Upper Cross Syndrome

March 27, 2017

By Stephen Dahms Registered Massage Therapist

Upper cross syndrome is a combination of multiple muscular imbalances that causes pain or discomfort and reduced mobility around your upper back, neck and shoulders.

Pectoral muscles, upper fibre trapezius and levator scapula are short, tight and contracted, causing fascial and muscular restrictions. This is where that feeling of limited movement and pain comes from. Posterior neck muscles, like suboccipitals and splenii, are also tight, which can led to tension headaches, often felt at the base of the skull, along with reduced neck mobility.

Weak serratus anterior, lower fibre traps and rhomboids can cause instability in the shoulder, which can result in winging and separation of your scapula. This can also put strain on the rhomboids, which are trying to keep them together. This often can lead to that feeling of pain along the middle of your shoulder blade. Your deep neck flexors are used to show off your super attractive double chin, are also weak and lengthened. These neck flexors help stabilize the skull on the spine and help support your head.

How to fix it?! Reverse the effect!

Talk to your massage therapist. Releasing the fascial and muscular restrictions in your chest, upper back and neck will help to free up your shoulders, while strengthening your middle/low back and serratus anterior will help create scapular stability and get those shoulder back into a better position.

It’s all about self awareness 

Keep tabs on your posture throughout the day. Hold yourself accountable and make sure you aren’t slouching, learning your head forward or elevating your shoulders. Keep your posture straight but relaxed. Try and set up your workspace to give yourself reminders. Put a piece of tape or sticky note behind your computer screen. If you being to slouch and lose sight of that tape, it’s time to reset that posture!

For some great tips or advice to help correct your posture, reduce fascial and muscle restrictions in your neck and shoulders as well as increasing strength in your middle and low back, follow me on Instagram @StephenDTheRMT

Stephen is a Registered Massage Therapist who graduated from the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy and completed a Bachelor of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta. Stephen’s love of sport and his interest in learning about human anatomy led him to a career in massage therapy and his interest in working with athletes. He also enjoys working with people who have postural concerns, and chronic or actue musculoskeletal issues. He is very excited to join the IHI team and is looking forward to working with you!

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