UPPER CROSSED SYNDROME

Introduction

As we grow older, our posture tends to decline, not only do the shoulders become more rounded, but the head becomes protracted forward and the thoracic spine (or upper back), more curved. Poor posture is the leading cause of upper cross syndrome (UCS), this happens when the muscles in the chest, shoulders and neck become deformed. As you read this article, consider your sitting position, spending hours on laptop and television with your head pushed forward and your back slightly bent for long periods of time can lead to poor posture.

UCS can simply be described as muscle imbalance caused by weak, lengthened upper back and neck muscles on the posterior of your body, and tight, shortened chest and neck muscles on the anterior of your body. The muscles typically involved, are the upper trapezius and the levator scapula, which are the back muscles of the shoulders and neck. Overstretching of the muscles results to strain and making them overactive. Then, the muscles in the front of the chest, called the major and minor pectoralis, become tight and shortened. When these muscles are hyperactive, the encircling counter muscles are underused and become weak. The active muscles and underactive muscles will then overlap therefore inflicting an “X” form or cross to develop on the individual.

Symptoms of Upper Cross Syndrome

Below are the common symptoms of upper crossed syndrome.

  • Low back pain
  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in the upper back and shoulders
  • Trouble sitting for long period

Injury Prevention, Management and Treatment for Upper Cross Syndrome

Exercises alone can be moderately successful in correcting this syndrome but another underlying factor is putting into consideration the number of hours you work or other related activities.

The following posture correction techniques should be used during different activities of daily life.

  1. Sitting: Chin tuck in along with back supported chair is suggested for sitting position
  2. Standing: Spine must be kept in neutral position, neck in straight position with shoulders relaxed.
  3. Sleeping: Keep your neck in a midline position. Avoid prone lying. Use pillows to relax your arms as well as legs.
  4. Working: Take frequent breaks and change your position during activities
  5. Driving: Sit with the seat upright and close enough to the wheel and controls that you do not need to reach forward. Adjust your headrest to the height of your head.

Recommended Exercises for Upper Limb

Lower Trap Retraining I

A spotter is required for this exercise in order to help you locate the appropriate portion of the trap. Lie with your face downward & arm hanging off table, draw/pull the scapula inferiorly and toward the spine, using lower trap and avoiding contraction of upper trapezius or latissimus dorsi

Hold for 5-7 seconds, then slowly let scapula return by releasing lower trap steadily.

Rest for 4 seconds.

Repeat as often as you can perform a good, isolated contraction – up to 10 repetitions (not more than 2-3x/day).

Lower Trap Retraining II

Seat & form a triangle with both thumbs and forefingers, draw/pull the scapula & arms toward the spine, using lower trap and avoiding contraction of upper trapezius or latissimus dorsi.

Hold for 5-7 seconds, then slowly return to starting position.

Rest for 4 seconds.

Repeat as often as you can perform a good, isolated contraction – up to 10 repetitions (not more than 2-3x/day).

Then move on to more standard lower trap and rhomboid strengthening (e.g., rows).

Pectoralis Stretch

Stand in a doorway or corner with both arms on the wall slightly above your head.

Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders.

Hold 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Scapular squeeze

While sitting or standing with your arms by your sides, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for 5 seconds.

Do 3 sets of 10.

Kelvin enjoys taking part in health and fitness activities, and while not exercising, enjoys writing about health and fitness

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