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Lower Cross Syndrome

How Do You Get Lower Cross Syndrome?

Lower Cross Syndrome or LCS, is a neuromuscular condition in which there are tight and weak muscles. The involved tight muscles are the thoracolumbar extensors and hip flexors, while the weak muscles are the abdominals and gluteus maximus. The term ‘Lower Cross Syndrome’ stems from the muscular dysfunction that is in the lower portion of the body. The ‘cross’ is due to a combination of tight muscles and weak muscles, which from a side view are seen as an X. Some people also experience upper cross syndrome at the same time.

Lower Cross syndrome Muscle Involvement

The muscles involved with lower cross syndrome are:
  • weak: abdominals | gluteus maximus
  • tight: thoracolumbar extensors (erector spinae) | hip flexors (iliopsoas)
Here is a picture to better depict why it is called lower cross syndrome.

Chiropractic and Lower Cross Syndrome

Chiropractic manipulation can help with lower cross syndrome as it is a neuromuscular dysfunction. For patients to get the most out of their chiropractic therapy, it is crucial that they do home therapies. Our Lebanon chiropractic patients experiencing lower cross syndrome often have joint dysfunction in the lower back. This includes the L4-L5, L5-S1 segments along with the sacroiliac (SI) and hip joints. Utilizing X-rays Dr. McKinney can asses the curve in the spine looking at lateral films to help determine the best treatment.
Lower cross syndrome is directly related to the muscles, which is why home therapies are important. Chiropractic adjustments help the dysfunctional joints to regain a normal range of motion. Stretching the tight muscles associated with lower cross syndrome and strengthening the weakened muscles will subdue  the cross pulling dysfunction. The resulting pain from the pulling in lower cross syndrome is what sets many patients off to call for an appointment. It is very important to understand that the perceived pain is only a small factor that plays into what the nerves transmit. We urge our patients to continue these home therapies even after the pain goes away,  there is likely still joint dysfunction due to the muscle involvement.
lower-crossThis picture depicts 2 types of lower cross syndrome postures:

Stretches for Lower Cross Syndrome

  • Hip Flexor Stretch

    To stretch the hip flexors, namely the iliopsoas muscles, push the the pelvis down while slightly arching the back. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds repeating 2-3 times.

    Hip Flexor Stretch
  • Erector Spinae Stretch

    with arms extended overhead and palms on the floor, round your back and walk your fingers while lowering your head until a stretch is felt. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds repeating 2-3 times

    Erector Spinae Stretch

Exercises for Lower Cross Syndrome

  • Front Bridge Exercise

    The front bridge or plank, should be held for as long as possible. Beginners may modify this position on their knees rather than toes until adequate strength is built up. Beginners may only be able to hold this position for 5-10 seconds, it’s important to get at least a minute of combined time to strengthen the weak abdominals.

    Front Bridge Exercise
  • Bird Dog Exercise

    The ‘Bird Dog’ is performed by alternately raising opposite arms and legs, briefly holding the position for a few seconds. This will help strengthen the weak gluteus maximus along with the abdominals. Performing these stretches and exercises along with chiropractic treatment may drastically decrease the pain associate with lower cross syndrome.

    Bird Dog Exercise