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.


    1. Thanks so much for the heads up. I try to be as accurate as I can with my information. I appreciate the article and will post it in the next few days. I have always been a big fan of Janda and his work and will continue to study his methods.

  1. I am working on designing book for the AMTA and we wanted to use the image in your post. Could you tell me where to find it so I can contact the proper publisher? Thanks!

Leave a Comment