The lower crossed syndrome is a muscular abnormality of the body brought on by incorrect posture. The lower crossed syndrome includes tight lower back muscles, tight hip flexor muscles, lax abdominal muscles, and lax gluteal muscles. This combination of tight muscles generally produce lower back pain and you may also have sore knees due to tight leg adductor muscles (muscles that move your legs towards the center of your body). Lower crossed syndrome can develop from someone who sits for long periods of time, leaning in a slightly flexed position. This causes the lower back muscles or erector spine to continually contract to hold the body’s weight upright while the constantly flexed position shortens the muscle length of the iliopsoas and rectus femoris muscles. Through continued contraction or in a shortened position, the muscles adapt and shorten in length leading to muscle tightness.
Since the body acts like a series of pulleys and levers, when one muscle gets shortened, it usually means that another muscle gets lengthened. This phenomenon is known as reciprocal inhibition. How it works is that when a muscle is contracting, the muscle opposite of its function, or antagonist muscle, is turned off so that they aren’t both contracting at once. Your brain can of course override this, but the purpose of reciprocal inhibition is to make the body more efficient and to avoid injury. While inhibited though, the antagonist muscle is not only prevented from contracting, but in many cases is actually contracting, but in many cases is actually stretched or lengthened. If you think of your quads (front thigh muscles) versus your hamstrings (back thigh muscles), if you flex one, you’ll usually feel the other stretch when you maximally stretch. In the end, the shortened tight muscles cause the stretching and lengthening of their antagonist muscles. This ultimately leads to the weakening of those muscles.
Muscles commonly tight or shortened in lower crossed syndrome include:
- Rectus femoris
- Erector spinae
- Tensor fascia latae (TFL)
- Leg adductors
The weakened or lengthened muscles include:
- Abdominal group
- Gluteal group
People with chronic low back pain that does not seem to respond to most therapies may have this condition. It is necessary to treat the tight back muscles as well as the tight shortened hip flexor muscles, and then work on strengthening the abdominal and gluteal muscles. When proper balance is restored, the pain will be elevated.
When treating patients with LCS the shortened muscles must be restored before embarking on training of the weakened muscles. This is based on Sherrington’s Law of reciprocal inhibition which states that when one muscle is shortened or tightened its opposite muscle relaxes.
If you are having Lower Back Pain with no results you could be experiencing Lower Cross Syndrome. Call Dr. Jason Jumper at Renew Chiropractic in Lakewood today at 720-493-5885.