How to Fix Your Posture: Upper Cross Syndrome

Are you glued to your desk all day? Are you also guilty of spending long periods of time with your electronic gadgets? And you might haven’t noticed it that it turns out you are sitting in the wrong way and developed a bad posture habit. You ended up sitting while your head is jutted forward.

Bad Posture

Posture is something that we can improve. But, we can’t deny that sometimes we fail to work on it. In the long run, this leads to having trouble with the effects of having poor posture. A poor posture is not a simple problem, it can affect our daily activities. And, among the results of poor posture condition that we will discuss here is the Upper Cross Syndrome.

Let’s discover the key information about upper cross syndrome and the ways on how to fix it.

What is Upper Cross Syndrome?

Janda's Upper Crossed Syndrome. (Permission of Human Kinetics)Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS) is among the postural problems. It occurs due to the imbalances within the neck, upper back, chest, and shoulder muscles. On the dorsal side, the tightness of the upper trapezius and levator scapula crosses with the tightness of the pectoralis major and minor.

It greatly affects the upper trapezius and levator scapula. These muscles become more strained and overactive. On the other hand, when these muscles became overactive, the surrounding muscles became weak. And, it ends up having an overlap between overactive and underactive muscles which develops an X pattern.

This type of postural problem commonly arises as a result of having poor posture, improper repetitive movements, trauma, and tensions.


How to Know if You have Upper Cross Syndrome?

Certain postural changes are among the key signs of having an Upper Cross Syndrome. Among these signs are:

  • Having a forward head posture – with bent forward neck
  • With stooped and rounded shoulders or protracted shoulders
  • Rotation or Abduction of Scapulae
  • Hunching of the Thoracic Spine
  • Kyphosis

Besides having postural changes, the deformed muscles also give strain on its surrounding joints, bones, muscles, and tendons. Thus, you can experience the following:

  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Upper back and shoulder pain
  • Chest pain
  • Weakness in front of the neck while the strain on its back
  • Fatigue
  • Low back pain
  • Jaw pain

UCS  can also affect your daily lives and you may experience the following:

  • Having a tough time for a long drive
  • Problem with sitting when watching TV or reading
  • Limited neck and shoulders movement
  • Reduced movement in the ribs
  • Upper arm having numbness, pain or tingling sensation

What causes Upper Cross Syndrome?

Various types of movements can cause Upper Cross Syndrome but it’s mainly an effect of having a bad posture. And, among the activities that can trigger UCS are the following:

  • Long sitting period while working on PC or laptop
  • Use of electronic devices e.g. mobile phones
  • Watching TV
  • Driving
  • Biking
  • Reading

Besides from these certain movements, UCS can also occur due to injury and congenital disabilities.

How to Fix It?

If you are among those who have UCS, you might also be looking for some solution and luckily, it can be improved. You can improve your posture while you’re at home.

Working with some exercises can help in addressing the Upper Cross Syndrome. Even research showed that corrective exercises can help people with Upper Cross Syndrome.

Corrective Exercises and Stretches 

There are various types of exercises that can help in improving your condition and attain the right posture. Among the recommended exercises are featured below.

Chin Tuck

One of the effective postural exercises. It helps in strengthening the muscles that pull the head back to its normal alignment over your shoulders. It also aids in stretching the scalene and suboccipital muscles. It can help in reducing neck pain, neck muscle spasm, and improving posture.

This exercise can be done either by sitting or standing. Let’s have the one when you’re seated.

  1. Sit up straight and have your neck in a relaxed position.
  2. Look forward and pull your chin backward as if you are making a ‘double chin’. You have to make sure that your head must not tilt downwards.
  3. Then, hold that position for about 8 seconds. You may repeat it 5 times which is equivalent to one set.
  4. You can repeat this exercise for about 3 to 4 sets within the day.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

By doing this exercise, it can help in opening your chest muscle and also in improving your posture. So, how to do it? By the way, you may also do it while sitting or standing.

  1. Sit up straight while your arms relaxed on your side.
  2. Then, pull your shoulder blades back and slightly downward which makes your elbows back and inward or do it by squeezing your shoulder blades while not raising them.
  3. Before releasing it, hold that position for about 8 seconds.
  4. Same as chin tuck, you may repeat it for 5 times ( equivalent to 1 set)
  5. You can do it for about 2-3 sets a day.

Also, some good stretches can improve this condition.

Trapezius Stretch

With this type of stretch, it can help in keeping the trapezius muscle from getting too tight. It can also relieve some tensions.  So, how to do it?

  1. Sit up straight.
  2. Slowly draw the right ear toward the right shoulder.
  3. Over your head, you may place your right hand and allow it to rest within your left cheekbone to add some pressure.
  4. Then hold for about 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat it on your left side.
  6. Perform it for about 3 to 4 times within the day.

Brugger’s Relief Position

A type of chess stretch that can help in combatting poor sitting posture. It helps in reducing tensions, promotes relaxed breathing. reduce your back and neck strain.

  1. To do it, start by sitting within the edge of your chair.
  2. Have your legs slightly wider than your shoulder-width apart
  3. Your palms must be facing upwards and it’s time to lift your chest up.
  4. Hold on that position for about 20 to 30 seconds.
  5. Same as trapezius stretch you may do it for about 3 to 4 times within the day.

Treatment Options

Aside from DYI corrective exercises and stretches, help from experts is also effective in addressing this condition. And, among the treatment options are chiropractic care and physical therapy.

Chiropractic care

The tight muscles and bad posture which leads to UCS cause the joints to be misaligned. The adjustment from a licensed chiropractor is essential for the realignment of these joints. By realigning the joints it can help in increasing the range of motion within the affected area. Also, it stretches and able to relax the shortened muscles.


Aside from Chiropractors, licensed physiotherapists can also help in treating UCS. They offer a combination of approaches. They create custom programs for their patients. Before starting a session, a patient must undergo an assessment – checking the condition and its causes. The custom program also includes advice related to the condition. A physiotherapist will also educate the patient on how to prevent ending up with UCS in the future.

Also, the program will include exercise that they will demonstrate to their patients which will be then continued at home. It will also include manual therapy which can help in relieving pain and stiffness.

The Key to Treating the Upper Cross Syndrome

To make your corrective exercises stretches, or work-out program effective, it’s important that you have watched out for your daily posture. Never forget to maintain good posture while standing or sitting.  In cases where you sit for long time periods, make sure that you give your self some break and do some upper back exercises or even some quick stretches.

Remember that making your posture back to normal does not only take overnight. It takes a long process to fix it. Therefore, take in mind that treating upper cross syndrome involves: corrective exercises or stretches, workout programs, and discipline. Your self-discipline is the main key to treating UCS successfully.

If you are still having a hard time with your poor posture, we’ve got your back. You may book for chiropractic care in Coquitlam to get some adjustments by clicking here.  Also, improve your posture with a combination of techniques from our licensed physiotherapists, you may also book online for there services here.

Ready to book a Physiotherapist appointment at Evergreen Rehab and Wellness Clinic? Call us at 604-449-5859 or 604-498-5859 or click the button below. We will help you to enjoy a painless and healthy lifestyle.