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Self-help Tips for Upper Crossed Syndrome?

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


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.


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.


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.








How Can Sports Massage Help Upper Cross Syndrome?

Upper Cross Syndrome is a condition that results from poor posture and inactivity. Sports massage is a brilliant way to help reduce the aches and pains that are associated with people who spend long hours in front of a desk.

Working in Eastbourne at Lushington Chiropractic I have come across many people unknowingly suffering from upper cross syndrome. They suffer with upper back pain, mainly between their shoulder blades. This is more noticeable after a long day at work in front of a desk or at a computer.

Image shows man who is suffering from upper cross syndrome

Upper Cross Syndrome

What is Upper Cross Syndrome?

It is a result of poor sitting positions adopted by people when working at desks for prolonged periods of time. Unfortunately for many the requirements of most jobs involve many hours in the same stationary posture resulting in the upper body slowly becoming hunched. This causes facilitated muscles (tightened muscles) and inhibited muscles (lengthened and weakened muscles).

The result:

  • Forward head
  • Increased rounding of the neck and hunching of the upper back
  • Rounded shoulders (Elevated and protracted shoulder blades)
  • winging of the shoulder blades (scapula), where the shoulder blades come away from the rib-cage

Facilitated Muscles:

Facilitated muscles are shortened, as they’re in constant contraction, reducing movement.

  • Upper Trapezius (tops of the shoulders)
  • Levator Scapula (top of the upper back)
  • Pectoralis Major/Minor (front of the chest)

Inhibited Muscles

Inhibited muscles lengthen as they’ve lost activation and cannot fully contract.

  • The Deep Cervical Flexors (front of the neck)
  • Middle/Lower Trapezius (middle of the back)
  • Rhomboid Major/Minor (between shoulder blades)

This imbalance creates joint dysfunction in the neck, the spine and the shoulders.

Image shows lady sitting in front of a laptop computer who has a poor sitting position which could cause upper cross syndrome

Poor sitting position could be the cause of tight or weak muscles.

Upper Cross Syndrome is seen in Swimming

As a swimmer for Eastbourne swimming club, I have trained and competed with some amazing athletes. Not many people know that in swimming Upper Cross Syndrome is very common.

In swimmers, due to the upper body power needed, there is often a tightening in the pectoral muscles. This causes a rounded shoulder frame.

If left unseen to, this can cause the swimmer problems during training sessions and also competitions, often leaving the swimmer unable to train. One week out of the pool for a swimmer takes two weeks to get back to the original standard.

This can be costly for competitors.

The Dangers of Upper Cross Syndrome

If you’ve got upper cross syndrome you’re at more risk of developing neck, back and shoulder pain or injury.

When you’ve got upper cross syndrome there’s more pressure on your neck joints and strain on the muscles around your shoulders and upper back. These get achy, sore and can even result in early wear and tear.

In upper crossed posture your shoulder blades may “wing” (stick out), which can pinch or catch on the tendons around your shoulder. This pinching can result in shoulder pain and injury (e.g. tendinopathy).

Image shows man with 'winged shoulder blades'. In upper crossed posture your shoulder blades may “wing” (stick out),

Winging of the scapula


How Can Sports Massage Help?

Sports Massage can be a brilliant tool to help reduce upper cross syndrome as it can target the individual muscles being affected.

For those “tightened muscles” such as the Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapulae, Pectoralis Major/Minor, massage can help stretch and relax the muscle back into their natural condition. We can also advise on relevant exercises and stretches to help improve things faster.

For the “inhibited muscles” massage can help reactivate and stimulate them back into working order.

Since working at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne I have found immediate results. Massage can have a visual improvement after the first session.

It is important to work on your posture as the muscles will start going back into their old bad upper cross posture.

Image shows lady sitting correctly whilst working on her laptop. It is important to work on your posture as the muscles will start going back into their old bad upper cross posture.

It is important to work on your posture as the muscles will start going back into their old bad upper cross posture.

What Next?

For upper cross syndrome it is important to work on strengthening those inhibited muscles as soon as possible. For Advice on how to do so look out for my next blog, Self-Help Tips For Upper Cross Syndrome.

This will explore easy ways to help correct your posture in day to day activities, including when at work. It will also take you through some easy activation exercises.

Look forward to seeing you next time,

Lizzie your Eastbourne sports massage therapist


Active isolated stretching

What is Active Isolated Stretching (A.I.S)?

The experts at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne explain what active isolated stretching is and how it can be used effectively as part of a health and wellbeing programme.

