Upper Cross Syndrome
Upper Cross Syndrome - DefinitionThe so-called Upper Cross Syndrome is a comprehensive set of symptoms that can be traced back to poor posture of the neck and upper back. The protrusion of the head and shoulders is typical of Lower Cross Syndrome, with the upper back in the thoracic spine being in a more curved position. The widespread bad posture is mostly due to our modern lifestyle, which is characterized by a lack of exercise, working at the screen and staring at smartphone displays. The Upper Cross Syndrome usually shows up visually with a characteristic posture as well as with frequent neck tension and headaches. In the long term, a severe Upper Cross Syndrome as a result of the stress on the cervical spine can promote the occurrence of a herniated disc in the cervical spine.
Upper Cross Syndrome - CausesThe cause of Upper Cross Syndrome is poor posture, which over time leads to a muscular imbalance. In the modern world of work, we have to sit down often and for long periods of time. But that is exactly what our body is not designed for. In particular, maintaining a healthy, ergonomic sitting position is hardly possible over a long period of time because the muscles tire. As a result, as the working day increases, we sink in: we let our shoulders hang, the head moves towards the screen and the upper back curves. When we arrive at home, we continue in the same way or on the way home we constantly stare at the smartphone with our necks bent. You can imagine that this is exactly the poison for the neck and back. After all, just pushing the head forward puts a multiple of its weight on the cervical spine. [NOTE] Perhaps it would be good if you included a graphic that shows the degree of head bending and the weight on the cervical spine. So starting from the zero position about 5 kg of the head up to the extreme bending when looking at the smartphone about 28 kg. As a result, the neck muscles have to work a lot more and become tense. In addition, there is the formation of a typical muscular imbalance with a strong upper trapezius muscle and a mostly tense chest and, in return, an under-developed lower trapezoidal muscle and an under-developed neck muscle. Due to the tension and the adjustment of the ligaments and fasciae to this incorrect load, this position "hardens" all by itself. A wide variety of symptoms and complaints are preprogrammed in this way.
Upper Cross Syndrome - SymptomsOverall, Upper Cross Syndrome can cause a number of different symptoms. These depend on the severity of the muscular imbalance and its effects on the poor posture. The main symptom of Upper Cross Syndrome is neck and back pain. Back pain occurs particularly in the upper thoracic spine and is often seen between the shoulder blades. Typically, the tension pain is quite dull. Painful muscle tension usually already occurs when the typical bad posture is visually not too pronounced. Characteristic of the Upper Cross Syndrome is a head that is sometimes clearly pushed forward with shoulders also pushed forward. The upper back, on the other hand, is slightly rounded towards the front. If the curve is over 40 degrees, doctors speak of a rounded back worth treating (hyperkyphosis). Especially with a strongly rounded back, the narrowing of the chest and the possible displacement of the organs can also impair the function of the internal organs. Digestive problems, cardiovascular problems and breathing problems are possible. The latter are particularly noticeable when inhaling deeply.
Other possible symptomsIn particular, as a result of the irritation of nerves in the area of the cervical and thoracic spine, radiating pain, neurological symptoms and various other complaints can occur or at least be partly caused. These include the following symptoms: Pain radiating to the shoulder, arms and fingers Parasitic sensations such as tingling and tingling in the fingers Temporary numbness in the neck and fingers Frequent "falling asleep" of an arm Concentration problems Migraines (increased risk in some species - see Migraines) Dizziness ringing in the ears
Upper Cross Syndrome TreatmentSince the Upper Cross Syndrome is usually an exclusively functional malposition, it can be corrected very well. And now you come into play! With Upper Cross Syndrome, thanks to numerous preventive measures as well as excellent stretching and strengthening exercises, it is in your own hands how quickly you can get rid of the bad posture and the associated complaints or not even get them.
With these exercises you can correct your bad postureThe following exercises will help you on the one hand to loosen up your already tense muscles and on the other hand to strengthen their weaker counterparts.
Exercise 1 - Wall SlidesWall slides strengthen the lower and middle parts of the trapezius. They also ensure better mobility of the shoulders. Lean your back flat against a wall. Now place your feet about 15-20 centimeters away from the wall. Then spread your arms out to the side like wings and place them on the wall. The entire arm is in contact with the wall from the shoulder to the back of the hand. From this position you first bring your arms up as far as you can. Then, in return, pull your arms down as far as you can. Make sure that the back of the hand and elbows remain against the wall during the entire movement. Do a total of three sets of 15-20 repetitions.
Exercise 2 - Loosen the neckSince the upper part of the trapezius (colloquially the neck) is usually very tense, it must be loosened. This is very easy, for example, with a fascia ball. Tip: Alternatively, the whole thing also works with a tennis ball, although a fascia ball is more suitable. Take the fascia ball and stand in a door frame. Bend forward so that your upper body is about a 60-70 degree angle. Now place the fascia ball between the door frame and your neck. Start with either the left or right side. Use your muscles to pinch the ball between your neck and the door frame and apply light pressure. Meanwhile, roll the ball back and forth by moving your upper body. Depending on the degree of tension, you can also vary the pressure. Loosen your neck like this for 1-2 minutes, then switch sides.
Exercise 3 - stretching the chestJust like the neck, the chest is often tense. With the following exercise you can loosen the muscles in a targeted manner. The fascia ball is also used here. Stand face-on in a door frame so that you stand close to the door frame. Now place the fascia ball between your chest muscles and the door frame. Place it so that it rests in the transition area between the shoulder and chest muscles. (This is where the most stubborn tensions are located.) Now exert a little pressure and roll the fascia ball back and forth for 1-2 minutes. You can loosen particularly stubborn tension by moving your arm back and forth. Then switch sides.
Exercise 4 - strengthening the neck flexorsWith the last exercise you strengthen your weakly developed neck flexors. Strengthening them and loosening the neck is the most effective way to combat the muscular imbalance. Stand upright with your back against a wall. The back of the head, shoulder blades, bottom and feet are on the wall. Tilt your chin and try to straighten your neck at the same time. Then press your tongue firmly against the roof of your mouth. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds. 60 seconds are ideal. Repeat the exercise three to four times.
More tips against Upper Cross SyndromeTry to walk and stand upright as often as possible in everyday life. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or visit your colleagues instead of calling them. And if you have to make a phone call, do it while standing or walking around. This is not only good for your back, but also gives your voice strength. Set up your workplace ergonomically. Make sure the table, chair, and screen are at the correct height. An ergonomic office chair with lumbar and neck support is ideal. What applies at work also applies at home, of course. Pay careful attention to your posture. The motto here is: "Belly in, chest out!" Don't constantly stare down at your smartphone in everyday life. Walk around the world at least in public with your head held high. It's safer and healthier. In addition, an upright posture makes you look more attractive. Exercise regularly. No matter whether swimming, cycling, rowing, jogging or endurance training with low weights. The main thing is that you move your body regularly and give your tense muscles an oxygen cure. Special orthotics can help you maintain a straight posture. You can carry these special orthoses like a backpack and lash them down accordingly. While wearing, pull your shoulders back and keep your upper back in a straight position. Caution: Orthoses that you can get in specialist sports shops and medical supply stores are not a substitute for the exercises and preventive measures presented.