What Is Lower Crossed Syndrome?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on October 18, 2022
4 min read

What is lower crossed syndrome?

If you’ve been told that you have lower crossed syndrome (LCS), you might wonder what this condition is, what causes it, and how it is treated.

Lower crossed syndrome is a common postural condition that affects the pelvis, hip joints, and lower back muscles. Lower crossed syndrome often affects posture, with an arched back causing the stomach and buttocks to stick out.

Thankfully, with help from personal trainers and movement-based professionals, you can overcome lower crossed syndrome.

Lower crossed syndrome is the result of a sedentary lifestyle (i.e., a lifestyle characterized by long periods in inactivity), whether that lifestyle is due to working a desk job, watching a lot of television, spending a lot of time on the computer, or engaging in another activity that involves prolonged sitting.

Lower crossed syndrome occurs due to an imbalance in muscular strength in the hip, lower back, and pelvis. Typically, this happens when the hip flexors, the inner thigh’s adductor muscles, and the upper and lower back extensor muscles and calves are overactive and tight. You may also find that your deep abdominal and gluteal muscles are weak and underactive. 

These imbalances are usually caused by prolonged sitting, with effects that spread beyond the pelvis and hip muscles, influencing the upper and lower back as well.

Lower back pain is one of the main symptoms. At the same time, you may notice an arch in your back and a pelvis tilt that together make your buttocks and stomach protrude.

There are several methods used to diagnose lower crossed syndrome. A physical examination and specific assessments may both be performed to diagnose this condition. During your physical exam, your doctor will evaluate your static posture to determine if you have an arched lower back and tilted pelvis.

Further assessments may involve an: 

  • Overheard Squat: Overhead squats help determine if a lower back arch is present. This arch will become more noticeable as you raise your arms and bend your knees to assume the squat position. You may also lean too far forward when squatting.
  • Single-Leg Squat: A single-leg squat will help your doctor observe your knee to see if it falls inward during this exercise. Your doctor will also be able to examine your trunk rotation and forward lean while you perform this movement.
  • Pushup: During the pushup assessment, your doctor will look for an increase in your lower back arch and see if your hip drops to the floor. These tendencies can indicate crossed syndrome.

If you’ve been diagnosed with lower crossed syndrome, you’ll then require treatment. Typically, lower crossed syndrome muscle imbalances are managed through an exercise regime. Once the muscular imbalances have been addressed, you’ll move on to a strength-based exercise routine to avoid future complications. 

Foam rollers and lacrosse balls are popular tools when addressing muscle imbalances. For example, one technique requires you to use a foam roller that you’ll roll over specific areas of your body in search of tender spots. Once you’ve found a tender area, you’ll keep the roller on that spot for 30 seconds or more. This exercise aims to produce a 50% reduction in tension.

You can follow the foam roller technique with some complementary lengthening stretches. Simply place yourself in a position that requires you to stretch and maintain it for 30 seconds. 

Once you have addressed your muscle imbalance by using these exercises, you can move on to additional strengthening exercises, such as the core stabilization exercise. 

Specific strengthening exercises can help you manage lower crossed syndrome: for example, the floor bridge exercise. This exercise will help activate and strengthen underactive muscles. The floor bridge exercise should be done with little to no external resistance. Move slowly and focus on lengthening your muscles. Perform two sets with at least ten reps per set, holding for at least two seconds. 

To do the floor bridge, lay on your back with your arms extended vertically on either side. With your knees bent, raise your lower half from the ground, keeping your feet, head, and upper back planted against the ground. 

You can also perform quadruped hip extensions. Plant your hands and knees firmly on the ground to perform this exercise, then lift your hips into the air. Again, you’ll want to incorporate at least two sets into your exercise regimen with at least ten reps per set, holding each rep for two seconds. 

A third strengthening exercise to consider is one of the core stabilization exercises, which also aims to help activate your underactive muscles. This family of exercises includes the glute bridge, bird dog, and plank. 

If you currently live a sedentary lifestyle, you should incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine. For example, you might take a break from sitting after every half-hour or every hour, stand while you work with the assistance of a standing desk, or get a decent workout before or after your day’s work. Practice good form and posture, frequently moving underactive muscles.