosis.
  • Lift your face to the ceiling, letting your head tilt back and keeping it at that position for about five seconds before gently bringing the head back to the upright position. Make sure you are standing straight and have your shoulders squared as you repeat this exercise 10 or 20 times, at least once a day.
  • Lying flat on the floor, flatten and push the back of your neck gently down towards the floor, then lift your head up off the floor about an inch so that you're looking down towards your feet. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower your head again, pressing your neck flat once again. Repeat 10 times. The stretching of the neck muscles on this step also helps alleviate headaches.

Do these exercises at least once a day. As you get stronger, more repetitions and sessions of each exercise can be added to your workout.

Gentle Neck Exercises to Correct Lordosis

Exercises to Improve Back Spine Curvature and Back Posture

  • Stretch Your Hip Flexor. A tightness at your hip flexor can cause the opposite group of muscles–your gluteal muscles– to weaken. Stretching your hip flexor is a good start towards pelvic alignment. Standing straight with your knees together, bend your right leg at the knee, bringing the right foot up towards your butt in back, and reach your right hand back to grab your ankle. Gently stretch your leg while tilting your hips forward and hold this stretched position for 25-30 seconds before repeating on your left side.
  • Work Your Gluteal Muscles. Lay down on your back on the floor facing with your knees up and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips about 5 inches off the floor (with your feet and shoulders bearing the weight), stretch your hip bones towards the ceiling, and squeeze your butt muscles. Hold for 10-15 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat 20 times.
  • Lower Back Stretch. Lying on the floor on your back, bring both knees up slowly to your chest and hold for 15-30 seconds before slowly bringing both legs back down to the floor. Repeat 5-10 times. When your knees are up and you're holding them, some say that gently rocking and pushing that sacral area into the floor helps.
  • Work Your Stomach. Abdominal muscles play a huge role in good posture. Lie down on the floor facing up, bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor, then flatten your spine by pushing your lower back into the floor. Supporting your head with your hands, lift your shoulders slowly off the floor to a 30 degrees angle and slowly back down. You should feel a slow crunching of your abdominal muscles. Repeat 10 times.
  • Work Your Sides. Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor. Drop both legs to the right slowly so that your spine is gently twisted and rest your right knee on the floor. Push your lower back arch back into the floor and hold it there for the duration of this exercise. Slowly lift both your shoulders off the floor a couple inches, hold for 5 seconds, and slowly lower both shoulders to the floor. Even though your right shoulder is higher, concentrate on lifting both shoulders. You should feel a crunching of your stomach muscles on the left side. Repeat 10-15 times and then repeat on your left side.

Do these exercises at least once a day. As you get stronger, more repetitions and/or sessions of each exercise can be added to your workout.

Exercises to Ease Lumbar Lordosis

Additional Help for Correcting Cervical and Lumbar Lordosis

If you have a hard time doing any of the exercises mentioned above, you can use support props like pillows to stabilize the area while you're exercising or sleeping. You can also use traction wedges and/or orthotics that are specifically designed to correct the exaggerated curve and help maintain a proper posture. You might also seek the aid of a chiropractor or a physical therapist who can offer guidance and reassurance.

There are a few cases wherein the cervical or lumbar lordosis has progressed to the point where surgery may be necessary for the reversal to be successful.

Which lordosis do you suffer from?

  • I have neck (cervical) lordosis.
  • I have back (lumbar) lordosis.
  • I have curves in my spine at both the neck and the back.
  • Neither--just curious!
See results without voting

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    Sree has been a nutritionist for over 8 years. She has written many articles educating people suffering from various diseases and ailments.

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