LOWER – CROSSED SYNDROME AND LOW BACK PAIN
A lot of focus in the office is (and one of the articles in our June edition was) regarding Anterior Head Syndrome. But, just as common are secondary conditions such as headaches, neck pain, mid back pain, arm pain and many more. Lots of people suffer with low back pain issues as well.
Lower Cross Syndrome can affect low back function. One main cause of Lower Cross syndrome is due to the long periods of sitting which affects our structure and creates muscle imbalances. You have probably heard of sitting being referred to as the new smoking! That’s because there are numerous damaging health effects. When we sit for long periods of time, the muscles in the front of the legs and hip (called hip flexors) become short and tight. This also causes further tightening of lower back muscles.
The thing about the body is that it’s doesn’t work in separate parts, it works as a whole. You can’t affect the front of the body without affecting the opposite (the back of the body). So, dysfunction in the front hips will create dysfunction in the back as well or vice versa. There is always a cause and effect.
Sitting for long periods affects the natural curve and structure in the lower back, creating wear and tear and structural shifts in the lumbar spine. When your hips are under constant strain, especially from sitting, this will pull the hips forward and puts the hamstrings (muscles at the back of the leg) under tension. Think about it - if your hamstrings are under constant tension, they are being shortened all day long. That results in you having muscles that are under tension for hours a day and the opposite set of muscles not working and atrophying.
So, what should you be doing? Working on strengthening and mobilizing your hamstrings and stretching your hips - working on activating your glutes, because when you sit on them all day, they are not firing and become inhibited.
To summarize: Lower Crossed Syndrome involves imbalances of strength and weakness of opposing muscles. There is tightness of the hip flexors, the iliopsoas and rectus femoris and lower back muscles. Weakness of the abdominal muscles and weakness of the gluteus maximus and medius muscles (butt muscles). This distortion creates structural shifts in the lower back most common at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 segments, the Sacroiliac joint leading to secondary conditions like back pain, hip pain leg pain and more.
So what can you do to help with Lower Cross syndrome?
a) Get your spine and nervous checked regularly to make sure structural shifts of the spine are not affecting you lower back, hip and organ function
b) Work on making sure you have strong abdominal and gluts strength. Doing plank exercises and gluts bridging exercises. If you need help let me know
c) Stretch the front of your hips
d) Since most people in Ottawa are working at a desk 9 to 5 and maybe working out a few times a week. Three hours a week of movement/activity is not going to undo a 40 hour-week’s worth of damage. Getting up every 25 minutes to move and do some mobility (especially hip ) will go a long way to help with lower cross syndrome.