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Upper Crossed Syndrome

Upper Crossed Syndrome

Have a Shoulder Injury? Lets Have a Look At Your Neck First.


This blog post is a follow up from the previous blog post on Lower Crossed Syndrome. If, by the end of this blog, you realize that you are one of the many people suffering from the effects of Upper Crossed Syndrome, we highly recommend you read the previous blog post about Lower Crossed Syndrome in order to see if these factors are also present in your pelvic region. Poor posture and improper compensatory patterns are often contagious and can easily spread to other areas of the body.


Musculoskeletal disorders are almost always a matter of cause and effect. Muscle pain and joint pain very rarely begin for no reason whatsoever. There are other types of disorders that can result in the insidious or random onset of pain; however, these aren’t classified as musculoskeletal disorders. This is good news for those who may be experiencing musculoskeletal pain because understanding that there is a cause to your pain is the first step on the road to eliminating it. The second step to eliminating your pain is figuring out what is actually causing your pain. This is more difficult and can often be quite a challenging endeavor, especially if you don’t have a background in human anatomy and kinesiology. But that is why we are here to help. Our goal, at Wellness Links, is to provide you with the information and answers you need to empower you to lead a more pain free and ultimately, healthier, life.


With that in mind, lets talk about Upper Crossed Syndrome and how it can relate to neck pain, poor posture, and ultimately shoulder pain/injury. The principles of Lower Crossed Syndrome, discussed in the previous blog, are the same principles that are present in Upper Crossed Syndrome, only the muscle groups are different. In Upper Crossed Syndrome, the deep neck flexors and the lower trapezius muscles are weak (this creates one line of the X). The cervical extensors and pectoralis muscles are tight or shortened (this creates the second line in the X).




As you can see in the figure shown above, the muscle groups opposing the tight or shortened muscle groups are weak. This is the result of reflexive inhibition, which is described in the previous blog (we really recommend you read that one as well!) When the pectoralis and cervical extensors become overworked and shortened, it causes significant postural changes to occur. The shoulders are rounded forward and the scapulas (shoulder blades) are pulled up and away from your spine (where they are supposed to be).  Without getting too technical, this causes a significant shift in the angle and positioning of the shoulder joint. We would be happy to go over the kinesiology and biomechanics with you at some point and explain how it all happens, but for now we hope that you can just believe us when we say that all of these changes soon lead to impingement of in the shoulder and if untreated, can lead to a torn rotator cuff. So, if you have a shoulder injury from the repetitive use or overuse of your arm, and you think that the position of your head and neck didn’t have anything to do with it, we hope we now have your attention.


As stated at the start of this post, injuries such as Carpal Tunnel, Rotator Cuff Tears, Tendonitis, Neck Pain or Low Back pain from Herniated Discs -just to name a few examples of Musculoskeletal Disorders- all have a cause. There is a reason they happened and until that reason is first, clearly understood and second, appropriately addressed, there is little hope for you to make any significant improved in your condition. If your rotator cuff tear is surgically repaired, but the improper muscle length of your pectoralis and cervical extensors is not addressed, and the weakness in your deep neck flexors and lower traperzius muscles is not addressed, you will most likely demonstrate limited improvement in the recovery of your rotator cuff tear and you are at an increased risk for re-injuring it. If you have questions or concerns and would like to run some questions by a Physical Therapist, if you have a repetitive overuse type injury and are interested in understanding and addressing its true cause, or if you notice that your head is out in front of your shoulders and you want to prevent this forward head posture from contributing to an injury in the future, the staff at Wellness Links is here to help!



Live Longer

Live Longer

Want to live longer? Do these 2 things every day.


It is pretty safe to say that everyone, if given the option, would choose to live longer. The difficulty in accomplishing a goal like, “to live longer,” is that it can be daunting. It’s like someone handing you some wood, nails, and a hammer with only the instructions, “Build yourself a house.” Some people, with a lot of experience in construction, would get to work right away. For others though, it is very difficult to find a place to start.


Well, here is a good place to start. Listed below are two studies, each with easy things that can be done to effectively increase the length of your life.


The first study was published by the European Journal of Cardiology in 2012. The participants in this study all performed the Sit to Rise Test (SRT). They sat down on the floor and then stood back up, using their hands as little as possible throughout the process. There are 10 points possible in the scoring system of this test. Those who scored fewer than 8 points on the test were twice as likely to die within the next six years as compared to those who scored 8 points or higher. The participants who scored 3 points or fewer on the test were 5 times (FIVE TIMES!) more likely to die within the next six years as compared to those who scored higher than 8 points on the Sit to Rise Test (SRT). Overall, each point scored on the SRT correlated with a 21% decrease in mortality rates FROM ALL CAUSES.



Roen Kelly/Discover


Try It

  1. Stand in comfortable clothes in your bare feet, with clear space around you.
  2. Without leaning on anything, lower yourself to a sitting position on the floor.
  3. Now stand back up, trying not to use your hands, knees, forearms or sides of your legs.






The two basic movements in the sitting-rising test — lowering to the floor and standing back up — are each scored on a 1-to-5 scale, with one point subtracted each time a hand or knee is used for support and 0.5 points subtracted for loss of balance; this yields a single 10-point scale.

Roen Kelly/Discover


Slowly lowering yourself down to a sitting position and then rising in a controlled fashion requires a unique combination of muscle strength, balance, and flexibility. Studies have long shown that heart health, lung health, and nutritional health are all factors that contribute to the longevity of your life. However, this study shows that muscle strength and flexibility also play a vital role in life expectancy and that regardless of your nutritional or cardiac health, a high score on the SRT test is directly correlated with living longer.


The second study, published in 2011 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the length of a person’s life is directly correlated to their average walking speed. Those with an average lifespan also had average walking speeds (0.8 m/sec). Those who walked 1 m/sec or faster (2.25 mph) consistently lived longer than those in their age and sex who walked more slowly. Now, you may think that your walking speed varies depending on the situation or environment that you are in, but Stephanie Studenski, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Division of Geriatric Medicine and co-author of the new analysis, says otherwise. “People have a remarkably stable preferred walking speed,” Studenski notes. “Your body sort of self-selects your walking speed that best accommodates all of the systems that are needed to walk.” On the surface, walking seems like a relatively simple activity but in reality, it is a complex biological combination of your respiratory, circulatory, muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems.


There are many reasons why people who walk faster, or people who are able to rise up from the floor more easily, live longer. Think of the things required to maintain a faster walking speed as opposed to walking very slowly. Your heart and lungs need to be in better shape to supply more oxygen and blood to your muscles, since they are contracting and relaxing at a higher rate. Increasing the use of the muscles in your legs will lead to increased strength and an increased tolerance to physical activity. Walking quickly requires better balance as well as increased strength in your core. As your balance and strength in your legs increases, your risk of falls, and the physical and medical complications associated with falling, decreases. The list goes on and on. These studies also show that not exercising can be just as unhealthy as smoking, which is even more reason to begin to get out and begin some form of exercise, even if its as simple as walking or repetitively transferring from sitting to standing.


These two studies allow you to set tangible goals that are known, with a high degree of certainty, to be associated with living a longer, healthier life.


So, want to live longer?


  1. Walk Faster.


  1. Sit down on the floor, and then stand up, using your hands as little as possible.


Now, it may take some time for these two simple activities to bring about positive changes. But remember that a Rolls Royce takes 6 months to build, a Toyota takes 13 hours. Good things take time but if you put in the work, you will see the results!