While lower cross syndrome and pelvic floor dysfunction are typically considered separate conditions, they’re more related than most clinicians/patients realize. This blog will discuss:
- How many pelvic floor dysfunction cases lead to lower cross syndrome.
- How the presence of lower cross syndrome feeds pelvic floor dysfunction.
- And the many ‘chapters’ that this ‘book’ has.
What is Lower Cross Syndrome?
Lower cross syndrome (LCS) is a muscle imbalance pattern that involves the muscles of the lower back, pelvis, and hips. This involves the tightness and overactivity of the hip flexors and lower back muscles with the weakness and under-activity of the lower abdominal area and glutes.
Lower Cross Syndrome symptoms vary from lower back pain, hip pain, and limited range of motion. These are accompanied by compensatory changes in posture and movement patterns. This means knee and ankle pain, falling accidents, and dysfunctional walking and gait.
What Causes Lower Cross Syndrome?
Lower cross syndrome (LCS) is typically caused by prolonged sitting, a sedentary lifestyle, previous injuries, and habits. Poor posture, muscle imbalances, and compensation patterns create dysfunctional movements that affect the whole body including the pelvis and pelvic floor.
Lower Cross Syndrome and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
While most people associate pelvic floor dysfunction with incontinence, genital pain, and painful intercourse, many other symptoms get overlooked. This mistake is one of the major reasons for the improper diagnosis of pelvic floor dysfunction and untimely treatment. This matter is discussed in detail in my blog: “Subtle Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction”.
Lower cross syndrome directly impacts the balance of the pelvis, which is the ‘house’ that the pelvic floor is the ‘floor’ of. Pelvic floor dysfunction can also cause compensatory changes in the lower cross syndrome pattern. This includes increased tension or weakness in the muscles of the lower back, pelvis, and hips. See how this can perpetuate the cycle of dysfunction?
Addressing muscle imbalances and dysfunction in both pelvic floor dysfunction and lower cross syndrome is important for improving overall pelvic health and reducing symptoms. This can only be provided correctly by physical therapists and chiropractors who are familiar with both functional movement and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Top 6 Exercises for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction and LCS
Here are 6 exercises that can help address the muscle imbalances associated with lower cross syndrome and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Let’s do this together! Place your hands on the sides of your rib cage. Breathe in through your nose and push your hands outward. Now, breathe out and keep that outward pressure. Make sure you are sitting (or standing) straight so your rib cage is stacked straight on top of your pelvis. One thing to remember is to not feel obligated to breathe faster or deeper. Just start by getting this way of breathing down.
2) Glute bridges
Lie on your back with your spine neutral and on the floor from the neck to the pelvis. Bend your knees and feet flat on the ground. Breathe biologically as explained above. Engage your glutes and lift your hips up towards the ceiling, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your hips back down. Repeat for several repetitions as long as you can breathe correctly and do the move as explained.
3) Dead bugs:
Lie on your back with a neutral spine (see above). Have your arms extended towards the ceiling and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Slowly lower one arm and the opposite leg towards the ground keeping your lower back in contact with the floor. The key is to not let the spine lift off the floor when moving your arms and legs. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
4) Hip flexor stretches
Kneel on one knee with your other foot in front of you, with your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your torso straight with a neutral spine and breathe biologically. Now, gently shift your weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Do this as often as you can as long as you are able to hold the principles of exercise in place.
5) Quadruped hip extensions
Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Breathe biologically and keep your spine neutral as if you don’t have a curve in the lower back. Send your shoulder blades toward your back pocket. Now, extend one leg straight behind you keeping your knee bent at a 90-degree angle. Squeeze your glute at the top of the movement, then lower your leg back down. Make sure you do not arch your lower back as you lift your leg up.
6) Bird dogs
Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Breathe biologically and keep the spine neutral. Extend one arm and the opposite leg straight out, keeping your torso neutral and your back flat. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
It is easy to be focusing on the pelvic floor and disregarding the whole body. That is how pelvic floor issues escalate, don’t fully resolve, and become frustrating. The full treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction, and the way I approach it to help my patients is explained in my blog: ” Are Yoga Exercises Good for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction‘.
If you need help with the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction or think your issue is related to your posture and movement, do not hesitate to contact me.