Sway Back Posture
What's happening to my posture?
The Sway Back posture comprises elements of several distinctive alignment issues. The head, neck, and shoulders, display key characteristics of the forward head posture, with the upper back presenting with a strong thoracic kyphosis (exaggerated posterior curve or rounding of the spine), and the lower back with a decreased lumbar lordosis (a flattening of the curve of the lower back). The pelvis also shows an excessive posterior tilt (tilting under) – possibly affecting the degree to which the lower back can curve.
Head is too far forward
Neck has an increased curve
Shoulders are falling forward and down
Chest and Rib Cage: The Upper chest collapses, flattening out the chest wall. Chest also moves back and in.
Upper Back has an increased bend forward (Kyphosis).
Lower Back flattens out
Pelvis tilting under (Posterior tilt) and pushing forward.
Muscle Shortness - What's overworking?
Hamstrings - back of the thigh
Muscle weakness - What's too long?
Quadriceps - hip flexors
Upper back - Extensors
Front of neck - Neck flexors
Flat back posture Considerations:
Forward head and shoulder posture is evident
In some cases of Flat Back posture the lower back may appear with too much curve. This change is actually the pelvis and legs moving slightly forward relative to your upper body (especially the rib cage and shoulders) which are moving slightly back, creating the 'appearance' of more bend in the lower back than is actually present.
When considering how to improve this posture pattern, some emphasis should be placed on how the lower abdominals (especially the External Obliques) are functioning. Often with Sway Back Posture the lower abdominals are weak and therefore an obvious approach would be to strengthen them. On its own this will only partly help overall posture improvement. Additionally there will be the need to strengthen the muscles of the upper back in an attempt to simultaneously bring the natural curves of the spine into alignment.
As always, improving posture requires encouraging all the major segments of the body into alignment while working towards improving your posture.
Kendall, F.P., McCreary, E.K., & Provanc, P.G. (1993). Muscles, testing and function (4th ed). Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.
Here are some of the other common posture patterns: