A “HIP” Guide to Happier Movement: Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS)
As we continue to delve down the rabbit hole, in today’s article we feature the Lower-crossed syndrome (LCS). LCS is a postural, structural breakdown affecting the lower kinetic chain (lumbopelvic hip complex, knee, and ankle). Keeping in mind, that when one joint is compromised there are changes in functionality to all the other related joints. In this case the hip-to-knee-to ankle relationship and associated muscular slings and fascia lines.
A visual representation of the LCS can be seen in figure 1, which is a classic example what you might see in a student or client exhibiting LCS. The student presents an anterior pelvic tilt, which increases lumbar lordosis (swayback), and compensated with weak abdominals muscles. Kinaesthetically, the student will usually experience chronic low back pain, possible piriformis syndrome and possible anterior knee pain.
In LCS, the patterning of muscle imbalances will often lead to altered movement patterns, which we commonly see when the student is engaged in hip extension, hip abduction and trunk flexion.
This style of structural breakdown can develop when someone sits for long periods of time; leaning in a slightly flexed position…and in our society this is very common with our corporate age of technology. This causes the erector spinae and entire posterior chain to continually contract to hold the body’s weight upright while the constantly flexed position shortens the muscle length of the hip flexors.
Over time this causes theses muscles to adapt and then shorten in length and tighten. LCS can also cause tightness in the adductors, external hip ligaments (TFL), piriformis and even the glutes, making it difficult for the student to practice seated posture and spinal rotation (especially in the thoracic spine).
This coupled with reciprocal inhibition (the antagonists) are then lengthened and weakened, due to an unnatural compensation pattern induced by the effects LCS. These antagonist muscles include the gluteal group and the abdominals. Remembering back to our earlier post called “BREATHE DEEP FOR INSPIRATION” we looked at the relationship and balance mechanics of what Tom Meyers described as the 4 pillars of proper posture and breathing mechanics; which then permits the diaphragm to lift the base of the ribcage upwards establishing energetic dynamics of the pelvic girdle and aids to properly pressurize the pelvic cavity and integrate the pelvic diaphragm and floor.
So how do we know if we suffer from LCS, and how can it be prevented?
First off, never self diagnose, seek the expertise of a professional in bio mechanics; like a physiotherapist or movement coach.
Secondly, the assessment should focus on a postural analysis, muscle length and strength screen and the testing of movement patterns for asymmetrical breakdowns.
If you do have students in your class who have been diagnosed with LCS, here are a few things to consider:
- Suggest myofascial release for tight muscles before the class
- Segmental facilitation – a movement coach can offer sequenced corrective movements
- Tight muscles – add in movements that target the classic tighter muscles to increase
tone and mobility
- Strengthen the weakened muscles – add in postures that reflect strength holds for
increased stabilization and joint integrity
- Focus on retraining of Lumbo –pelvic hip complex movement patterns – this is usually
done in a 1 on 1 private class
- Postural and behavioral modification – usually done in a 1 on 1 private class
The key to sustainable pain free movement and balanced bio mechanics, is through prevention. Yoga is an exceptional way to connect with your inner physical self, achieve balance and equilibrium within the mind, body and spirit. Take the principles you learn on your mat and transfer those practices off the mat! A 5 min Yoga break from your office is a great way to bring the zen-mode ambiance to work, home or playtime.