Lower Cross Syndrome

April 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Patient Education

What is Lower Cross Syndrome?
One of the most clinically relevant patterns of joint and muscle dysfunction is a lower crossed syndrome. Simply stated, the lower crossed syndrome is a grouping of weak muscles combined with overactive or tight muscles, that create a predictable movement pattern in the lower back that lead to joint dysfunction and eventually injury. Many people develop a distinct pattern of muscle imbalances due to prolonged static postures, such as sitting at a desk all day or traveling.

It has been proven that when a muscle is subjected to a short or contracted state for an extended period of time it causes a reflex inhibition or weakening of the muscles on the opposite side of the body, called reciprocal inhibition. For example, if you sit in a chair for eight hours a day, with time your hip flexors will become shortened or tight. Therefore, your brain will automatically start to shut down or inhibit your glute muscles (butt) which are on the opposite side. Now, since your glute muscles are not working properly your body will recruit synergistic muscles like the hamstrings and lower back muscles to assist the glutes in performing hip extension. In other words, you start to recruit muscles that were not intended to be used for specific actions such as walking.

lowercross002So what areas are involved in lower cross syndrome?

It is basically the combination of tight hip flexors and a tight lower back, paired with weak abdominals and weak glutes. This combination leads to an excessive arching or rounding up your lower back (swayback), a flabby or protruding abdomen, and a flat butt due to weakness in the glutes. This is a very dangerous combination of muscle imbalances due to the excessive stress that it places on the structures of the lower back.

This is a very common presentation for chronic low back pain/ buttocks and hip pain.