Tag Archives: lower crossed syndrome

Four Components of the Warm Up

One thing that often time gets overlooked is the warmup.  The warmup for my athletes is too important to brush over.  Time is a limiting factor in most of our day at the NCAA level so we use our warmup needs to achieve 4 things in each session:

1. Movement Skills – We utilize a variety of movements throughout the warmup as a means to increasing body temperature but even more importantly as a means of creating some kinesthetic awareness.  We want athletes to understand where their body is in space and recognize what is going on as they move.  This becomes even more important the younger the athlete.  Teaching a variety of skips, shuffles, bounds, jogs, all go towards improving movement skills.  We can then combine various arm swings, circles, etc. to add some complexity to the movement.  Coach Cal Dietz and his contributors over at http://www.XLAthlete.com have put together one of the best resources on general body movement and especially for young athletes.

XL Athlete Youth Dynamic Warm Up

2. Mobility – All warm ups should be geared towards increasing the movement around the joints.  The goal of any warmup should be to prepare the joints for loading and movement.  We can take time throughout our warmup to work on areas where more motion is necessary instead of perhaps using extra time throughout the training session.  Creating mobility throughout the hips and t-spine for example are the foundations of my warm ups.

3. Activation – Our lifestyles, genetics, imbalances all lead to inhibited muscle groups that need specific stimulation.  The most common of these tends to be the glutes in many athletes.  As I’ve written about before on this blog, in Upper and Lower Crossed Syndromes the glutes are just one of many muscles that can shut down.  Doing activation work in a warmup on a daily basis can go a long way in brining those areas around.  Varieties of hip raises, alternating hip raises, single leg stance work, can all be included in warm ups to turn on the glutes prior to training.  The same goes for other inhibited areas as in the lower trap, psoas, or maybe the rotator cuff.

Lower Crossed Syndrome I

Lower Crossed Syndrome II

4. Injury Prevention – Injuries come in plenty of shapes and sizes and we have to look multiple places when preventing injuries.  We may have to look at the sport, the position, male vs female, etc. to determine the best route in injury prevention.  Whatever the case many of these issues can be touched upon in the warmup as well.  A thorough warmup including the previous three pieces in itself serves as great prevention already.

Looking at the four components above may seem like a tall task to perform all in one warmup but we achieve all of this in less than 15 minutes in every one of our warm ups.  You may be asking how…. I like to pair our movement skills with #2 #3 and #4.  We may perform skips or backwards jogs for a desired distance then drop down and perform mobility work on the hips and t-spine.  As we progress through the warmup we move from mobility to more activation ie: hip raises, SL hip raises, etc. and then to injury prevention work which may include some form of rotator cuff, or maybe a strengthening movement for someone susceptible to an ACL injury.


Lower Crossed Syndrome

I came across something in a past article this afternoon that I’m going to expand on.   Knowing many coaches out there may not understand this concept I thought I would break it down a little more clearly.  The concept is that of the lower crossed syndrome.  If any of you have read Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance by Stuart McGill  then you have heard of this syndrome.  At the time I was studying Dr. McGills information I remember not fully understanding the concept, so let’s revisit it here.  

Crossed syndromes were pioneered by famed Czech physiotherapist Vladamir Janda.  Janda extensively studied the structural and functional role of the muscles, and is initially responsible for much of the information on the subject today.  Crossed syndromes are characterized by alternating sides of inhibition (weakness) and facilitation (tightness).  

Lower crossed syndrome is essentially weakened and inactive glutes, and abdominals, especially the transverse abdominus.  Those muscles are weak and inactive.  On the opposing end of the spectrum, the hip flexors, and thoraco-lumbar erectors are extremely tight.   

Lower Crossed Syndrome


Lets take it one at a time, starting with the glutes.  I talk about this being a problem often in athletes.  Weak glutes on the back side lead to hamstring problems and I even mentioned this last week in a post.  On the front side above the pelvis we get weak inactive abdominals.  The abdominals act to statically hold the pelvis in place.  When they are weak and inhibited the pelvis is allowed to shift and move.  We’ll revisit this in a second.   On to the over active musculature.  We start on the back side above the pelvis with the erectors.  These are tight and over active.  Crossing over to the front side we find the hip flexors being the illacus, and psoas to be tight as well. 

What happens when we put this all together?  We get anterior pelvic tilt.  We get this because the hip flexors and back are pulling the pelvis one direction, and the glutes and abdominals do not have the strength to resist this rotation.  The body always works in equal and opposites.  If one side of the body is extremely tight and over active, then the opposite side is going to be weak and inhibited.  Anterior pelvic tilt can cause chronic hamstring injuries.   They are put on a stretch continually, as well as they get no assistance from the inactive glutes.  Other problems like osteo-pubitis (inflammation in the pelvic floor from misalignment) low back pain, and sports hernias can result from anterior pelvic tilt.  

When this concept was first introduced to me I didn’t fully grasp what it was, so hopefully I have shed some light on a confusing topic.   So what do we do in the case of lower crossed syndrome?   Well you’ll have to wait til tomorrow to find out what steps to take to help correct athletes who may have chronic hamstring injuries.