What is Lower Cross Syndrome?
Lower Cross Syndrome (LCS) is similar to the previous topic, Upper Cross Syndrome in many ways. Both conditions result from a muscle imbalance, and both are very common in people who sit for prolonged periods of time such as in a desk job or jobs that require a large amount of driving. While UCS is caused by an imbalance in the shoulder and neck muscles, Lower Cross Syndrome is caused by an imbalance in the hip and abdominal muscles. Individuals with LCS often exhibit an excessive arch, or lordosis, in the lower back, knee hyperextension, and anterior pelvic tilt. LCS can result in low back pain, hip pain, limited hip range of motion, and knee pain.
What muscles are involved in LCS?
LCS, much like UCS, is the result of certain muscles becoming short and tight and others becoming long and weak. For LCS, the muscles that become short and tight are the iliopsoas (flexes the hip), the rectus femoris (major quadricep muscle that flexes the hip and extends the knee), and the erector spinae (extend the spine). The muscles that become long and weak are the gluteus maximus (extends and rotates the leg laterally at the hip), the gluteus medius (extends and medially rotates the leg at the hip), and the rectus abdominus (flexes the spine). These tight and weak muscles cross at the hip joint causing the pelvis to rotate anteriorly and the low back to have a deeper curve resulting in decreased hip stability and a tightening of the hamstring muscles (flex the leg at the knee). This decreased stability causes pain in the low back and limited range of motion putting the hip joint at a high risk for injury and even degenerative, arthritic changes in the lower back.
How is LCS treated?
Much like in UCS, treatment is aimed at loosening up the tight muscles and strengthening the weak muscles. It is important to note that releasing the tightness must come before strengthening the weakened muscles. The objective is to restore balance in the area which in turn will result in the restoration of the proper postural alignment of the lower back. A great way to open up the iliopsoas and rectus femoris is to perform forward lunges. To loosen up the other tight muscle involved in LCS, the erector spinae, the yoga position known as the downward facing dog can be utilized. A wide range of exercises can be used to strengthen the glutes and abdominals; the plank and bridge exercises are some great examples. In order to avoid perpetuating LCS while attempting to correct it, it is important to keep the stomach tight while sitting in order to maintain a neutral spine posture.
The doctors at West Family Chiropractic are well versed in identifying and treating Lower Cross Syndrome. If you would like more information about LCS, assistance with posture correction, more detailed instruction on exercises to treat LCS, or have low back/knee pain associated with muscle imbalance like in LCS, do not hesitate to give the office a call and set up an appointment.