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Self-help Tips for Upper Crossed Syndrome?

A woman’s back and neck, holding a blue massage ball to neck. Targeting trigger points.

June 20th, 2018 45 post views

Upper Cross Syndrome can occur in all types of people as it results from a poor posture. It is very common in people who spend long days in front of a desk with a hunched back.

There are some simple things you can do at home that can help reduce Upper Cross Syndrome from occurring.

What Does Upper Cross Syndrome Look Like?

The signs to look for are, a forward head position, rounded shoulders and neck, protracted shoulder blades (scapula) and winging of the shoulder blades.

Man facing right with rounded shoulders and a forward head position. All signs of Upper Cross Syndrome.

Visual of signs of Upper Cross Syndrome

What Happens to the muscles with Upper Cross Syndrome?

The muscles at the front (Pectoralis Major/Minor) and around the back of the neck (Upper Trapezius/ Levator Scapula) shorten in a content contraction. These are called facilitated muscles.

The muscles at the middle back (Middle/Lower Trapezius, Rhomboid Major/Minor) lengthen. This are called inhibited muscles.

We need to get the facilitated muscles to lengthen/stretch.

We need to get the inhibited muscles to re activate and contract to its normal range.

For more information on upper cross syndrome see my blog ‘how can sports massage help upper cross syndrome?’ .

What Can You Do To Help Upper Cross Syndrome?

There are three things you need to remember.

  1. Activate – Get muscle moving properly
  2. Posture – Think about how you stand/sit
  3. Strengthen – Get the muscles stronger

Activate

Don’t stay too long at your desk. Those with desk jobs are most at risk as they spend a lot of the time hunched over a computer screen.

Some offices are helping this by introducing stand up desks.

Try taking small breaks away from your desk, walking around; any sort of activity will help activate your muscles.

This also applies to those who work with their arms in front of them all the time. E.g. labourers, electricians etc.

Posture

Working on your posture is key; you do not want to maintain a rounded shoulder. Always think tall and imagine you are pressing a pencil between your shoulder blades.

You can try raising your computer screen so that it is eye level to reduce hunching over. You can do this by placing books under the monitor.

Look at your chair. You can put a cushion at the lumbar spine (small of the back). This will help prevent slouching.

Woman working at desk with a raised monitor to help reduce Upper Cross Syndrome.

Raised monitor when working at desk to help reduce Upper Cross Syndrome.

Man facing right with retracted shoulders and a neutral head position. Good posture.

Visual demonstration of good posture.

Strengthen

By doing some basic strength exercises you can help realign your muscles and improve your posture at the same time.

These are a few exercises you can do to help activate the inhibited muscles (in-between shoulder blades). A foam mat or soft surface is needed.

Front Raise Thumb up

This exercise for activating the rhomboids is called Front Raise Thumb up.

  1. You start by lying on your front head down.
  2. You place your arm above your head with thumbs up towards the ceiling.
  3. Then you raise your arms off the floor keeping your elbows straight.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  5. Hold for 15 Seconds then rest for 30 Seconds (dependant on ability)
  6. Repeat 3 times.
    Man lying on front head down with arms out stretched above head contracting rhomboid muscles. Far away view.

    Visual demonstration of Front Raise Thumb Up exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome.

    Man lying on front head down with arms out stretched above head contracting rhomboid muscles. Close view.

    Close visual demonstration of Front Raise Thumb Up exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome.

External Rotation

This exercise for activating the rhomboids is called External rotation.

  1. Start by lying on your side with knees slightly bent and head resting on arm on floor.
  2. Hold the other arm in front of you extended, resting on the floor.
  3. Then slowly externally rotate (lift up) into the air to be in line with the shoulder, Keeping the arm straight.
  4. Pull the shoulder blades together. Hold at the top for 8 seconds then move slowly back down to the floor.
  5. Repeat 5 times on each arm.
  6. Can progress by adding small weight (Dumbbells or a can of soup)
    : Man lying on side with knees slightly bent and head resting on arm on floor with the opposite arm held in front straight resting on the floor.

    Visual demonstration of External Rotation exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome (arm down)

    Man lying on side with knees slightly bent and head resting on arm on floor with the opposite arm straight in air in line with shoulder.

    Visual demonstration of External Rotation exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome (arm up)

Scapulae Retractions

This exercise for activating the rhomboids is called Scapulae Retractions.

  1. You start by lying on your front with your head down.
  2. Place arms straight out to the sides at 90 degrees resting on the floor.
  3. Squeezing your shoulder blades together to activate the rhomboids and raise your arms up.
  4. Hold for 10 Seconds then rest for 20 Seconds (dependant on ability)
  5. Repeat 3 times.
    Man lying on front head down arms straight at the sides at 90 degrees resting on the floor.

    Visual demonstration of Scapulae Retractions exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome (arms down)

    Man lying on front head down arms straight at the sides with rhomboids activated arms raised.

    Visual demonstration of Scapulae Retractions exercise for Upper Cross Syndrome (arms raised)

Self-Massage At Home:

If you are suffering with neck or back pain at home after a long day at work, you can do something to help ease these symptoms alongside these exercises.

Self-massage is a way for you to deactivate trigger points (knots) or stretch out the muscles from home.

If you have a tennis ball or massage ball you can hold this against your neck/back muscles and roll.

Target the sore spots and hold it on them until the pain dulls or for 20 seconds.

The pain should never go over 7/10.

A woman’s back and neck, holding a blue massage ball to neck. Targeting trigger points.

Self-massage with massage ball to ease Upper Cross Syndrome.

Pectoralis Stretches

You can also try some pectoralis stretches, using a door frame.

Lean your arm against the surface about 90 degrees at shoulder and at elbow. Push against until you feel the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds then come off, relax. Repeat 3 times.

Keep it up!

To prevent or correct upper cross syndrome, it is like any form of training. You have to keep these things going, if you want results. Maintain these self-help tips and you will see amazing outcomes.

The chiropractors and massage therapists here at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne can offer lots of self help tips and posture exercises, please take a look at some of the other blogs you’ll find here and have a look at our website.

Thanks for reading.

Lizzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

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