Dealing with upper crossed syndrome

This syndrome refers to a certain configuration where there is overlapping of overactive and underactive muscle groups in the neck, chest, and shoulders. In other words, these muscles become deformed. The back muscles of the neck and shoulders (upper trapezius, and levator scapula) become overactive and strained.

At the same time, there is shortening and tightening of the muscles in the front of the chest, namely the major and minor pectoralis muscles. It may occur due to poor posture, for instance the forward head posture or hunched over posture that happens when people are bending to use electronic devices, read, and drive.

It is caused when one continuously sits or stands with his or her head forward for prolonged periods. In addition to the mentioned activities, watching TV, texting, app, or game use, reading and biking can also cause the problem. The condition may also be caused by or contributed by injury or congenital disabilities.

Some of the symptoms of this condition include neck and back stiffness or aches. Although this condition is not usually serious, treatment is advisable for chronic issues of pain and muscle damage.

This condition or syndrome can be solved using a number of stretching and strengthening exercises. These exercises target at increasing the strength of the weakened muscles of the syndrome.

The surrounding counter muscles are at the same time underused and weakened due to these overactive muscles. Thus, the upper crossed syndrome will cause weak muscles in front of the neck (cervical flexor muscles) and in the lower shoulders (rhomboid and lower trapezius muscles).

When the regions of overactive and underactive muscles overlap, “x” shape develops and this is where the condition derives its name from.
Solving the problem can be done with the following:

1. Lying exercises: Lie down while placing a thick pillow a third of the way up your back aligned to your spine. Let the shoulders and arms roll out and have the legs release and fall open naturally.
Ensure that the head is neutral and it is not strained or stretched. Use a pillow if it does.

Stay in this position for 10-15 minutes and repeat several times throughout the day.

2. Sitting exercises: Sit with a straight back, bending your knees with feet flat on the floor. Press the arms into the ground behind the hips. Rotate the shoulders down and back. This should leave you feeling the tight muscles of the side neck, shoulders, and chest lengthens.

Push the palms into the floor without moving them. This will add more stretch in the chest.
Stay in this position for 3 to 5 minutes to deal with upper crossed syndrome.

3. Standing exercise: Standing with 3 to 4 feet apart, keep torso where it is and turn your right foot out 90 degrees and pivot the left foot inwards to about a 30-degree angle.

Place the arms at shoulder height in line with legs, with palms down.

Turn the head to look at your right fingers and bend the right knee as far as possible not more than 90 degrees, all while keeping the left leg and your torso straight.

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