Lower Crossed Syndrome; Revisited
Let’s look back at Lower Crossed Syndrome and review some important facts.
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.
Treatment of Lower Crossed Syndrome
Treatment is specific to several areas of the body that will aid in reduction of symptoms and correction of the problem. We will break up these regions and discuss them separately in order to explain in detail what we’re trying to achieve. The first area of treatment will focus on the muscles that are weak; the gluteals (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus) and abdominal muscles. The second area of treatment will focus on the muscles that are tight; the hip flexors (rectus femoris and iliopsoas) and lumbar erector spinae. Remember, our goal is to achieve muscular balance. Balance is key to overcoming LCS.
Correcting Weak Gluteal and Abdominal Muscles
One of the main causes of Lower Crossed Syndrome is sitting. When we sit, our gluteal and abdominal muscles become inactive and weak. Weakness creates instability, improper function, muscular imbalance and pain. To address weakness in these muscles, we will start by introducing the plank exercise.
Start by lying on your stomach with your forearms and legs parallel to the floor and your head aligned with your spine in a neutral position (looking at the floor). Push yourself up into a push-up position keeping your forearms on the floor. Be sure to “squeeze” and tighten your gluteal and abdominal muscles. Try to hold this position for 10-20 seconds. Relax and repeat 3-4 times.
The next exercise we will introduce is the side plank, a variation of the plank exercise. Lie on your right side with your legs straight and the left leg stacked directly on top of the right. Bend the right elbow and place is directly under your shoulder. Align your head with your spine and keep your hips and right knee in contact with the exercise mat. Lift your hips and knees off the mat. The side of your right foot stays in contact with the mat. Keep your head aligned with your spine and your right elbow positioned directly under your shoulder.
Correcting Tight Hip Flexors and Lumbar Erector Spinae
Accompanying weakness in the abdominal and gluteal regions are tight hip flexors (iliopsoas and rectus femoris) and lumbar erector spinae muscles. The goal of treatment is to stretch/lengthen and strengthen these short and weak muscles and ultimately restoring muscular balance. The first exercise is the forward lunge.
Stand with your feet about 6 inches apart from each other toes pointed forward. Step forward with one leg and lower your body to 90 degrees at both knees. Don’t step out too far. There should be approximately 3 feet between your feet at this point. Keep your weight on your heels and don’t allow your knees to cross the plane of your toes. Keep your back upright. Place your hand on a chair or wall or balance if necessary. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds.
The next exercise to address tight lumbar erector spinae is a yoga position called the downward facing dog.
Place your hands and feet on the floor and begin in a plank position. Shift your weight back toward the wall behind you. This will cause your hips to rise up in the air forming an inverted V position. Your head should be aligned with your spine or slightly tucked. Do not to lift the head. Press your heels toward the floor. If your hamstrings are tight, you may allow a slight bend in the knees. Work toward straight knees, reaching the heels toward the floor. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat two to three times.
These exercises are fantastic and will help correct Lower Crossed Syndrome, however, there’s one big piece of the puzzle missing. ADJUSTMENTS! Because LCS puts a great deal of strain and tension on the joints in the lumbar spine, it is essential to get adjusted. Adjustments will reduce joint tension, increase range of motion, lubricate the joints and restore proper function altogether. And most importantly, you’ll feel a whole lot better!
By performing these exercises throughout the day, it is possible to reduce symptoms of LCS and over time, resolve the problem completely. When sitting at a computer at work or at home, be sure to stand up once every thirty minutes and perform these exercises. These exercises incorporated into your daily routine can help reduce or resolve migraine headaches, joint pain, muscular imbalance and arthritis.