What is Upper Cross Syndrome?  

A posture-related condition that is becoming more commonplace is upper cross syndrome.1 Upper cross syndrome is characterized by rounded shoulders, shoulder blade misalignment, and forward head posture. This is often caused by individuals who work at a desk or sit for the majority of the day. Typically, the irregularities this syndrome causes look very similar to slouching and can lead to other complications.

As noted by Jintae Han, PT, PhD (Kyungsung University), this syndrome results from certain muscle groups becoming imbalanced.2 This causes the counter muscle groups to become weak. Poor posture while doing activities such as driving, reading, biking, and using electronic devices, can contribute to it. Symptoms include stiffness in the neck, headaches, tension, and soreness in the slope of the shoulder and the upper back. Upper cross may also result in neurological issues, such as tingling, pins and needles, shooting pain, and numbness extending into the arms, hands, and fingers.

There are some ways to prevent upper cross syndrome. One is to limit time doing activities such as watching TV or reading. That way the neck muscles aren’t in that position as long. One could also take breaks every 10 to 15 minutes to unwind the muscles. Making sure that whatever you are engaging with is at eye level so that you aren’t straining your neck. Doing stretches to target problem areas can ease the pain.

Learn more:

Upper Cross Syndrome. [Internet] Available from: https://www.physiotherapy-treatment.com/Upper-Cross-Syndrome.html

  1. Rajalaxmi V, Paul J, Nithya M, Lekha SC, Likitha B. Effectiveness of three dimensional approach of Schroth method and yoga on pulmonary function test and posture in upper crossed syndrome with neck pain – a double blinded study. Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology. 2018;11(5):1835-9.
  2. Han J, Park S, Kim Y, Choi Y, Lyu H. Effects of forward head posture on forced vital capacity and respiratory muscles activity. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2016;28(1):128-31.
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