Lower Crossed Syndrome (Part I)
Lower Crossed Syndrome
Each year, millions of people suffer from a condition known as Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS). Sedentary lifestyles, excessive hours working at a desk or computer, postural changes and even improper weightlifting can lead to LCS. Lower Crossed Syndrome occurs when there is muscular imbalance in the low back, legs, buttocks and the abdominal region. Over time if left untreated, this condition can lead to more serious problems such as early degenerative (arthritic) changes.
How Lower Crossed Syndrome Occurs
Lower Crossed Syndrome occurs when the gluteals (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus) and abdominal muscles become weak or inhibited and the hip flexors (rectus femoris and iliopsoas) and lumbar erector spinae become tight or facilitated. Forward tilt of the pelvis, increased lordosis (curve) in the lumbar spine and tight hamstrings are also characteristics of LCS.
Reciprocal inhibition occurs when the agonist (muscle causing movement) contracts, and the antagonist (muscle opposing movement) relaxes. In order for movement to occur, a muscle on one side of a joint contracts and the opposing muscle on the other side relaxes.
Prolonged contraction in muscles causes prolonged relaxation in opposing muscles. When we look at Lower Crossed Syndrome, muscular imbalance is caused by chronic facilitation and inhibition of muscles. Muscles that are in a constant state of contraction are weak and opposing muscles in a constant state of relaxation are weak as well.
Anatomical Characteristics of Lower Crossed Syndrome
Tight erector spinae and tight hip flexors (iliopsoas and rectus femoris) will result in forward pelvic tilt and increased lordosis (curve) in the lumbar spine. Weak abdominal muscles and weak gluteals will result in tight hamstrings (due to overuse and compensation for weak gluteals) and joint dysfunction at L4-L5, L5-S1, SI joints and hip joints. People with Lower Crossed Syndrome often times will appear to be hunched forward at the waist and show difficulty when standing up after being seated for prolonged periods of time.
Symptoms of Lower Crossed Syndrome
Low back pain, pain in the hips, sciatica and muscle soreness and tightness in the legs and low back are common symptoms experienced when dealing with LCS. Trigger points in the lumbar erector spinae, gluteals, iliopsoas, rectus femoris and hamstrings are common objective findings that are located by palpation of these muscles. Pain and discomfort at L4-L5, L5-S1, SI joints and hip joints are common areas to find joint restrictions.
In part II we will discuss treatment options for Lower Crossed Syndrome.