The most effective Clinical Somatics exercises to resolve lower crossed syndrome
First, if you’re not familiar with pandiculation and why it’s the most effective way to reset gamma loop activity and release chronic muscle tension, I recommend that you read What is Pandiculation?
Below I’ve listed the exercises from the Level One & Two Courses that are most helpful for releasing the pattern of muscle contraction present in lower crossed syndrome. Pandiculation exercises don’t just release chronic muscle contraction—they also improve voluntary control of inactive muscles. So, there are exercises listed below that work with the abdominals and gluteus maximus as well as the thoracolumbar extensors and hip flexors.
If you’re just starting your Clinical Somatics practice, be sure to read Developing Your Own Daily Practice.
If your time and attention for practicing these exercises is limited, I recommend doing the first four exercises listed below (Arch & Flatten, Back Lift, Arch & Curl, and Iliopsoas Release), followed by Proprioceptive Exercise 1 from Level Two.
LEVEL ONE COURSE
Arch & Flatten: This exercise is the most basic movement in Clinical Somatics, and works directly with the muscles involved in lower crossed syndrome. The Arch & Flatten allows you to release and regain voluntary control of the extensors of the lower back and the abdominals.
Back Lift: This exercise allows you to release and regain control of the extensors of the back and the gluteal muscles.
Arch & Curl: This exercise is a bigger version of the Arch & Flatten. If your back muscles are tight, engaging your abdominal muscles to curl up may be challenging at first, but it will get easier as your back muscles release.
Iliopsoas Release: This exercise works directly with releasing tension in the iliopsoas, which is central to lower crossed syndrome.
One-sided Arch & Curl and Diagonal Arch & Curl: These have the same benefits as the Arch & Curl, but they focus on one side of your body at a time, allowing you to even out imbalances in your muscular patterns.
Hip Rotation: While internal or external hip rotation is not a defining element of lower crossed syndrome, some of the muscles that rotate the hip are the same as those that flex the hip. So, working with releasing and regaining control of the hip rotators is another way to address the overactive hip flexors and inactive gluteus maximus that are present in lower crossed syndrome.
Flowering Arch & Curl: This is a full-body version of the Arch & Curl, involving arching and curling of the back, internal and external rotation of the arms, and internal and external rotation of the hips. You can practice this movement once you’re very comfortable with the Arch & Curl and Hip Rotation exercises.
LEVEL TWO COURSE
Proprioceptive Exercise 1: This is a very important exercise for anyone with lower crossed syndrome to practice regularly, as it allows you to retrain your posture and proprioception (your internal sense of your body position). This exercise is practiced in front of a full-length mirror, allowing you to compare how your posture feels internally to what you see in the mirror.
Quadriceps Releases: The rectus femoris (a quadriceps muscle) flexes the hip, and is tight in lower crossed syndrome. It is important to practice Quadriceps Release Version 1 regularly if you can. If you cannot do it comfortably, do Version 2, and be sure to practice the Iliopsoas Release regularly as well until you are able to do Version 1.
Gluteal Release: This exercise pandiculates the gluteus maximus, allowing you to regain voluntary control.
Iliotibial Band Release: This exercise pandiculates the IT band and tensor fascia latae (TFL); the TFL assists in hip flexion, so it can be tight in lower crossed syndrome.
Standing Hamstring Release: While called a hamstring release, this exercise also pandiculates the extensors of the back and the gluteal muscles.
Seated Hamstring Release: This is not a true pandiculation, but it involves slowly bending and then lengthening each leg one at a time. The back is also lengthened in this exercise, which is why it can be helpful for lower crossed syndrome. If you’re not in pain, this exercise feels good; but if you have back pain or disc issues, I recommend skipping this one.
Head & Knee Lifts: Similar to the Back Lift, this exercise allows you to release and regain control of the extensors of the back and the gluteal muscles.