Lower Crossed Syndrome - Fixing Your Posture
Updated: Nov 1, 2023
As a follow up to Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS), we have, you guessed it, Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS). If you haven’t already read the blog on UCS, I highly recommend it as these two often go together. You can read it here.
What is Lower Crossed Syndrome?
No need to fret over the word ‘syndrome.’ Lower crossed, like upper crossed, is quite common - due to an imbalance of muscles. Lower crossed syndrome is one of the most common compensatory patterns. It is characterized by an anterior tilt to the pelvis (arched lower back). It is a side effect of a sedentary lifestyle, often showing up in the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and also coinciding with an excessive lower-back arch. Certain muscles are overused/tight, and others are underused/weak, creating a push pull situation. See the diagram below for visuals and involved muscle groups.
(Diagram 1: Involved muscle groups in LCS).
(Diagram 2: The two types of LCS. You can see how each has elements of UCS as well (refer to blog post about Upper Crossed Syndrome, UCS).
What causes Lower Crossed Syndrome?
The most common cause of LCS is poor posture, but can be caused by general poor health and/or physical condition. LCS is caused by the shortening and lengthening of muscles in the pelvic and lumbosacral region of the body. The name “Lower Cross Syndrome” stems from the visual of an X when viewing the muscles from a side view. Lower Cross Syndrome is often related to and caused by bad posture. It is caused by an increase in stress on these certain muscles. With improper posture, training, or low awareness on how to properly perform daily tasks, muscles can suffer from one-sided stress or high tension in certain areas.
What are symptoms of Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS)?
People with Lower Cross Syndrome often suffer from lower back pain or pain in the pelvic or hip joints. In addition to this, people will suffer from:
Reduced mobility or stiffness in lumbar, hip, hamstring, or pelvic region
Pain in hip flexors, groin, spine, or buttock muscles
Protruding stomach from an overly arched low back
Tension in the lower back and/or buttock muscles
Lower Crossed vs. Upper Crossed Syndrome?
Upper Cross Syndrome and Lower Cross Syndrome are similar conditions that exist in different parts of the body. As stated, LCS occurs in the lower lumbo-pelvic region. On the other hand, Upper Cross Syndrome occurs int the shoulders and neck. The tight muscles in Upper Cross Syndrome are the upper trapezius and levator scapula. Weakness occurs in the deep neck flexors and the lower trapezius.
How can I treat Lower Crossed Syndrome?
As far as treatment goes, we here at ANH Wellness would perform a focused exam of the pelvis and low back, which might include some muscle testing and orthopedic tests (if necessary). Typically though, UCS and LCS can be diagnosed based on observation, patient presentation, and history. Joint restrictions are very common with LCS, so we will adjust the joints that may be more restricted. Typically, it’s the lumbosacral junction and sacroiliac joints, but this can vary depending on the person. We will then prescribe strengthening exercises for the weak/underused muscles, and stretches for the tight/overused muscles. We may perform some manual muscle work to affected areas as well.
What things can I do at home for LCS?
Exercise can dramatically help treat Lower Cross Syndrome pain and the condition in general. These exercises are aimed at lengthening the tight muscles and strengthening the weak muscles in the cross to restore balance. To treat LCS, you must start by loosening the tight cross. To loosen your hip flexors, utilize foam rollers and other floor exercises that will stretch your tight muscles in this region. See below for some common exercises and stretches. Repetitions and sets vary depending on conditioning, so ideally these would be prescribed by a professional. We recommend going into any new exercise with caution and ease. You can add on sets/reps as needed. Always better to start with a minimum and add on if needed.
Here are a list of at-home stretches to ease LCS pain!
The Glute Bridge Exercise:
Remember to contract abdominal muscles and buttocks when coming in and out of the bridge. Some people like to hold for a few seconds at the top.
The Dead Bug Exercise:
This can take some coordination, but you can perform this just using the arms, or legs. Remember to keep the low back pressed into the floor/mat, and contract abdominal muscles.
Forward Bend Stretch:
This not only stretches the hamstrings, but relaxes the lower back muscles. Feel free to bend the knees if needed and hang for up to 20 seconds at a time. Remember to come out of this slowly. A seated version is shown below if you are concerned with balance.
Hip Flexor Stretch:
The more you lean forward, the deeper the stretch. Feel free to stabilize yourself using your arm on a chair, couch, table, etc. Hold for up to 20 seconds at a time.The more you lean forward, the deeper the stretch. Feel free to stabilize yourself using your arm on a chair, couch, table, etc. Hold for up to 20 seconds at a time.
LCS should not be left untreated. It is a chronic condition that can lead to a longer recovery or complicated changes to other joints. If these muscle are left untreated, the surrounding joints and muscles may progressively undergo changes. Strength, flexibility and range of motion subsequently decrease, which contributes to degenerative changes and pain in the lower back.
ANH Wellness can address these specific problems in the body. Our skilled providers can aid in eliminating pain at the source through manual treatment followed by specific strengthening and stretching exercises to help prevent injury while restoring strength and mobility!
By: Dr. Ary Laudeman
Chiropractor at ANH Wellness
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