Active Isolated Stretching is a stretching technique used by the massage therapists here at Eastbourne Chiropractic to help relieve tight and aching muscles. It is a technique created by Aaron Mattes, an American kinesiologist and massage therapist.

AIS is a system of stretches done in a specific way to bring oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue. The stretches are done in a specific order and a very specific way. It makes use of reciprocal inhibition that says if you contract the thigh muscle the muscles at the back of the leg will relax and lengthen thus providing these muscles with a stretch.

In A.I.S the stretches are also done in a unique manner the stretch is applied to the muscle and a few extra pounds of pressure is applied until mild discomfort is felt in the muscle this is then held for around two seconds then released back down in a controlled manner.

How does AIS work?

The idea behind this is to encourage something called the stretch reflex in the muscle, which switches on after a few seconds to stop the muscle being overstretched. The theory is that once the stretch reflex is initiated, the muscle is in a held state and this constricts oxygen and nutrient flow to the muscle which in turn delays the repair process.

This principle follows the same theory that if you want to increase the muscle strength and size you would use resistance and repetitions to facilitate better function.  The stretches will be done for repetitions usually around ten with an aim of increasing the range by two degrees with each repetition, thus gaining an improvement of twenty degrees in the range of motion.

Active isolated stretching uses stretching protocols done in a specific order to address imbalances in the muscles. These stretches are then combined with strengthening exercises to remedy any imbalances.

A.I.S is a really effective aid in reducing tension and tightness in the muscle and as a warm up or cool down before and after sport or physical activity. For more information on A.I.S in Eastbourne, why not consult the team at Lushington Chiropractic to discuss your needs.

Eastbourne Chiropractors advise against carrying infants in their car seat

Mums and dads are being advised  not to leave their babies in their car seat when outside of the vehicle. The advice coincides with Lushington Chiropractic’s focus on posture this month.

The Chiropractors at Lushington in Eastbourne say that keeping your baby in a car seat for long periods can be detrimental to their posture. In a car seat, a child’s spine remains in a C-shape, preventing the natural curves of the neck and lower back from forming.

There is evidence that babies left in car seats for a long period of time may have difficulty breathing because of the pressure created by this unnatural sitting position.  While modern car seats offer important safety and security during travel, parent should be aware that babies should not be left in them for extended periods of time. This means taking regular breaks on long journeys and transferring babies to an appropriate pram when away from the vehicle.

A car seat can affect your back health, too

It should also be highlighted that carrying a baby in a car seat by hand is difficult and potentially dangerous for the parent. Car seats may come equipped with handles but they are cumbersome and difficult to carry by one’s side. Most people lean forward and twist when they get the seats in and out of the car. The spine is strong and stable but it does struggle to cope with the combination of leaning and twisting under a substantial load. Even the lightest of babies can put stress on the spine when combined with the weight of the seat itself.

When walking around, a good quality sling or wrap is much better for you and baby if you need to carry them. Make sure that the sling is of sufficient quality and that the baby is held within it properly: get a sling that puts their hips in a correct position, like you have a little koala hanging on to you, then the weight is distributed properly which helps to encourage proper musculoskeletal development.

Research references: 

 Timothy Littlefield, et al., Car Seats, Infant Carriers, and Swings: Their Role in deformational Plagiocephaly Journal of Prosthetics & Orthotics 15 (July 2003): 102-106.

Wall-Scheffler C, Geiger K, Steudel-Numbers K. Infant carrying: The increased locomotory costs in early development. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 2007; 133: 841-846. Doi: 10,1002/ajpa.20603

Hunziker UA, Barr RZ.  Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying: A randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics 1986;77(5): 641-648

This article was written by James Revell (Doctor of Chiropractic) at Lushington Chiropractic

Lushington Chiropractic is a multi-award winning chiropractic and sports massage clinic in Eastbourne town centre. We provide a range of treatments from expert chiropractic care to nutritional therapy, counselling, acupuncture, podiatry, sports massage and relaxing massage.

We genuinely care about our patients and improving their quality of life. We have an extremely professional and dedicated team who deliver the highest service and have over 80 years expertise between them.

Suffering with back pain, neck pain, muscle spasms or joint aches then call today to see why over 8,000 local people have already chosen Lushington to help them: 01323 722499.


Top 10 Posture and Body Sins

Top Ten Posture and Body Sins

People often say to me as a chiropractor, why is my posture/body like this? Why did these joints get stiff, muscles get tight etc?  Why is it that they don’t stay good and I keep needing help?

