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Understanding Lower Crossed Syndrome

January 10, 2018

 

 

Lower crossed syndrome describes the imbalance of muscle strength and tone in the musculature of the pelvic girdle/lumbosacral region of  the body. This condition is given its name because an “X,” in other words a cross, can be drawn across the lower body. One arm of the cross indicates the muscles that are typically tight/overly facilitated and the other arm of the cross indicates the muscles that are typically weak/overly inhibited.

 

 The side effects of a sedentary lifestyle often show up in the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, which produces an increased forward tilt of the pelvis that coincides with an excessive lower-back arch. Holding this static position constantly can create or contribute to muscle imbalances in the pelvic region. Unfortunately, this uneven pull of muscles has effects beyond the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex, strongly influencing the regions above and below as well.

 

 

 

Causes:
  • Prolonged sitting, particularly with bad posture
  • Physical inactivity
  • Regular performance of sports and activities that involve an uneven stimulation of the muscles that are involved in LCS
  • Poor exercise technique .
  • Imbalanced strength training (e.g., a lot more lower back and/or hip flexor training than glute and/or abdominal training)
  • Genetic predispositions

The overactive, shortened and tight muscles include (but are not limited to) the 
• hip flexor complex (psoas, rectus femoris, tensor fascia latae) 
• adductor complex 
• latissimus dorsi 
• erector spinae 
• gastrocnemius 
• soleus 

    Conversely, the underactive, lengthened and weak muscles include (but are not limited to) the 

• gluteus maximus 
• gluteus medius 
• transversus abdominus 
• internal oblique 
• anterior tibialis 
• posterior tibialis 

 


 From a side view of the body, you can see that the back-side latissimus dorsi and erector spinae (overactive) are above the gluteus maximus, medius (underactive). Meanwhile the front side has the transversus abdominus and internal oblique (under active) above the hip flexor complex (overactive). This pattern of pulling the overactive muscles promotes and exacerbates lower-back arch, while the weakened and lengthened muscles allow it to happen. 

 

    In an age where careers, communication and recreation depend on stationary and handheld digital technology, people are likely to sit more and exercise less compared to past decades. This increasingly sedentary lifestyle means two things: the weak muscles will continue to get weaker while the short muscles get shorter and tighter. As this imbalance persists, it will increase joint malalignments and movement dysfunction while decreasing joint range of motion—increasing the likelihood of pain and injury. 

    We see this in the low back and pelvic region when somebody’s posture shows an excessive low back arch with an excessive forward or anterior tilt of the pelvis. Pains and discomfort from this posture go beyond the lower back, promoting stress and strain to the knees and hamstrings. This happens because of the femur’s connection via the hip flexor complex, gluteal complex and adductor complex. Overactive muscles cause unequal, unbalanced lines of pull, forcing joints and adjacent muscles like the hamstrings to work harder to stabilize and counter these unintended forces. 

 

Symptoms may include

  • Increased curve (lordosis) of the lower back

  • Tight hip flexor muscles (Iliopsoas)

  • Weak abdominals and bottom muscles (Gluteals)

  • Tight hamstrings (posterior thigh muscle)

  • Pain and tightness of the bottom of the lower back.

  • A forward tilt of the Pelvis (duck bum) with an increased curve of the lower back. this is referred to as lumbar lordosis. (Check the belt line). 

  • Flat or hanging gluteal muscles (the buttocks should be firm and round) 

  • Over-developed hamstrings in relation to Gluteal muscles. 

  • Forward head posture and an increased curve.

  • Pain in the SI joint

  • Hip pain

  • Knee Pain

  • Knee hyperextension

  • Ankle pain

  • Bulging ( not necessarily fat) abdominal muscles

 

 

 

Steps to correct Lower Crossed Syndrome include

 

Step 1 -Evaluation from a qualified health or fitness professional. Many times lower cross syndrome is the result of improper exercise techniques. to avoid any further complications it is best to have a qualified professional assist you when learning the proper way to strengthen and strength the affected muscles



Step 2- Inhibit/Self-Myofascial Release using a foam roller or similar device on overactive muscles such as the adductor complex (inner thigh) and rectus femoris (quads) .

 

Step 3 -Static Stretching to lengthen the shortened overactive muscles 
 

Step 4 -Activate/Strengthen the weak underactive muscles by performing exercises that will increase strength and activity in the muscles that have not been working hard enough to counter the previously overactive muscles. 

    

 

 

 

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