One of the most frequent causes of lower back pain is, interestingly enough, due to common bad posture habits. When individuals sit for long periods of time, often hunched over (for example, to view a computer screen), they unconsciously tighten their hip muscles and simultaneously relax or “turn off” their gluteus and abdominal muscles.
This is due to the principle of reciprocal inhibition, in which one muscle in a related pair of “push-pull” muscle groups shortens and tightens, the other extends and relaxes. Think about your arms – when you flex your biceps muscles, your triceps muscles relax, and vice-versa.
Human bodies were designed to function best when standing and walking, so unfortunately when people sit for extended periods of time (for example, almost a full work day for those with “desk jobs”), and over a period of years, their hip flexor muscles and lower back muscles can become permanently tightened, while their gluteus and abdominal muscles become permanently weakened and lose muscle tone.
This results in a condition called Pelvic Crossed Syndrome (PCS), first identified by Czech physician Vladimir Janda. It is often also called Lower Crossed Syndrome, to distinguish it from a related but very different disorder called Upper Crossed Syndrome.
PCS is what is known as a “silent” disorder, in that it takes years to develop, and initially displays no symptoms. Instead, the symptoms develop slowly, and include increasing curvature of the lower spine, a forward tilt of the pelvis, and overly tight hip, hamstring, and lower back muscles. These conditions can over time manifest in a myriad of more serious conditions, including lower back and knee pain, migraines and tension headaches, respiratory problems, fibromyalgia, and more.
Fortunately, PCS can be effectively treated by a chiropractor. Following an examination and diagnosis of PCS, your chiropractor can undertake a treatment regimen that includes chiropractic adjustments to the hypomobile sacroiliac joint and lumbar spine to relieve the structural imbalances that have developed. At the same time they may use massage, electro- stimulation, and other techniques to relax the overly tight muscle groups, and prescribe exercises to strengthen the muscle groups that have been weakened.
The treatment may take some time (several months), because muscle imbalances like PCS develop over time, and require time to be restored to their proper state of balance. But with a conscientiously applied program of chiropractic and rehabilitative care, the combination of adjustments, stretching and exercise can reverse the muscle imbalance and restore freedom of movement and normal muscle strength.
Many patients report relief from their symptoms of back and leg pain very quickly, and over time notice marked improvements to their posture. This enables them to walk and exercise more easily, and to thus continue to strengthen the muscle groups that have become weakened over the years.