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Crop Top Syndrome

Recently I have coined a term for a condition that I see becoming an epidemic among high school athletes, especially females. This syndrome can cause anything from low back pain to knee pain, and even wrist pain in some instances. The core of the problem behind this syndrome is the CORE! Properly bracing the core is (what I have discovered to be) a very misunderstood and often times improperly performed action. The major issue I see amongst athletes when asking them to brace the core is that they do not even seem to have a good grasp of how to breathe through their core.! They are often breathing through their chests. I have called the syndrome the “Crop Top Syndrome”, because often I see these young people sucking in their core because they have it exposed throughout the day. This is not in any way a judgement on their fashion decisions and has everything to do with my observations about functionality. Our core generates the force for all activities and the force looks like a 360-degree brace. Is it aesthetically pleasing…no, but it is a symbol of a functional athlete that will be stronger, faster, and more resilient to injury.... hell yes!

The core consists generally of everything from the bottom of the sternum (chest bone) to the bottom of the butt. There is a lot of anatomy in this region and if the activation of the musculature becomes disorganized then biomechanical issues start to develop. If the biomechanical issues are present for an extended period (varies by individual) then dysfunctional tissue results, which in many cases presents as pain that the individual then seeks care for. The issue, you see, is that if the individual is not assessed by a provider that understands and lives by a "function first" principle, then often the core of the problem is never fixed (see what I did there again 😉). At Function First, when you are being assessed for pain, we are concerned with the first step of break down. If that first step can be addressed and fixed, then everything else falls into place.

This treatment approach is what makes Function First the place to go for assessment of athletic injuries. The assessment and treatment are specific to the athlete and involve an overall evaluation of not just the area of complaint, but of the whole body. In so many cases this leads us to look at the core because if you are not breathing properly, then the system in a simplistic since is not working efficiently and effectively. This leads to the overuse of some muscles and the weakness in other areas. For example, if the core is not bracing properly through a swinging motion (batting and golfing) then over rotation occurs in the lumbar spine that can lead to local low back pain, but even radiation of pain into the knee. The treatment involves rehab of the core and specific stretching of low back tissues. The knee pain is then resolved without even touching the knee. Think this is crazy…call the office and set up an appointment! We love sharing or knowledge with others and helping people get back to what they love doing!

As always, do your stretches!

Dr. Cindy

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