Tips to Correct Poor Posture – Lower Cross Syndrome

Lower Cross Syndrome: the poor posture of our sitting society.

Have you ever heard of Lower Cross Syndrome? We have been talking A LOT about posture lately but we usually think about the effects of posture for our upper body: head, neck, shoulders and upper back. We often overlook how poor posture affects our lower body: low back, pelvis and hips!

Lower Cross Syndrome

As discussed in previous blogs, lower cross syndrome occurs when there is an imbalance in the muscles surrounding our pelvis.

The common pattern of muscle imbalance occurs as a chronic weakness of the abdominal and gluteus muscles while there is simultaneous hypertonicity or tightness of the lower back extensors and hip flexors.

This muscular imbalance pulls the pelvis forward placing excess tension on the lower back and hips which can lead to lower back and groin pain and instability.

“But Katie, I have Lower Cross Syndrome…will I be stuck like this forever?”
“Don’t worry! There are several ways that you can actually start making postural changes on your own. Have a look below for some clever tips!”

Relax and Lengthen

1. Hip Flexors Muscles – Your hip flexors attach from your lumbar spine, go over the bony crest at the front of your pelvis then attach on the inside at the top of your leg. When we activate our hip flexors our hips bend allowing our leg above the knee to lift upwards.
What’s the problem? – These muscles can become chronically shortened when we remain in a seated position for prolonged periods of time. Just as shortening or tightening this muscle will allow our hip to bend and our leg to lift, when we try to lengthen out our legs to stand, tightness in this muscle will tip our pelvis forward and pull on our spine increasing tension on our lower back. This can be a common cause of lower back pain!

Watch Katie demonstrate how to stretch through your hip flexors in the video below!

Hold each stretch for 30 seconds to allow the muscles to relax and lengthen. Perform on both sides.

2. Lower Back Muscles – Our postural muscles of the low back, include the quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle which attaches from the ribs to the pelvis, and the lumbar erector spinae (ES) muscle group which run the length of the spinal column. These muscles are responsible for keeping our torso upright and our lower back in an extended and stabilised position.
What’s the problem? – When this muscle becomes chronically shortened it contributing to the forward tip of the pelvis, deepening the curve of the lower back and compressing the lower spinal levels. As the nerve roots exit from the spine before running down into the pelvis and lower limbs, compression through these spinal levels can cause nerve impingement which can lead to pain in the back, hip or lower limbs.

Watch Katie demonstrate how to stretch your lower back muscles in the video below!

Hold each stretch for 30 seconds to allow the muscles to relax and lengthen. Perform on both sides.

Stabilise and Strengthen

3. Abdominal Muscles – These are a group of muscles that stabilise the front and sides of our torso attaching in various layers, from our ribs to our pelvis.
What’s the problem? – Lack of activation or increased contents of the abdominal cavity can gradually stretch through these muscles.  When muscle fibres are held in a chronically lengthened position it may lead to weakness. This muscle weakness compromises the stability of the pelvis allowing it to tilt forward.

Watch Katie demonstrate how to strengthen your abdominal muscles in the video below!

Perform this exercise slowly 6-10 times per side for 1-3 sets. Ensure that your back is flat against the floor and your ribs are flat against your tummy -> do this by taking a big breath in to feel them flaring then exhale feeling your ribs flatten against your tummy, squeeze through your core to keep them in this position as you perform the exercise.

4. Weak gluteal muscles – The gluteals are the group of muscles more commonly known as our buttocks. The gluteals attach from the top of our pelvis and wrap around to the top of our upper leg. These muscles are responsible for the movements of our hip and thigh, particularly to stabilise the hip and pelvis as we walk or rise from a seated position.
What’s the problem? – When we remain in a seated position these muscles are maintained in a chronically lengthened position. This can lead to muscle weakness and compromise the stability of the pelvis and hip. Weakness of the gluteal muscles can make it difficult rising from a seated position, climbing steps or even just keeping your pelvis level while walking. Compensatory changes in the body can increase the tension of the lower back leading to pain in the back, pelvis or lower limbs.

Watch Katie demonstrate how to strengthen your gluteal muscles in the video below!

Perform each of these exercises slowly 10-15 times for 1-3 sets. First trying the classic Squat pattern. Once you are confident with this pattern, you can perform the sidestepping in the squat position. Try to keep your pelvis parallel to the floor and perform by a wall for balance support.

For more information on how to correct your posture call Hands on Health Care at (02) 9949-3017 or book your next appointment online

July 25, 2018
Katie MacRae