Well the best way I can explain it is to get you thinking about your everyday life.  There are many stresses on the body but the main ones can be thought of in terms of three main categories. These are physical stressors, emotional stressors and chemical stressors.  The first two are pretty self explanatory; the third category chemical includes things like the food that we eat or don’t eat.  Think about what are you exposed to on a day-to-day basis, what do you do?  Our modern daily lifestyle isn’t quite tailored to how we are designed or what we were made for.

I have made a list below of some of the top ten body or posture sins that many of us commit.  How many can you relate to?

1.) “It’s normal to have a bit of neck/back ache isn’t it?”

This is typical of our stoic British attitude.  We get on with things, we get used to it and don’t necessarily realise that things can actually be improved and we don’t have to suffer as much.  People’s favourite for this is headaches.  When I ask my patients how often do you get headaches, the reply is more often than not, “Oh, not very often just the usual.”

Just the usual! What is usual? Is it right or normal that we should be getting headaches?  So, the first sin that we commit is accepting our lot.  Not getting help, not realising our potential.

2)  Driving/Commuting 

A common part of many people’s modern daily life.  Each day millions of people sit on their way to work before sitting at their desk for several hours. To top it all off, there’s often another long commute home. Our back/body doesn’t like to be in one position for long periods at a time, particularly with the lower back sat in flexion (slumped).  This puts more pressure on the lower back and discs.  We are particularly at risk if we have to sit for long periods and then jump up and do something very active.  

3.) Poor desk set up/ Working on a laptop 

Many of us are at fault with this.  We sit with poor posture looking down at a computer or laptop.  Our chair may be less than ideal or we may be constantly sat at a twisted angle due to phone or mouse set up.  The ergonomics of our work station is set up are important, we spend a lot of time there!  Make sure yours is set correctly.  If you are not sure how, ask for some advice.

4) Stress 

Are you always on the go?  Are you too busy to stop, eating at your desk?  Many of us work in high pressure environments where we are constantly meeting deadlines, dealing with problems and so on.  If you imagine in your head for a moment a stressed person, imagine what they look like, how they are sitting, the look on their face.  Now imagine a happy relaxed person.  Which of the two’s body is the most unhappy?  Which is sat with their shoulder hunched up round their ears, looking and feeling anxious?  

Our body goes into the fight or flight mode, except we are not exercising.  This affects how we hold ourselves but also the stress hormones going round our body.  Stress is well documented to be an important cause and contributing factor to bad health and it is important that we find ways to tackle or deal with this if we are to be as healthy as we can.

5) Text thumb, phone neck etc…

A new breed of conditions and complaints coming out of our technology-centred world! How much time do we now spend looking down, texting, on Facebook, Twitter etc. Playing computer games makes kids’ (and adults’) live more sedentary. By exercising less and maintaining a poor diet the modern British child runs the risk of a whole host of problems in later life.  Their musculoskeletal system and general health will suffer, bad habits are formed and are so much harder to fix later on.  

6) Poor lifting/carrying

Think about your job: what do you do physically.  There are lots of people out there in manual jobs whose back could be spared by just having a bit of extra knowledge in how to lift well.  Often I see people who think they are doing it right but they REALLY AREN’T!  It’s small but very important changes that we can make to how we do things.  

When you consider you might do those things hundreds of times a day it is easy to see why they are so so important to do right.  An investment in looking after you body will mean that you can keep doing what you are doing, keep working and keep earning money.

7) Nutrition

Poor nutrition simply means that our bodies can not function well.  You wouldn’t expect that your car would run well if you didn’t put the right stuff in and it is the same with us.  Poor nutrition can affect our bone health, meaning we get more wear and tear, poor function and ultimately we can’t do the things we used to be able to it could even manifest in physical discomfort.  Our body needs enough of the good stuff to heal and repair and to have enough energy.

8) Couch potato-ing  

This is similar to the point about activity above, if we don’t use it we will lose it.  Slouching, inactivity, excessive TV watching all leads to our body being unconditioned and achy.  Falling asleep on the sofa is one of the biggest sins, waking up in awkward positions feeling sore.  If you are tired, go to bed!

9) Not getting enough sleep  

Leading on from the last point, sleep is so so important.  It is when our body repairs and heals itself.  If we don’t get enough sleep we are more prone to getting ill. We also make poorer food choices, get more tired and stressed, leading to us becoming more run down. Our body likes routine and shift workers struggle in this area.

10) Shoes

It is essential to think about your feet.  High heels are not great for posture or back health and yet many people where heels almost every day.

