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What is Lower Crossed Syndrome?

Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS), also called Pelvic Crossed Syndrome or Hyperlordosis, is a postural dysfunction that results in an increased arch in your low back. This increased arch is caused by a specific pattern of muscles being overly tight, as well as other muscles that are overly weak. When the hip flexors, quads and low back muscles are excessively tight and the core, glutes and hamstrings are excessively weak, Lower Crossed Syndrome occurs.

What causes Lower Crossed Syndrome?

Lower Crossed Syndrome can be caused by many things. Here is a list of the most common causes of LCS:

Sustained Poor Posture: Posture is a massive contributor to why people get LCS. This is also why so many people have this condition, because in today’s workplace the majority of people are working at a desk or on a computer. Students are also at risk for LCS due to the countless hours they spend sitting and studying on a computer. Slouching forward on a computer while sitting leaves your body in a constant state of flexed hips and an arched low back. Being in this position every day will eventually make your body become used to staying in this position, and the muscles associated with this condition will become and remain tight. Sitting in this position also relaxes the muscles that often become weak with LCS because they are not being used. Poor posture not only tightens the muscles that are common with LCS; but also weakens the muscles in the common pattern as well.

Prolonged Standing: If you don’t work in an office or on a computer, it is likely that you are standing all day. If sitting all day with bad posture causes LCS, wouldn’t standing fix it? Unfortunately that isn’t the case. When standing, there are a large number of muscles being activated to keep you standing and upright. The low back muscles are very strong, even without training, and many people do not have strong core muscles. Over time, the core muscles will fatigue while standing because they are not as strong as the low back muscles. Once the core muscles are fatigued, the low back and hip flexor muscles become overly engaged to keep you standing, and you remain in this position throughout your work day.

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Muscle Imbalances: As mentioned previously, LCS can be caused when there is an imbalance of strong/tight and weak/loose muscles. The typical pattern is tight hip flexors, quads and low back muscles and weak core, glutes and hamstrings. This is typically caused by poor posture and prolonged standing, but can also be caused by improper training in the gym.

Pregnancy & Obesity: These two factors can cause LCS, but typically are only temporary. After a woman is no longer pregnant or after a person loses weight, it is quite common to see LCS resolve itself. Pregnancy and obesity cause LCS because both of them add additional weight to the front of the body. Adding additional weight in the abdomen where typically the muscles are already weak is almost guaranteed to fatigue and weaken the abdominal muscles. This causes the lower back and hip muscles to compensate for the core muscles that cannot withstand the additional weight.

What are the symptoms of Lower Crossed Syndrome?

The most obvious symptoms associated with LCS are visually observable in the person’s posture as well as pain caused by a variety of factors.

Increased Low Back Arch: This increase in the arch of the low back can be seen when the person is viewed from the side. This change in the posture of the hips can cause other symptoms as well.

Pain: Pain associated with LCS can be caused from a variety of things. When the arch of the low back is increased, pain can be caused by tight muscles, the opposite muscles that are loose and constantly being stretched or even additional weight being put directly onto the spine itself that the muscles cannot hold without becoming fatigued.

Reduced Hip Movement: With LCS, the range that the hip is typically able to move will become reduced. This is especially observable when trying to extend the leg backwards.

Poor Posture: Although LCS is mainly associated with the increased arch of the low back, overall poor posture will likely be present. This can include the shoulders being in a forward position, as well as the upper back and head being slouched forward.

Treatment for Lower Crossed Syndrome:

Lower Crossed Syndrome is very common, but luckily it is very treatable as well. The most common treatments for LCS are listed here:

Heat & Cold: Following the pattern of tight and weak muscles, heat will be placed on the tight muscles to relax and loosen them, and cold will be placed on the weak muscles to stimulate them. Heat goes on the quads, hip flexors and low back. Cold goes on the glutes, hamstrings and abdomen if tolerable.

Stretching: Stretching is highly beneficial because it loosens tight muscles. This is important because LCS is caused by tight muscles, and stretching can relieve the tension in muscles and help to reverse LCS. Make sure to only stretch the tight muscles. Do not stretch the weak muscles. Stretch the quads, hip flexors and low back. Do not stretch the hamstrings or abdomen.

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Strengthen Weak Muscles: If you are able to strengthen the weak muscles associated with LCS, this will correct the imbalance of muscle strength/tension and reverse this increased arch in the low back. Strengthening the weak muscles achieves the best results when used with stretching of the tight muscles as well.

Correct Posture: Try to correct your posture as often as possible when you notice yourself in a poor position. Initially this will take active focus, but eventually it will become second nature and you will be able to maintain correct posture without even thinking about it. To correct your posture, focus and activate your glute and abdominal muscles. If you’re in a chair, flatten your low back against the chair back and then use your core muscles to hold that position.

Massage: Everyone’s favorite solution to bad posture and pain. Massage is extremely effective for loosening the tight muscles that cause the bad posture of your low back, and can even be used to stimulate the weak muscles. Plus, relaxation and getting rid of stress helps the entire body overall with relieving muscular tension.

Physiotherapy: This is the best way to strengthen the weak muscles that can’t hold the low back in place. A Physiotherapist will give you the exact exercises that you need to do, starting with easier exercises and then gradually getting more difficult. As long as you actually do the exercises prescribed, Physiotherapy has an incredible success rate.

If you have any questions, concerns or want to book an appointment, do not hesitate to contact Emilio at Nose Creek Sport Physiotherapy at 403.275.7728 or ecarpino@calgaryphysicaltherapy.com

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