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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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Spinal Awareness – The key to a Healthy Spine

A healthy spine is an amazing thing

Your spine holds everything together in the body! So it goes without saying that taking care of it should be one of your main health priorities. In this article, the team at Lushington Chiropractic is provide some top tips on how to keep your spine in tip-top shape.

The good news is that in many of cases, the wellbeing of your spine and health is in your own hands; it’s simply a case of changing lifestyle habits and committing to regular stretching and strengthening exercises.

The key to a healthy spine and, therefore, a healthy you, is the ‘P’ word: Posture.

Posture has been an overlooked factor in our health in the past. But research is now helping to raise awareness of the issues surrounding poor posture and explain why it is so important to make changes.

Younger people are now at an increased risk of having problems through the top of their neck and back because of the effects on posture of the modern lifestyle. Spending many hours each day sat at a computer, staring at a mobile device or in front of a TV screen gradually causes a change to the curvature of the back. This can not only cause serious pain but also lead to more long term health problems.

Pressure on the joints and discs in your neck when you text or read your tablet

Pressure on the joints and discs in your neck when you text or read on your tablet.

Pressure on the joints and discs in your neck when you text or read on your tablet.

 If you’re reading this blog post on your tablet or another mobile device, why not take a second to consider the position of your own neck right now. Hold your tablet up to eye level and you can help to reduce the pressure on the joints and discs in your neck.

Modern life is also behind the increasing use of very heavy bags. As our lives have become busier, so we tend to carry more and more things around with us on a day-to-day basis – this applies to schoolchildren as well.

The spinal health experts at Lushington Chiropractic in Eastbourne have some great tips on how to prevent injury and chronic problems as a result of lugging around heavy bags:

  • Use a bag with lightweight material and multiple compartments to distribute the weight
  • Pack only what you really need
  • Use both shoulder straps when carrying a rucksack
  • Alternate shoulders regularly to avoid strain
  • Ensure the rucksack sits above the waist to reduce pressure on the spine and nervous system;
  • If you can’t pack light, then use two bags.

Great posture begins with the spine – and chiropractic is a safe and effective way to achieve a healthy spine.

At Lushington Chiropractic we know all about posture and healthy spines, 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. Call today on0 1323 722499 to see why over 8,000 local people have already chosen us to help them.