Lower Crossed Syndrome- A Causative Factor in Lower Back Pain
Lower crossed syndrome is a condition arising from an imbalance in the strength and flexibility of the muscles surrounding the pelvis which commonly results with pelvis being pulled further forward from a more neutral position. Over time this can cause postural issues and pain.
Why does this happen? Sedentary lifestyles and extended periods of time spent sitting or driving is a major factor as is over-training of one muscle group without balanced work on the opposing side. Think of two pulley cords; if one side is pulled taut (strong side) then the other side (weaker side) will be pulled long affecting equilibrium and alignment.
To be specific, what commonly happens is that the hip flexor muscles shorten, as does the central front thigh muscle, which cross and attach to the pelvis respectively; the shortening of these muscles cause the forward tilt in the pelvis which in turn pull the lumbar spine to an increased curvature and these spinal muscles also shorten/ tighten. With the shortening of muscles on one side there is a pulling long and weakening of muscles on the other side, these include the gluteus maximus (large buttock muscle), hamstrings and abdominal group.
Less common but also possible is a posterior pelvic tilt where the opposite applies from that described in previous paragraphs.
In short healthy posture and balanced pulling forces on the skeleton are maintained through an equal degree of strength and flexibility from all sides somewhat akin to guy ropes on a tent.
Remedy: The approach of a good physical therapist will be to lengthen the tight structures first, reason being they directly inhibit optimal function of opposing muscle group (reciprocal inhibition). The next stage is to strengthen the weakened/ lengthened muscles to gradually redress the balance between the muscles and neutralise the pulling forces on the pelvis.
Runner’s lunge is a good start to work on stretching the hip flexors. Bridge pose and hip extensions from all fours work well to recruit and strengthen the glutes. Seek advice from a good physical therapist or yoga teacher as the detailed targeting and refinement is everything in this work. Massage and targeted ‘muscle energy technique’ stretching is also particularly useful in making best progress.
The maintenance of good health is helped tremendously by increasing awareness of your body, how you move and discerning what constitutes healthy movement versus strain.
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Go well. Will 🙂🙏