I could write much more on each of these points. But as a starting point, you should consider this to be a quick checklist for you to consider.  It is interesting to note that these points often go hand in hand. If you are stressed, you are often sleeping badly, eating badly not getting enough exercise and so on.  When people come to see us and all these factors are in play, part of helping them get well is helping them to address these factors.

Getting well is always a joint effort, I always tell people I cannot do this on my own, I cannot do it for you.  You have to want to get well and put some time and commitment into doing it.  If you want it, I will do my best to help you.

Our bodies are amazing. They have an incredible ability to adapt and compensate. However, we can only adapt so far and then the problems start emerging.  Unfortunately for us, sometimes they adapt well enough and hide things well enough that we don’t know there is a problem or can ignore it.

Think about the damage done to a smoker’s lungs or to our arteries in heart disease. The damage is being done way before we can see or become aware of it.  This makes it easier for people to ignore, but if we want to live a healthy, quality life we need to think about the things we do every day and how we are living.

It is much like the old dental analogy: back in the day there were not so many sugary sweets, foods and so on, but now they are commonplace. For this reason we are advised to brush our teeth every day and have regular dental checks and hygienist appointments.  This is the same idea for your body’s general and musculoskeletal health – except that rather than just being the bit in your mouth, this encompasses your whole body!

Finally, our biggest sin is thinking we can’t change things and simply accepting the deterioration in our health. I am here to tell you that you CAN change things, you CAN become more healthy and it starts with being aware.  So have a look over the points above and think about how many of these you might need to tweak a little and how you might start to do that.

That’s all for now folks.  If you are looking for chiropractic in Eastbourne, have a look at our website for more advice and information. If you have any questions, please feel free to use the comments section below or join the conversation on the Lushington Chiropractic Facebook page.


Life with Chiropractic

Life with Chiropractic

I found these words below from a Youtube video I came across entitled “Chiropractic life care”. I think that it describes the meaning of being healthy so beautifully and highlights how amazing our bodies are. It so eloquently explains how the team at Lushington feel about the work we do at our chiropractic clinic in Eastbourne that I wanted to share it with you:


There is intelligence in the universe –

It’s In Everything And Balances All Perfectly

 We Are It’s End Result

   Its crowning achievement

This Intelligence

Made us, runs us and heals us

It Quickens Our Hearts

Heals our cuts and bruises

Changes Our Food

Into energy

It Regulates

Every function of our body

It Communicates

With every tissue and cell

Except When It Can’t

Because of interference

Nerve Interference

Means stress


May Locate and remove interference

A Gentle Nudge

Turns the power back on

We May Help To Reconnect Your Body

To the intelligence within it

We call this Chiropractic

Chiropractic is about so much more than just back pain. Many people think that by performing work on the spine only the back can benefit from chiropractic. Yet the reality is that chiropractic can help the whole body, from your head to your toes. Our bodies are amazing and, thanks to qualified chiropractors, it is possible to give the body a nudge to heal itself and ‘turn the power back on’.

I have seen many patients coming through our doors here at Lushington Chiropractic to tell the wonders of those gentle adjustments on their bodies. Every day our chiropractors are helping to change lives and sharing their knowledge to help patients achieve a better and healthier way of life.

I am truly fascinated as to how the art of adjustments helps to heal our bodies and want to share the wonders of chiropractic with everyone.

I myself have chiropractic for my neck and back, which gets quite tense at times. These adjustments help to relieve the tension in my muscles and reduce the number of headaches I get – something that was a problem before I started treatment. I now take more interest in my body to understand how it works, what powers it and how the decisions I make can help to heal and maintain it.

We all have the ability to lead healthier, more balanced lives, which involves listening to our bodies and trusting our long-term wellbeing to highly skilled and qualified healthcare professionals. The chiropractic team at our clinic in Eastbourne are committed to taking a holistic approach to healthcare. This means that they not only pay attention to the symptoms that you present with; they also take the time to learn more about your broader health in order to get to the root of any problems and treat underlying issues. By paying attention to everything from nutrition to sleep to the working environment of patients, it is possible to achieve clear and noticeable improvements in health.

From the very first day that patients attend their first appointment to the day they are given a clean bill of health, the Lushington team are dedicated to being supportive, helpful and caring. It is this philosophy that has made us the award-winning clinic we are today.

Suffering with back pain, neck pain, muscle spasms or joint aches then call today to see why over 8,000 local people have already chosen Lushington to help them: 01323 722499.