joint promotion

"S-Posture" vs. Low Back Pain

Previous issue was about Upper-Cross Syndrome.  This month's topic will be about Lower-Cross Syndrome. What are Upper and Lower Cross Syndrome? They are syndromes with various complications that can wreak havoc on the average person. For the athlete, especially the powerlifter, they can decrease strength, flexibility, range of motion and lead to further degenerative processes (wearing down of the body - arthritis, etc.). Upper cross syndrome refers to the upper part of the body, namely the neck / upper back / chest / shoulder areas. Lower cross syndrome refers to the lower part of the body surrounding the pelvis / lower back / abdominal / upper thigh areas.

What happens in both syndromes is that several muscle groups have become shorter and tighter. Other muscle groups have become weakened as a result of the previous mentioned tight muscles. What happens then is these problem areas start a bad cycle - they each get worse, making the other worse also. More tight muscles and increased weak muscles. Unless they are halted, they will start to change the composition and integrity of the surrounding joints, muscles, cartilage, nervous structures and other tissues. This means osteoarthritis (aging or degenerative arthritis) can rear its ugly head. This is not good for the powerlifter as the powerlifter needs good joints to withstand the incredible stresses and forces we place on them during our heavy training. Postural changes of the body will also occur with these syndromes.

The Lower Crossed Syndrome ("S-Posture")

Lower cross syndrome consists of various tightened and weak muscles. The tight muscles are generally as follows: hip flexors (such asiIliopsoas, rectus femoris - one of the quadricep muscles), and erector spinae muscle group - the muscles on either side of the spine. The weakened muscles are as follows: abdominal muscles and gluteus maximus - part of your buttock muscles. How do you know if you have lower cross syndrome? Having a swayback (excessive curve of the lower back) is a good indication of lower cross syndrome. Demostrating an anterior pelvic tilt (hips tilted forward), increased lumbar (low back) lordosis (curve) and increased hip flexion. Lower back pain can suggest lower cross syndrome is involved, however, there are also many causes of low back pain.

What can you do if you have Lower Cross Syndrome? Identifying the problem areas is important. Next, stretching and lengthening the tightened muscles is very important as is strengthening the weakened muscles. You will not see immediate results in doing the above. The athlete needs to be consistent with the above regimen, just as it takes hard and consistent training to get strong. It will not happen overnight. If you do the above over a three to six month period, you will start to see changes to these problem areas. After you notice changes happening, continue to do these exercises and you will become stronger as the muscles are able to work more synergistically (together) and decrease the chances of degenerative processes from wreaking havoc on your body and making you weaker.


Lower-Cross Syndrome

Tight muscle: hip flexors and erector spinae

Weakened muscle
: abdominal and gluteus maxinus


Half Boat Pose (Ardha Navasana) -- to strengthen abdominal muscles group, including rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique and transversus abdominis. In which the transvesus abdominis is the deepest muscle of the abdominal with fibres run horiontally acts like an internal weight belt, to stablize lumbar spine and assisting in normal lordosis maintenance.

1.   Sit on the floor with the legs in front of you. Interlock the fingers behind your head.

2.   Lean back and let your lower back on the floor. As you exhale, lift your legs off the mat. Keep your knees
      straight and your legs together. Keep your toes and your eyes in the same line.

3.   Keep breathing and hold for at least 30 seconds. 


Four Limbs Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) -- to strengthen abdominal, back and buttock muscles.

1.    From Plank position, firm the abdomen and bend the arms straight back, keeping the upper arms hugging into your sides.

2.    As you exhale, lower down toward the floor, stopping when your forearms and upper arms are at a right angle.

3.     Keep the whole body level with the floor.

4.     Push back into the heels.

5.     Keep breathing and hold for 5 seconds. 2 times a day. Gradually increase to hold this pose for 45 seconds.

6.      Lastly, exhale and lower the body to the floor and rest.


Bridge Pose (Setubandha Sarvangasana) -- to strengthen buttock muscles

1.  Lie supine on the floor, arms by the sides of the body. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.

2.  Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. 

3.  Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.

4.  Firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Stay on the tops of your shoulders.

5.  Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute with normal breathing. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.


Modified Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) -- to stretch hip flexors

  1. Bend left knee and place the sole and heel of the left foot flat on the floor, left knee over the left ankle.

  2. Take the right leg back and bend knee and place it on a blanket, right shin and right foot on the wall. The shin of the right leg will then be vertical with the floor.

  3. Place the finger tips on the floor beside front foot. You will feel a stretch from the hips to your back thigh.

  4. Keep breathing and hold from 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat this pose on the other side.


Tortoise Pose (Kurmasana) -- to stretch erector spinae

  1. Sit on the mat with the legs stretched straight in front. Widen the legs until the distance between two knees is just slightly widen your shoulders.

  2. Bend the knees and lift them up by drawing the feet towards the trunk.

  3. Exhale, bend from the hips and extend the trunk forward. Insert the hands one by one under the knees, until the upper arms underneath the knees and stretch them straight out sideways.

  4. Bring the forehead, then the chin and lastly the chest down to the floor.  The Knees will then be near the shoulders.

  5. Keep breathing and hold this position from 15 to 30 seconds.


  1. For experience people:Interlock fingers at the back.


Head to Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana) -- to stretch back of the thigh

  1. Sit on the mat with legs stretched straight in front of you.

  2. Bend the left knee and move it to the left, keeping the outer side of left thigh and the left calf on the floor.

  3. Extend the arms forward towards the right foot and hold it with both hands.

  4. Inhale,  lift the chest forward and extend the back of the body long,. Keeping the abdomen and back long, exhale, move the trunk forward by bending the elbows to the side, the top of head towards your top of the right foot.

  5. Keep breathing and hold the pose for 15-30 seconds. Inhale, return the the starting position, change to the other side.




Kenny Choi and Josephine Yu


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