While the cause of pain is often multifactorial, one area worth taking a second look is your postural alignment and how lower crossed syndrome may be playing a role. In today’s technologically-driven world, it’s no surprise that many of us have fallen victim to poor posture and the negative effects of prolonged sitting. The reality is sitting at a desk for long work hours is required of most careers these days and over time, this can lead to a muscle imbalance called lower crossed syndrome.
What is Lower Crossed Syndrome, you ask?
Lower crossed syndrome is an imbalance in our muscular system characterized by tightness in our hip flexors and lower back, with concurrent weakness in our abdominals and glutes. Our hip flexors and low back can become tight for a whole host of reasons, but sitting for a significant portion of the day can be a driving factor.
These muscles over time may become shortened and overactive which will pull our pelvis and lumbar spine into poor alignment. This alignment then leads to weakness in the abdominal and gluteal muscles, which will become lengthened and under active. Weakened abdominal and gluteal muscles will further exacerbate the issue by failing to provide the necessary stability and support for the lower back and pelvis.
The Pelvis is the Pedestal
If this muscle imbalance persists, our pelvis will become tilted anteriorly and the natural the curve in our lumbar spine becomes exaggerated. Given that the pelvis serves as the foundation for our spine, misalignment in this crucial area can substantially impede our entire range of motion. It’s noteworthy that lower crossed syndrome frequently coexists with upper crossed syndrome, so if you haven’t read Dr. Charlotte’s article on that topic click here to check it out.
The Impacts of Lower Crossed Syndrome
Lower crossed syndrome can contribute to low back pain, hip pain, and even knee pain according to an article in the PT Journal. But if pain is not present – that doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. Poor postural alignment decreases our body’s ability to stabilize itself while performing movement and a sub-optimal movement system in turn reduces our athletic performance which sets us up for potential injury. Yikes!
What can we do about it?
For starters, try setting reminders to take breaks from prolonged sitting throughout the work day. And maybe take a short walk during your lunch break instead of scrolling through your phone. Ultimately, it’s essential to restore balance to the muscular system.
Here are 4 key areas to target:
1. Stretching of the hip flexors
2. Strengthening of the abdominals
3. Mobilizing the low back
4. Activating the gluteal muscles
For those struggling with persistent pain or difficulty in correcting posture, consulting a physical therapist may be beneficial. Here at Alpine Fit PT, we provide personalized guidance, tailored exercises, and hands-on treatments to address your specific imbalances. Don’t let lower crossed syndrome hold you back from living a healthy, pain-free life.
Below are links to some of my favorite exercises to address these areas:
Eccentric Thomas stretch with weight
Stir the Pot
Cat Cow to Child’s Pose
While most people will get a lot of helpful information from this article alone, this is just a brief overview of lower crossed syndrome and you may require a more holistic look at the issue concerning your body.
If you’ve had back and hip tightness for a while, you might need a little extra help! Click here to book a FREE Discovery Visit with one of our expert Doctors of Physical Therapy today to discuss how we can get you back to pain free and living your life.