Today I want to talk about one of the biggest postural issues that I see called upper cross syndrome. Upper cross syndrome is when your shoulders tend to round forward and your head shifts forward.
This is the most common postural deviation that we see. Why is that?
- Many people have had accidents and injuries that caused damage to the neck, like a car accident or a sports injury.
- Many others use devices like cell phones, iPads, and computers daily.
- We sit now more than ever.
And what happens is the muscles down here, your pec muscles, get really tight and the supporting muscles of your neck get really weak. As a result, the upper back area where most people experience a lot of stress and tension also gets very tight. And the mid back, which supports a healthy posture gets weak too.
How To Overcome the Health Effects of Upper Cross Syndrome
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How to Correct Upper Cross Syndrome
And so what happens is you get more and more and more like this
causing more stress, tension and pain and leading to neck pain, upper back pain, shoulder, arm, pain, headaches for many people and drastically affecting your health. The most important thing you can do to correct upper cross syndrome is actually corrective chiropractic care.
Through our corrective chiropractic care, we’re actually addressing the postural concerns, realigning the spine itself, restoring normal nerve supply to the muscles that move and support your spine, as well as going through a process of neuromuscular reeducation and retraining the neural posture. And you can’t fully correct this without proper chiropractic care, but there’s also some stretches that you can do at home to support your care here in the office, to help get a better resolution faster.
5 Home Exercises to Help Correct Upper Cross Syndrome
I want to walk you through five specific exercises that are easy, that you can do at home, to really help support the correction of this upper cross syndrome.
The first exercise we’re going to do is a stretch. We want to stretch those tight pectoralis muscles. So we’re going to do a doorway stretch. You want to do this 10 to 15 seconds, three to four times on each side. So I’m gonna show you exactly what this stretch looks like. You can go to any doorway here. You’re gonna put your arm at a 90 degree and you’re gonna push forward.
As you do this, you’ll feel a stretch through this area. You can also do a stretch out arm like this and stretch this way.
Anywhere you feel a stretch right through here is going to help stretch those tightened muscles. And you want to do it on both sides for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat three to four times.
Sitting Banded Pull
The next is an exercise. Now this is to strengthen the weakened muscles of your mid back. You want to do this sitting or on a bench. And this is just a simple elastic band, which you can use.
You put your leg straight out, you put this on your feet. You’re going to sit up straight and you’re going to pull straight back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. And you release and you come straight back. Each time you want to hold about two seconds in the back and you should feel like your shoulder blades are squeezing together.
You may notice some cramping in this, especially if they’re really weak. It may start fatigue or become sore because those muscles, again, they’re weak and they’re not working properly. You want to do this 15 to 30 repetitions and repeat two to three times throughout the day. So just one, two release… One two release.
Seated Chest Stretch
The next protocol we’re going to do is another stretch. This is a different way to stretch these tight pec muscles again, and you can do this seated any time throughout the day. Simply all you are going to do with your feet flat on the ground, you’re going to lock your hands behind you and you’re going to stretch back.
So you can see this is opening up my chest. You’re stretching through this area and you’re going to hold this 15 to 30 seconds and do two to three repetitions of this to really further help open up this chest area. So again, you interlock your fingers. You pull straight back and bring your chest up and chin back, and you’re going to hold this.
Seated Neck Strengthening Exercise
Next one is another exercise. This is to exercise these neck muscles that have become weak over time. Again, you’re going to use the elastic band. What you do here is again, you’re going to sit up straight. You’re going to actually put this behind your head, holding your head in neutral position, your arms at 90 degrees. And you’re going to extend your arms, holding the head in a neutral position. And back one, two second hold and back one, two second hold and back. You’re going to do 15 to 30 repetitions of this. Two to three times a day.
Child’s Pose Stretch
The last exercise in the upper cross syndrome protocol is going to be another stretch. Now this can be done with an exercise ball like this. You can do it with the chair. You can even do it on the floor. This is a form of the child’s pose and what this is doing, it’s actually loosening the upper muscles of the back that are really tight and further increasing mobility of the chest and upper back.
So simply what you want to do is lean back and stretch out your arms and bring your body down. And you’ll feel this stretch through here and through here. And you want to hold this 15 to 30 seconds and do it two to three times. It may be a little tight at first, but as you start doing it more and more, you’ll find that your mobility and your flexibility actually increase so that way you’re getting more out of the exercise.
So if you do these five protocols, which shouldn’t take you more than five to 10 minutes throughout the day. You can break it up. You can do it at your workstation. You can do it at home. It’s really going to help and it’s best done if you do it every day. Not forever. For a few weeks, for a couple of months in conjunction with your corrective chiropractic care and regular exercise and movement.
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