I typically see this syndrome in low back pain patients who sit for long periods of time or are sedentary. This typically results from working at a desk, studying, driving, watching too much TV, etc. Sitting for long periods of time is one of the worst things we can do for our backs and our health. Long term sitting can result in muscle degeneration, back and neck pain, organ dysfunction, leg disorders and heart disease, just to name a few. When sitting some of our muscles deactivate (weaken) while others become tight. This creates an imbalance in our muscles which will alter our posture causing low back pain. We refer to this specific imbalance of the lower back, hips and legs as lower cross syndrome
Signs of Lower Cross Syndrome - patients may present with 1 or more of the following:
- Low back pain
- Hip pain
- Increased curve of the low back (hyperextension)
- Popping of the hip (tight hip flexor)
- Knee pain (unknown cause)
- Tight low back muscles (back extensors)
- Tight hip flexors
- Pain or tension in front hip/groin area
What is Lower Cross Syndrome
Lower Cross Syndrome is an imbalance in the core stabilizing muscles. The imbalance is created by some muscles being weak and some muscles being tight. Patients with this imbalance will have weak abdominal and glute muscles with tight low back and hip muscles.
As you can see, the tight low back muscles cause the back to hyperextend which compresses the joints of the spine. This can result in pain, nerve irritation and, if left untreated, can cause long term conditions such as arthritis, disc degeneration, disc herniations and spondylosis (abnormal positioning of a vertebra/spinal bone).
This altered posture can also result in hip and knee pain. The legs attach to the hips and in the altered posture both are pulled out of their normal positions. This creates abnormal stress in the hips and knees, which, can result in pain and uneven wear and tear on the joints.
How To Correct This Imbalance:
In order to correct this muscle imbalance we must strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the tight muscles.
- Strengthen weak muscles: Abdominals & Glutes
- Stretch tight muscles: Low Back (back extensors) , Hip Flexors (iliopsoas & tensor fasciae latae), Hamstrings and Inner Thigh Muscles (adductors)
By Dr. Keri Linane
Montclair Oakland, Ca Chiropractor