Complied By Binumon Joseph, Registered Physiotherapist
Upper crossed syndrome refers to a particular configuration of overlapping overactive and under-active muscle groups in the neck, chest, and shoulders. Typically, poor posture causes the syndrome, including the forward head posture, which occurs when people use electronic devices, read, and drive. Those with upper crossed syndrome usually have the same or similar set of postural irregularities that people may describe as slouching. Many different stretching and strengthening exercises exist that usually offer relief for symptoms of upper crossed syndrome.
Fast facts on upper crossed syndrome
With upper crossed syndrome the muscles of the shoulders, neck, and chest have become deformed.
Specifically, the back muscles of the neck and shoulders (upper trapezius, and levator scapula) become extremely overactive and strained. The muscles in the front of the chest (the major and minor pectoralis muscles) become shortened and tight. As a result of these overactive muscles, the surrounding counter muscles become underused and weakened. In upper crossed syndrome, this causes weak muscles in the front of the neck (cervical flexor muscles) and in the lower shoulders (rhomboid and lower trapezius muscles). The condition gets its name from the "x" shape that develops when regions of overactive and under-active muscles overlap.
Poor posture can be a cause of upper crossed syndrome.
Different movements can cause upper crossed syndrome, but most cases develop through poor posture, specifically sitting or standing with the head forward for prolonged periods. Activities that promote this postural position include:
Common characteristics of upper crossed syndrome include:
The best way to treat upper crossed syndrome is through exercise and postural changes. Though some people may feel a lot of discomfort when stretching, it is important that they attempt some form of gentle exercise as restricting activity can cause stiffness and soreness.
People must ensure they warm up their tissues before exercising, either with gradual, gentle motions or by having a warm bath or shower. Begin all exercises gently and build up slowly.
The best way to prevent and treat upper crossed syndrome is to avoid activities that require stretching the head forward for extended periods of time.
Other tips for preventing upper crossed syndrome include:
Correcting or practicing proper posture is also an important part of avoiding and treating upper crossed syndrome.
What influenced your decision to become a Massage Therapist/Osteopath?
I have always been interested in studying natural ways to heal the human body. I had lots of experience growing up getting treatment from a naturopath, chiropractor, massage, physio etc to keep me healthy for playing sports. My athletic therapist at the time was undergoing their osteopathic studies and wanted to practice techniques on me. My first treatment was something I never had experienced before it was deeply relaxing and therapeutic. I felt a deep connection to that approach to healing and wanted to learn more.
What are the top three most common issues you help clients address?
1) Back Pain 2) Neck Pain 3) Stress & Anxiety
What types of conditions/injuries do you enjoy treating?
1) Back pain 2) Headaches 3) Foot problems
What types of treatment methods/approaches do you use?
I use a lot of trigger point therapy, fascial techniques, muscles stripping.
What is your treatment philosophy?
To help patients heal themselves and work with them in a relaxed setting. Educating them or guiding them so they are more aware of their own body.
What is Osteopathy?
Osteopathy is a hands on manual therapy aiming to remove any barriers to health by treating the causes of pain and imbalances.
Who would likely benefit from an Osteopathic appointment?
Most office workers would benefit but anyone can experience an improvement from an Osteopathic appointment. Similar to a massage it can also promote relaxation and stress relief as well as relieve muscle tension.
If you could give everyone one piece of advice this winter what would it be?
Bundle up and get some fresh air.
What do you like to do for fun?
Hiking, reading yoga!
Written by the team at Rebound Health and Wellness