Postural Fix: Upper Cross Syndrome

upper-cross-syndrome

Neutral Spine optimal joint alignment.

Upper Cross syndrome is a modern day epidemic. The postural imbalance consists of tight/short neck extensors (muscle of the back of the neck), pectorals (chest muscles) and arm internal rotators. Conversely neck flexors (muscles of the front of neck) are weak and elongated, as well as the rhomboids (muscles between the shoulder blades). The head protrudes forwards (flexed), the shoulders are rounded (scapular protraction) and the upper back is rounded (thoracic kyphosis). This forward head posture increases the amount of load applied to your cervical vertebral, placing unnecessary stresses on the spine that can potentially develop into a source of pain/migraine.

Prolonged use on computers, mobile phones, reading as well as an emotionally anxious/stressful disposition, can lead to this postural dysfunction. Imbalanced posture and restricted functional flexibility increase chances of injury: muscle strains, ligament sprains and nerve impingements. Joint stability is also compromised, inhibiting our strength expression. Elongated muscle cannot produce as much active muscle force and unbalanced joints downgrade neuromuscular contractions to protect themselves from injury. A joint becomes forced to move in a certain direction due to hypertonicity that can lead to chronic musculoskeletal pain (abnormal movement patterns increasing joint abrasive sheer forces). Blood, lymph and nerve flow become restricted. Even lung capacity and oxygen uptake can be reduced. Optimal posture aka a neutral spine with head tall and shoulders back will reverse these restrictions.

upper-cross-syndromePeople that are unaware of improper posture can make their condition worse when engaging in regular weights training without the guidance of a professional. Most novices focus on their ‘Mirror muscles’ that is targeting everything that they can see in the mirror (chest, biceps and abdominals) whilst completely neglecting the muscles they can’t see, the opposing muscle groups. This approach would further increase upper cross syndrome severity.

To fix this postural mis-alignment specific stretching protocols and tightening exercises can be adopted to bring tensile balance between antagonistic muscle groups. All my clientele receive regular postural/flexibility assessments and are prescribed appropriate corrective stretch routines and tightening exercises to bring about and maintain optimal posture and all its protective/performance enhancing benefits.

 

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