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Posture Exercises Phase 2

Posture Exercise Phase 2: Modern Desk Jockey Podcast Transcription

Hey, Desk Jockeys, this is Dr. Kevin Christie. I’m going to keep it real short today on the intro. I want to jump into the posture exercises phase 2 that I promised you after our posture phase 1 episode. If you have any questions on any of this, you can email me at kevin@moderndeskjockey.com. And again, all the exercises and such from this show in show notes will be at moderndeskjockey.com so make sure to check that out.

Lower Crossed Syndrome

So on the last episode of the posture discussion, we talked about the upper crossed syndrome and then some solutions for that. Today we’re going to discuss the lower crossed syndrome which is going to affect the low back and even the lower extremities. And so when we’re dealing with the lower crossed syndrome I want you to envision that crossed aspect again. And what it means is that we’re going to have weak abdominals and then we’re going to have weak glutes. So it goes diagonally down. And then opposing that we’re going to have tight low back and tight hip flexors.

Lower Crossed Syndrome

So to sum that up it’s going to be tight hip flexors, tight low back. The hip flexors are right on the front part of the hip. When you sit a lot those hip flexors are going to be contracted. So keep that in mind as I go through this. The abdominals are going to be weak, and the glutes are going to be weak.

So essentially we’re going to have weak core stability when we have the lower crossed syndrome. And we see this a lot in people that do sit because when you’re in the seated position, your hip flexors are going to be in a shortened position, so they’re going to be tight and short.

This lower crossed syndrome can be applied to everything from sports to work, to sitting. But we’re going to obviously apply it to sitting today. So what ends up happening is when the hip flexors become tight, you have something called reciprocal inhibition or neurological inhibition.

And simply what that is is if I want to say flex my bicep my triceps has to relax. So the antagonist muscle or the opposing group has to relax to be able to facilitate the other muscle group and get joint movement. The brain does this quickly and subtly.

But it also does it just when we sit, and we have decondition-type syndromes. And so if your hip flexors are chronically tight it’s going to neurologically inhibit the glute muscles or the buttocks. And that becomes a problem because a lot of times we just prescribe glute exercises for people or even core, but unless you address the tight hip flexors, you’re going to be feeding that dysfunction sometimes and not getting the progress you think you should.

And so a lot of times we have to take it one step further and work on some hip flexor relaxation techniques, stretching, muscle work to free that up so it’s not shutting off those glutes. And the same thing happens when the low back is tight. If your low back is tight and you try to do a lot of abdominal work, it’s not going to allow that properly.

So we want to make sure that we have a comprehensive approach to addressing this lower crossed syndrome.

From a physically visual standpoint a lot of times folks that suffer from the tight hip flexors and subsequently the lower crossed syndrome, you’ll see a real deep arch to the low back. Not always but a lot of times you’ll see that anterior or forward pelvic tilt which is causing that – what we call lordosis but a deep arching to the low back and that can cause some low back pain also, tightness in those muscles, facet type syndrome which is – the facet joints are the joints of the posterior spine, and they can compress a little bit too much when it’s in that arching position.

So that’s a lot of times what it looks like from a postural standpoint – and I’ll have a nice image on the show notes that depicts this because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s a lot easier to see it versus to visually or verbally explain it to you. But check that out so you can see what it is.

And then really when we design our exercises to address this lower crossed syndrome we’re going to try to give, from an exercise standpoint again, some flexibility drills for the hip flexors. So I’ll have that in the show notes. We like to do what’s called a tri-plane or hip flexor stretch which just means in three planes of motion you’re going to be doing this stretch for the hip flexors.

Second, we want to make sure we target some glute activations or exercises really, and we’ll put a glute bridge on there, and there are a few others that can be done obviously. Sometimes one of the misconceptions people have is that they can do heavy squats and lunges and all these advanced exercises, and that will strengthen and activate the glutes properly.

In some cases yes, it can but you also to do those advanced exercises you may be feeding that dysfunction even more. So if your glutes are weak, you might recruit too many hamstrings and adductors and low back actually to do it. So sometimes you’ve got to get a little more remedial on your exercises to facilitate those weak glutes.

So we’re going to have an exercise to work on that. We’re also going to give a few good abdominal/core stability exercises that are safe. One of the mistakes a lot of people make is they do abdominal crunches with the feet anchored, and you’re doing more of a hip flexor exercise at that point. You will be getting some abdominals, but you’re going to also overwork those hip flexors and then cause more issues. So we’ll give you some abdominal work to do that.

And as far as the low back I don’t like to prescribe any stretches for the low back. It’s not indicated for most people, and it can cause more damage than it is good. Sometimes they can help, there’s only a couple that we give, but it’s pretty infrequent.

So what we recommend is getting some muscle work done on the low back. If you’re really having chronic hypertonicity or tightness in the low back and maybe some trigger points and even sometimes spasm, some really good muscle work whether it’s massage or active release technique or any other type of manual therapy to try to work on that, it would really help that out because it can be hard to get proper core stability if the muscles are riddled with scar tissue, adhesions, trigger points and the like. So make sure you take that into consideration.

So that’s going to be the way we target the lower crossed syndrome, and it’s going to help prevent a lot of your low back pain, especially if you’re a desk worker only. If you also happen to be into fitness or running or any other type of sport this lower crossed syndrome can cause lower extremity issues. And simply that happens because if the glutes are shut down and not working, and the core is bad, you’re going to feel the kinetic chain results all the way down.

A lot of times the knee positioning during any squatting or agility movements, anything that you would see in almost any sport you’re not going to get proper knee tracking and stability if the hips aren’t stabilized during those movements. And a lot of times the hips won’t stabilize if the glute dysfunction is present.

So we see that a lot. You know, we see that a lot, we get runner’s knee, and we trace it back to tight hip flexors because the hip flexors are tight causing the glutes to be weak as we mentioned and then from there causing tracking issues with the knee or it kind of caves in medially and inwardly causing all kinds of issues.

So we won’t dive too much into that. Probably in another episode we’re going to start having some active lifestyle type subject matters and dive into some of that. So for right now understand that lower crossed syndrome is very common in the desk workers and that it causes all kinds of low back conditions, hip conditions, and lower extremity issues. So make sure we fix it.

Moving on to the third aspect of today’s podcast and then wrapping it up from there is one way that you can work on providing core stability for you and that is abdominal bracing. I’m going to have a nice image in the show notes for this too and how to do it. But essentially you should be able to brace your abdominals like if someone were going to give you a little stomach punch you would brace naturally. And you should be able to – like right now I’m bracing my abdominals and I’m talking, and I’m breathing. So you should be able to function with it. It’s not like sucking in like a lot of people think, and that’s where it’s hard to breathe or do any function.

So try to implement the abdominal brace throughout your day when you’re sitting, just kind of work on it and then during any lifting or activities work on the abdominal brace. It will give you that muscular corset around the spine.

Envision a canister of tennis balls. The tennis balls being your spine and the canister being the muscles around it. It provides that stability to the tennis balls. If you remove the canister, the tennis balls collapse, and that’s just what happens basically to your spine without that muscular corset around the spine you end up putting a lot of stress on it. So understand that.

But yeah, to wrap up today’s podcast, just make sure you understand what the lower cross syndrome is, implement the exercises that I went over with you and will be in the show notes and then try to do the abdominal bracing throughout the day to activate the core and to definitely do it during movements.

I hope you enjoyed this episode on posture. We will have really good show notes on this one for you, and I encourage you to print that out and do a little bit of research on this. So until next time, I’ll see you next week. Have a good one.