Lower Cross Syndrome for the Female Dancer

Lower Back Pain

The human body is designed to be upright. Constantly leaning back puts pressure on your L4 – L5 and L5 – S1 vertebrae. Tension accumulates there, and this predisposes you to lower back pain. Could you train better without excessive activation of the lower back muscles? It’s not just the discomfort you need to think about. Here is how such an imbalance impairs your performance.

When your lumbar spine goes into hyperlordosis due to tightening of the lower back muscles (optimal lordosis is 30-35 degrees), your body will try and compensate for both pelvis and upper back. These compensations are called Lower Cross Syndrome and Upper Cross Syndrome. 

The Lower Cross Syndrome

This term is coined by Vladimir Janda, an expert who brought a new perspective on human biomechanics. 

Women in general and dancers, in particular, tend to overuse the muscles on the front part of the leg. Why? When you’re on your toes, you use your quadriceps a lot and your hamstrings less (muscles on the back of your thigh). The glutes also get less activation. This leads to an imbalance. The quads are pulling down on your pelvis, tipping it forward. The hamstrings which should balance the position of your pelvis are not able to do so. 

If you want to find out more about muscle imbalance you can check this other article here.

When it comes to the lower part of your body, the muscles on the front are overpowering the muscles on the back. The result is that the spine, which sits on your pelvis, will need to operate from an imbalanced position. The hyperlordosis can lead to a Lower Cross Syndrome and vice-versa. Regardless of which came first, they will enforce each other. 

This is why efforts to correct these complex imbalances from a simple youtube video will not have resounding success. Essentially you need to stretch a couple of facilitated muscles: iliopsoas, quads, lumbar erectors, and calves. Then, you need to strengthen the muscles that are commonly weaker in such imbalances: the gluteal muscles, hamstrings, and lower abdominals. 

How Can You Find Out You Suffer From Lower Cross Syndrome

Together with Dancesportlife Academy, I’ve launched a course exactly on this topic. You will learn how to test yourself to see if you suffer from certain conditions and the science behind the issue. You will get detailed video demonstrations of stretching and corrective exercises for postural problems. Attached to the course is a support document that includes a complete exercise schedule so that you know how to put the course into action. Click here if you want to go to the course.

Here is another shorthand test to see if you have optimal lower abdominal strength. We’re not looking at a function in a complex bipedal position right now. We’re just keeping it simple, assessing the strength. 

Please lay on your back, preferably on a yoga mat or similar surface. Lift your legs and keep them straight, while pointing at the ceiling or at least as vertical as possible. 

Place your right hand behind underneath your lumbar spine, right underneath your navel (if your dancing partner is around, ask him to place his hand there to make things easier for you). 

Observe how you are pressing with your lumbar spine onto your fingers. 

Now slowly lower the legs while keeping them straight. While doing so, maintain the pressure on the fingers underneath your lumbar spine. Keep pressing like this and lowering the legs until you can no longer hold the pressure on the fingers underneath your spine. 

If you can place your heels on the ground while maintaining pressure, you have optimal lower abdominal strength. 

Costin Glăvan is a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He teaches people how to be in shape, to improve their posture and overall change! He loves changing people’s lives for the better with his motivation and know-how. You can reach to him at [email protected] Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/CostinGlavan/ Website: www.costinglavan.ro

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