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Are You Sitting 6-8 Hours a Day? You Could Have Layered Cross Syndrome

Low back pain is the number one cause of pain in America, maybe the entire Western World. Today’s culture is about inactivity and having everything at your fingertips; why get up if you don’t have to? That’s the whole problem, you’re not getting up, and your back is killing you. Just the price to pay for “easy living.”

If you’re sitting right now reading this, pause and be aware of your position. How long have you been sitting, and how much longer will you continue sitting? Add this up over weeks, months, and years; yes, this is why your low back hurts. Because people sit for so long daily, a syndrome was named to describe the physical effects. Layered Cross Syndrome is what medical and fitness professionals call the anterior tilt of the pelvis, excessive lumbar lordosis (curvature of the lumbar spine), rounded shoulders, and forward head position. You probably don’t notice it in the mirror because that’s your “normal” posture; trust me, it’s not normal.

The anterior, or lowering, of your pelvis comes from overly tight hip flexors and quadriceps that pull your low back muscles up and out of alignment. This causes the excess curvature in your lumbar spine and the pain you feel. It also lengthens your hamstrings and glutes, weakening them. Look around your office, when you go shopping, and even the gym, you will see people with this positioning in their hips.

The downward pull of your pelvis directly affects your shoulders and head. The body is interconnected through a concept called regional interdependence. This means that a dysfunction or injury in one area affects the rest of the body as it compensates for the lack of mobility, flexibility, and strength. Your core muscles in the abdomen become overly tight, pulling down your shoulders and neck from sitting too long and staring into a device and computer. Standing up straight hurts because the front of you is tight and contracted, while the back of you is lengthened and weak.

Unfortunately, the common response to this syndrome is stretching the hamstrings because “it feels good.” All you’re doing is making the problem worse. Here are two stretches and two exercises to overcome Layered Cross Syndrome:

Bird Dog
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
  • Kneeling hip flexors stretch – get on one knee with the opposite leg in a 90-degree angle between your knee and foot. Sit up straight with your back foot on the toe, and gently lean forward until you feel a stretch. Hold for 20-30 seconds then switch legs. Do this 1-2 times before switching.
  • Floor cobra – lay face down with your hands in a push-up position under your shoulders. Push your upper body up as high as you can to fully extend your arms while leaving your pelvis touching the ground. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds then slowly lower yourself down to the start. Repeat 1-2 times.
  • Bird dog – get on your hands and knees keeping your back flat. Extend your opposite arm and leg to full extension, hold for a count, and return to the starting position. Do this on each side for 15-20 reps, then switch. Perform 1-3 sets as a warmup or exercise depending on the workout and goal.
  • Plank trio – perform a plank on your elbows and toes for 30 seconds, then immediately turn on to one forearm and hold yourself in a side plank for 30 seconds, and then do the same for the opposite side. Perform this trio for 1-3 sets depending on the goal and workout or warmup.
Side plank

Stretching is only half the battle, and you lose the battle when you stretch an already overlengthened muscle. You have to strengthen the low back and hips to get the complete benefit of eliminating low back pain from sitting. Be sure to sign up for my program, Overcoming Chronic Pain Through Stretching & Strengthening, to fix all areas of your pain from sitting. I guarantee it to work for you or your money back! Why wait, sign up today and you could also get a free copy of my book, The Athlete in the Game of Life. Stop the insanity and make a difference in YOUR LIFE! If you don’t fix yourself, nobody will do it for you.

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