In this video Dr. Casey Crisp explains the basics of Lower Cross Syndrome. He discusses the causes of the injury and describes specific exercises you can do to strengthen weaker muscles and relieve pressure on tight/overworked muscles — minimizing pain associated with the condition and helping prevent further injury. By targeting pain directly at the source and working to strengthen weak muscles, Airrosti eliminates the pain in an average of just three visits. Learn more about Airrosti’s unique approach here.
WHAT IS LOWER CROSS SYNDROME?
Lower cross syndrome (LCS) is a muscular imbalance that results in postural changes, which can lead to lower back pain over time. LCS is often caused by an overly sedentary lifestyle and/or poor posture. Prolonged sitting or injury can lead to development of shortened hip flexor muscles, and that leads to tightened lower back muscles. The tightened hip flexors eventually lead to weakened abdominal/core muscles, along with weakened gluteal/butt muscles.
Postural effects of this condition are seen by an increased forward tilt of the pelvis that coincides with an excessive lower-back arch. However, this uneven pull of muscles has effects beyond the lumbo-pelvic-hip region. When this happens, your back muscles and hamstrings have to work harder, which can lead to low back and hamstring injuries.
WHAT CAUSES LOWER CROSS SYNDROME?
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.
Often, Lower Cross Syndrome is solely linked to bad posture, but it can also be caused by general poor health or physical condition.
What Muscles are Lengthened in Lower Cross Syndrome?
Lower cross syndrome happens when there is muscular dysfunction between weak and tight muscles. The tight muscles are generally the hip flexors, and weak muscles are the abdominals and gluteal muscles. Shortening occurs in the hip flexors while weakening occurs in the abdominals and gluteal muscles.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS FOR LOWER CROSS SYNDROME?
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 CROSS VS. UPPER CROSS 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 EXERCISE HELP WITH LOWER CROSS SYNDROME?
Exercise can dramatically help treat Lower Cross Syndrome pain and the condition in general. These exercises are aimed at lengthening the tight muscles and strengthen 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.
When strengthening the weak muscles, the abdominal and gluteal muscles, try exercises like hip raises. Hip raises are completed on the ground and require a raise of the hips with feet on the floor, hold the position for 3 seconds, and then a return to rest.
Alternating exercises of this nature will excel the recovery process.
Lower Cross Syndrome Stretches
A hip flexor stretch is proven effective in loosening tight muscles. Complete this stretch by adopting a lunge position and keeping your body in an upright position. Take hold of the back foot and gently raise the foot. This will result in a stretch in the front of the thigh. Repeat this stretch on both sides, three times.
A cat stretch will also alleviate pain in the lower back. Get onto hands and knees and arch the back upwards. Bring the chin close to the chest and extend the spine. Next, drop the back downwards. Repeat this stretch 20 times.
TRADITIONAL TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR LOWER CROSS SYNDROME
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 differences 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.
Treatment from a musculoskeletal specialist or Airrosti Certified Provider is key to addressing the specific problems in the body. Muscular adhesions and trigger points will develop, and must be removed. Manual treatment should be followed by specific strengthening and stretching exercises to prevent future injury, and to further restore strength and function.
Reviewed by Casey Crisp, Doctor of Chiropractic