Tight lower back muscles and walking are two things you would rather not mention in the same sentence. At the beginning of most of my yoga classes I put people into my version of good posture. From my perspective, everyone leans backwards compressing the lower spine and chronically shortening the lower back muscles. So what I do is I walk around helping people’s thighs move back and their upper body move forward. After I stand everyone up straight I walk back to the front of the room and tell the class to return to where they were. Everyone leans backwards; it is quite the visual.
We are meant to walk, or fall, forward. Tight lower back muscles inhibit the body’s ability to move forward because they are always pulling the upper body backwards into their habitually tight position. This simple fact makes changing one’s movement patterns very difficult. Tight lower back muscles tend to be stubborn and unwilling to let go of their vice like grip on the lumbar spine. Depending on how tight someone is I can watch as they are literally pulled backwards by the tight muscles of the lower back.
What a conundrum—we lean backwards because of tight lower back muscles and we have tight lower back muscles because we lean backwards. To change these patterns you need to learn to walk correctly and do exercises that change the relationship between the muscles of the lower belly and the lower back.
The balance one has, or doesn’t have, in the muscles between the pelvis and the rib cage is a profound determinant of our posture. You can change this balance by learning to walk forward rather than backwards like the fellow in our picture above. You can also take a studied approach to building the core muscles. This can be especially hard because you have to figure out how to lengthen muscles that have probably been too short your entire life. It is a strange idea but it can be much easier to shorten a muscle than lengthen one. And many people create more problems for themselves by doing exercises without an action plan.
Tight lower back muscles and walking are two things you can stop saying in the same sentence if you learn how to walk correctly and move forward through life.