Look at the lower back posture in the right-hand corner of this picture. Look Familiar?
If like many, there is an unwanted midriff developing, then this blog may just be of interest. As we age, we often lose our toned look & start to develop a protruding looking stomach. This is often blamed on age, lack of exercise or eating more. While all of these CAN & WILL contribute to a larger than life stomach, what if we can’t blame over eating or lack of exercise. What if the culprit was our posture?
Lower cross syndrome, as it is named, is a grouping of weak muscles combined with overactive or tight muscles. This has usually developed from prolonged static postures such as sitting at a desk all day.
How Does This Happen? (rough scenario)
- In the morning we will sit down to have breakfast.
- We then either jump in the car, use public transport, or we work at a desk from home.
- We get to the office & sit down at our desks.
- We have our lunch – most likely sitting down.
- We head home just like we arrived to work.
- Or we met up with friends after work, or we may have had an appointment, all at which we are probably sitting.
- We may stop off at the gym. A lot of the time we are once again in the seated position e.g exercise bike, weight machines etc.
- We sit down to have dinner.
- We may watch TV or read before bed – in the seated position.
- We then go to bed, & if we sleep on our side in the foetal position, once again we are in a similar position.
Muscles work in teams of two. When one muscle contracts the other relaxes. This allows us to move the way we do, such as lifting our legs or arms etc. But what if one muscle was constantly contracted? Then the other would constantly relax and become weak.
If we sit in a chair for eight hours a day, in time, our hip flexors (front of legs) will become shortened or tight. Our brain will automatically start to shut down or inhibit our glute (gluteus) muscles which are on the opposite side as it thinks we are wanting our hip flexors to be constantly active.
Since our glute muscles are not active, our body will ask our opposing muscles such as the hamstrings & lower back muscles to help the glutes in performing hip extension. In other words, we start to ask muscles to help who were not intended to be used for specific actions such as standing up and walking.
Look & see how many people need to use their hands to assist them to stand up. This is because their glutes who should be helping, have been turned off & have become weak. We then develop a forward tilt in our pelvis. When we walk our glutes & hamstrings are not firing specific actions, so our low back muscles end up being tight (start of back pain) & with that our well-loved toned stomach gradually disappears as our abdomen muscles become weak & inhibited aka flabby belly.
This pattern is basically the combination of tight hip flexors & a tight lower back, paired with weak abdominals & weak glutes. This combination leads to an excessive arching or rounding of the lower back (swayback), a flabby or protruding abdomen, & a flat bottom due to weakness in the glutes. With all of this combined we can start to get back aches and pains.
Muscle imbalances are caused by a sedentary lifestyle; a lack of a variety of movements or prolonged static postural stress due to sitting, standing, walking in straight line. Overuse eventually leads to shortening/tightening (not spasm) of postural muscles. The muscles which are not being used will begin to weaken (inhibition of phasic muscles.)
A combination of Chiropractic care & specific bespoke stretches can help the body regain good posture.