Upper Crossed Syndrome

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!



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