How to Fix Lower Back Pain: Lose the Lower Crossed Syndrome

How much do you sit on a daily basis? Sitting is a posture that becomes ingrained in the majority of us at an early age in school. If you watch an toddler bend to pick something up, a smooth squat is cleanly executed. If you ask a 45 year old to pick up the same object you see a very different result.

These changes in mechanics can be noticed in children as young as six or seven, soon after entering their first years of elementary school. Once we graduate and enter the “real world” we begin to sit upwards of eight to ten hours a day, five days a week. All of this sitting takes a toll on the muscles and joints of our lower back, causing lower back pain.

As we start our careers, staying active becomes less of a priority and we start to decondition the muscles that help us move uninhibited and pain free. The body realizes it no longer needs to use the core muscles or any of your glutes/hip extenders and your hip flexors become so tight, you struggle to straighten up for the first few steps out of a chair.

The results - back pain, hip pain, knee pain, decreased mobility. No longer can we run, jump, or bend like a kid.

What's the cause? Why does this happen?

The human body is the best at conserving energy. As a survival mechanism, the body will conserve energy directing it only where it is currently being used or needed. If you tell your body that core muscles are not needed while sitting in your chair 40+ hours a week, it listens!

The body also listens to input on how you use muscles. If you constantly sit in a position where the origin and the insertion of a muscle are really close together or shortened, like the hip flexors while sitting, it now adopts that as normal position. At that point you no longer stand without pain in the front of your hip and in your lower back!

When we consistently sit for long periods of time we teach the body a new "normal" position. Enter Lower Crossed Syndrome.

Lower crossed syndrome is a condition where your hip flexors and lower back extensor muscles become tight and the core and gluteal muscles become weak and inhibited. Typically this leads to an anterior pelvic tilt.

 Between the rib cage and your hips you have the supporting structures of your spine/discs and core muscles. When your core becomes inactive, the weight of your upper body must be supported by the discs and vertebra of your spine. HELLO BACK PAIN! 

How do we fix it?

The uphill battle of getting back in shape will lead to injury if we don't correct this imbalance. The foundation/core of the house has been torn down and it's not sustainable to build a house on it - only a matter of time until the 5k training or pick up basketball leads to injury!

Hope is not lost. We will get you back in the game.

First off, if you're in the acute phase and your back is screaming at you - get some help! At Boulder Sports Chiropractic, we have tools that help to get you out of pain ASAP. If you're in pain, your body's check engine light is on.

1. Fixing any injury is tough if you don't correct the activity that is causing it. Get out of the chair! Introducing standing breaks, workstation stretches, standing desks, exercise ball chairs, are all ways to modify the sitting situation.

2. Get your core activated once again. Drop the sit ups. Remember, your core is made up of a plethora of different muscles to help stabilize the spine and torso. Yes the six pack is nice (rectus abdominis), however we also have the quadratus lumborum, psoas, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, diaphragm, transverse abdominis and internal/external oblique’s to think about.  

3. Lengthen the hip flexors. Adding in a stretch, foam roll, lacrosse ball massage, or mobilization of the hip flexors will allow you to get the pelvis in a better position where you can activate and strengthen the glutes. Using techniques like ART (active release technique) we can expedite this process.

4. Activate your glutes. Follow your hip stretch with an exercise to activate your glutes, using a modification of the glute bridge as a beginners guide. This will balance the tug of war.

For videos of exercises with instructions, visit our Facebook page and follow our Instagram posts.

The process sounds simple, but everyone is different. The pain manifests differently in each of us and we need a plan optimized for YOUR situation. At Boulder Sports Chiropractic, we can evaluate your pain, find the compensation, fix it, and send you out the door with a plan to NEVER have the pain again! Call us today to make an appointment - 303-444-5105