Upper Cross Syndrome

Written by- Dr.Roberts

Upper Cross Syndrome is a trendy name for a condition that is a functional muscle and posture imbalance. Functional meaning that it has been trained, and therefore can be untrained.

The pattern of Upper Cross Syndrome consists of tight chest and posterior neck muscles combined with overstretched and inhibited upper back and anterior neck muscles. Visually this translates to forward rounding of the shoulders and slouching while the head is projected in front of the body. This mechanical disadvantage also stresses the joints of the neck and upper back.

Upper Cross Syndrome is developed from many hours of maintaining this posture. Being sedentary predisposes you to this pattern, specifically if your back muscles are deconditioned. You can also train this pattern by improper strength and conditioning programs that are overly focused on loading the chest muscles. If you can press more than you can squat or deadlift, you have a problem!

Most often, the symptoms are felt locally at the upper back and posterior neck but tension headaches can also be a result of this condition.

To fix the symptoms you need to stop reinforcing the pattern. Sitting up straight is a good start but can be difficult after so many accumulated hours training otherwise. So it is important to add some exercises to speed up the results.

Here are the basic concepts to manage this condition:

  1. Posture

Shoulders rolled back in line with the trunk and your head looking straight ahead with your ears aligned over the front 1/3 of your shoulders.

  1. Stretch

Pecs, anterior deltoids, and biceps

  1. Strengthen

Erector spinae, inter-scapular muscles, lats, and posterior deltoids

  1. General Conditioning

Cardiovascular exercises will help condition all muscles in general and will reduce your discomfort.

  1. Therapy

Useful in order to help with proper exercise selection and technique, more advanced methods of stretching, as well as addressing joint stiffness and restriction.

If you are going to sit for a while it is best to sit with good posture to reduce improper loading of muscles and joints. But most importantly, remember the body is meant to move!

Dr. Roberts