Does Lower Crossed Syndrome Matter?

anterior pelvic tilt lower crossed syndrome Oct 26, 2023
lower crossed syndrome

Lower crossed syndrome? No worries, hipster.

Just stretch your hip flexors and low back while strengthening the glutes and abs.

Voila! Now you can stand all day with perfect posture.

You also have no more pain or stiffness in the hips or low back.

You're fixed!

Hopefully, my sarcasm is capable of reaching you through your iPhone screen.

If you've read anything about lower cross "syndrome" then you've probably came across the above advice.

But guess what? This strategy does not work.

It doesn't work because our bodies are NOT simple machines where you can input a few simple prompts to fix a processing error.

That body is attached to a brain. And a nervous system. All of the things that make us human.

The reason you stand in a certain posture or get low back or hip pain is due to many factors, not just how tight or weak certain muscles are.

In this article, I'll explain why you shouldn't stress too much about lower crossed syndrome.

I'll also share how to improve that kind of posture. . . if that's something you really want to do.

What is Lower Crossed Syndrome? 

The typical presentation of lower crossed syndrome is an arched lower back and a protruding chest.

There are actually many other names for this type of posture including anterior pelvic tilt and distal crossed syndrome.

The conventional explanation for lower cross syndrome is a type of criss-cross muscle imbalance.

The tightness of the muscles in the lower back and hip flexors combined with weak muscles in the glutes and abs causes the pelvis to rotate forward.

This type of posture is VERY common.

Many incredible athletes have this type of posture. And there is no evidentiary support that this type of posture causes anything negative.

Research actually shows the exact opposite. 

Like this study or this one that showed no correlation between low back pain and lumbar lordosis (the excessive curve in the back that is quintessential to lower crossed syndrome). 

So the important question we have to ask is: does having lower crossed syndrome matter?

How do you fix Lower Crossed Syndrome? 

This is the most important section of this article because it highlights the intention of you being here.

You probably stumbled upon this article because you are looking for a way to fix your lower cross syndrome.

But why?

If it's because you don't like the way this posture looks then alright, maybe there is something to that. 

But making dramatic changes to our posture takes time and effort. It does NOT happen after a few workouts.

It happens after months or even years of consistent and intelligent training. 

Personally, I don't see anything wrong with this posture and I think it's more aesthetically pleasing than the slumped shoulders posture.

After working with people for years, I would bet most people are blaming their lower cross syndrome for their pain.

Whether it's the lower back, the hips, or even the shoulders, many people believe that this posture causes joint pain.

There is no evidence of that. Just because it's called lower crossed "syndrome" does not mean it's a bad thing.

What if we changed the name to lower crossed posture, would that make you feel better?

The point here is that you don't have to fix this type of posture if you don't want to. 

Exercises for Lower Crossed Syndrome 

The below exercises are not intended to "fix" lower crossed syndrome. As I explained above, you don't need to fix this type of posture.

These exercises can support your ability to move and feel better in your body, however. 

Posture is incredibly dynamic. Meaning, our postures change all the time depending on what activity we are engaged in, our mood, our stress levels, etc.

After these exercises, you should feel like you are standing with more balance and function. But you might feel the opposite way after a day of sitting at the office. 

It's all about providing our bodies and brains with constant movement to reinforce better balance, function and posture. 

These 3 exercises can help you get started.

"What the heck, Maks? I thought you were going to give us an exercise!? Not just tell us to lay down." 

Trust me. A body-scan done the right way before and after an exercise routine will make a HUGE impact in your workouts. 

It will show you what is actually working. 

For example, for the purposes of this tutorial, notice if your low back is touching the ground when you do the body scan.  

If it's not, how far is your low back from the ground?

If it is, does one side of your low back touch the ground differently than the other? 

Now do the below exercises and come back to the body scan to see if any of the above observations change. 

In addition to the cues mentioned in the video, see if you can feel a strong contraction in your abdomen with each exhale.  

Many people with a lower-crossed type posture struggle with properly recruiting deep abdominal muscles during movement. 

An easy way to introduce function is to practice this sensation when breathing. 

In this exercise, we put it all together.  As explained in the video, we want the work coming from the muscles located in our abdomen. 

For those with a lower-crossed posture, this might be VERY difficult at first. Take your time. 

If you feel like lifting the limbs is just impossible right now without arching the low back, don't even lift them.

Just "imagine" like you are lifting the limbs and focus more on contracting your abs and pushing your low back into the ground. 

Once the above cue gets easy, try to time the lift and drop the limbs at the same time.

In other words, see if you can lift the limbs simultaneously and have them touch the ground on the way down at the same time as well. 

Closing Thoughts

Our posture can tell us a lot about our bodies and how we move.

It can give us some direction on what kind of exercises can help us move and feel better in our day-to-day lives. 

But posture should not be used to diagnose pain problems.  

Pain - especially chronic pain - is a complex and unique problem that is associated with how our brains interpret our environment. 

I write about pain in many other articles on this site so check those out if you're interested. 

It's important to understand your goal. 

Solving a pain problem is not the same thing as improving posture and movement. 

The more clear you are on your goal, the more likely you'll reach it.

Whether that goal is to reduce pain, improve posture or run a marathon.