Upper Cross Syndrome

on Thursday, 14 February 2019. Posted in Massage, Newsletters, General Health, Ergonomics

Upper Cross Syndrome

Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS) refers to a particular configuration of muscles that are underactive and overactive in the back, neck, shoulders and chest. Muscles of the upper back and into the neck become overactive and strained and the muscles of the chest become shortened and tight. UCS gets its name from the “X” shape that develops as a result of the underactive and overactive muscles overlapping, along with the surrounding muscles that consequently become weak. 

 

 

How Does This Happen?

UCS is typically a result of inappropriate posture, specifically sitting or standing with the head forward for prolonged periods. Activities that may promote a head forward position include:

  • Computer and laptop use

  • Browsing, texting, apps and gaming on mobile devices

  • Reading

  • Watching TV

  • Driving

How Can This Affect You?

Tension headaches and migrainesthe head forward position increases the stress placed on the upper back and the muscles at the back of the neck, increasing your risk of headaches.

 

General neck, shoulder and upper back pain – can be experienced due to the impacted muscles of UCS. Trigger points or tender areas can develop due to the constant stress being placed on these muscles.

 

Impaired respiratory function – rounded shoulders and a forward head position typically cause tightness and shortening of muscles as seen in those with UCS. These overactive and underactive muscles as well as the position of the rib cage can result in impaired respiratory function.

 

You may also experience:

  • Jaw pain

  • Tiredness

  • Difficulty sitting, reading, watching TV or driving too long

  • Restricted range of motion in the neck or shoulders

  • Discomfort, pain, tingling or numbness in the upper arm

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Lower back pain

 

What Can I Do? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Prevention is better than a cure as they say and the best way to prevent UCS is to avoid activities that require a head forward position for extended periods of time, this may be:

  • Limiting time spent using computers and laptops or mobile devices

  • Take regular breaks while sitting or engaged in problematic activities

  • Being mindful of movements or activities that may worsen symptoms and avoid these when possible

  • Stretch and strengthen muscles of the back, neck, shoulders and chest

  • Maintain a good posture

Can Massage Help With My Symptoms? YES!

Massage can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with UCS. Massage Therapists use soft tissue and active release techniques in combination with stretching and helpful suggestions for strengthening exercises.

 

As a former office worker of almost 20 years, having spent more than 40 hours a week in front of a computer; I understand the impact that this type of work or activity has on our body. I appreciate that it is not always simple to limit time on the computer or mobile device; or taking regular breaks are not always easy or practical; or even maintaining a good posture throughout the day, “I got tired, I slouched in my chair” – I hear you. Any step towards a healthier you, is a step in the right direction.

 

 

Written by Maharlia Kennedy

Remedial Massage Therapist (Dip. Remedial Massage)

 

 

Refernce for Image: https://www.healthandexercise.com.au/exercise-physiology/exercise-physiologyposture-correction-exercises-upper-crossed-syndrome/

 

Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS) refers to a particular configuration of muscles that are underactive and overactive in the back, neck, shoulders and chest. Muscles of the upper back and into the neck become overactive and strained and the muscles of the chest become shortened and tight. UCS gets its name from the “X” shape that develops as a result of the underactive and overactive muscles overlapping, along with the surrounding muscles that consequently become weak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Does This Happen?

UCS is typically a result of inappropriate posture, specifically sitting or standing with the head forward for prolonged periods. Activities that may promote a head forward position include:

  • Computer and laptop use

  • Browsing, texting, apps and gaming on mobile devices

  • Reading

  • Watching TV

  • Driving

 

How Can This Affect You?

Tension headaches and migrainesthe head forward position increases the stress placed on the upper back and the muscles at the back of the neck, increasing your risk of headaches.

 

General neck, shoulder and upper back pain – can be experienced due to the impacted muscles of UCS. Trigger points or tender areas can develop due to the constant stress being placed on these muscles.

 

Impaired respiratory function – rounded shoulders and a forward head position typically cause tightness and shortening of muscles as seen in those with UCS. These overactive and underactive muscles as well as the position of the rib cage can result in impaired respiratory function.

 

You may also experience:

  • Jaw pain

  • Tiredness

  • Difficulty sitting, reading, watching TV or driving too long

  • Restricted range of motion in the neck or shoulders

  • Discomfort, pain, tingling or numbness in the upper arm

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Lower back pain

 

What Can I Do? Well, I’m glad you asked!

Prevention is better than a cure as they say and the best way to prevent UCS is to avoid activities that require a head forward position for extended periods of time, this may be:

  • Limiting time spent using computers and laptops or mobile devices

  • Take regular breaks while sitting or engaged in problematic activities

  • Being mindful of movements or activities that may worsen symptoms and avoid these when possible

  • Stretch and strengthen muscles of the back, neck, shoulders and chest

  • Maintain a good posture

 

Can Massage Help With My Symptoms? YES!

Massage can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with UCS. Massage Therapists use soft tissue and active release techniques in combination with stretching and helpful suggestions for strengthening exercises.

 

As a former office worker of almost 20 years, having spent more than 40 hours a week in front of a computer; I understand the impact that this type of work or activity has on our body. I appreciate that it is not always simple to limit time on the computer or mobile device; or taking regular breaks are not always easy or practical; or even maintaining a good posture throughout the day, “I got tired, I slouched in my chair” – I hear you. Any step towards a healthier you, is a step in the right direction.

 

 

Written by Maharlia Kennedy

Remedial Massage Therapist (Dip. Remedial Massage)

 

 

Image: https://www.healthandexercise.com.au/exercise-physiology/exercise-physiologyposture-correction-exercises-upper-crossed-syndrome/

 

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