What Is Upper Cross Syndrome?
At some point or another, you’ve probably experienced a sore neck or upper back. Usually, this issue goes away on its own, but it may be a sign of a much more severe chronic condition called Upper Cross (also known as Upper Crossed) Syndrome (UCS).
UCS is generally caused by overly tight chest and rear neck muscles exerting too much force on weak upper back and front neck muscles. The resulting pulling effect causes the shoulders and neck to shrug forward, while the back hunches upward. Symptoms can include a hunched back, worsening posture, headaches, chronic neck and upper back pain, and even degeneration of joints or tissue.
What Causes Upper Cross Syndrome?
One of the biggest causes of UCS is sitting for an extended period of time with poor posture. You might think that your posture is good, but posture often worsens after long periods of sitting, putting more and more strain on the muscles of your back and neck. Poor posture when sitting can also be caused by looking down at your cell phone or computer, reading a book, or sleeping in a chair for too long.
Although posture is a major factor in UCS, sports injuries and improper training technique also play a part. The easiest way to unequally build muscle (one of the causes of UCS) is to neglect certain muscle groups. That’s why it’s important to work muscle groups equally through cross-training, taking care not to favor certain muscle groups over others. Proper stretching and maintaining proper form during activity can also greatly reduce the likelihood of UCS.
How Do You Prevent Upper Cross Syndrome?
Although lifting weights is a great way to lessen the effects of UCS, it’s also a way to make the condition worse. Many individuals focus on strengthening areas of the body that have the greatest visual impact, like the pecs, traps, and biceps, while completely ignoring their upper and lower back. If this practice is continued after an individual develops UCS, it can have even more devastating effects on the body.
Fortunately, there are a few simple stretches and exercises that can help strengthen the muscles in your shoulders and back and reduce the risk of developing or worsening UCS.
Improve Your Posture
Although upper cross can be caused by a number of factors, one of the biggest is posture, either when sitting or exercising. An easy way to improve the symptoms of UCS is to make sure you sit straight with your head squarely between your shoulders, not forward or backward. In the video below, Airrosti’s Dr. Stephen Offenburger explains proper posture technique to help prevent UCS.
Simple Office Stretches
Office workers who spend most of their day seated are at much higher risk of developing UCS due to long periods of inactivity and poor posture, often caused by spending too much time hunched over a computer. In the video below, Dr. Offenburger demonstrates a couple of quick and easy exercises to do at your desk and at the office.
Easy At-Home Exercises
In just a few minutes a day, you can perform a couple of low impact exercises to reduce the impact of UCS. Learn more in the video below, in which Dr. Offenburger recommend the use of a Theraband (resistance band) in your exercise routine — a simple and inexpensive tool you can have on hand at home or at the office.
How Do You Treat Upper Cross Syndrome?
If UCS pain is unresolved through improved posture and preventative exercises, it may start to impact your sleep or make lifting your head unbearable. Untreated UCS can also cause significant problems throughout the body. That’s where Airrosti comes in.
Our providers are experts at addressing the specific problems in the body. Muscular adhesions and trigger points can develop that must be removed to increase the flexibility of the muscles and joints to return full range of motion. We combine highly-targeted manual therapy with specific stretching and strengthening exercises that restore function and prevent future injury.
Stop living with UCS pain. Click here to find a provider near you and schedule today.
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