TIGHT: Constant stress and pressure on the neck and shoulders from habitually looking down at a phone, slouching in a chair, hunched driving, computer use, and watching TV leads to overactive and strained neck muscles, and over tightening of the chest muscles.
WEAK: As a result of the overactive neck and chest, the surrounding muscles in the front of the neck and the lower shoulders that counter them are underused and become weak.
Having good posture is a habit that has been encouraged for centuries, from displaying military prowess in the 1600s, to emphasizing social dignity in the 1800s. Nowadays the importance of posture is stressed by physical therapists and chiropractic because of its importance to our health. Common benefits of good posture are the prevention of back and neck pain, better mobility of your joints, and even a stronger core and strengthened back (which can prevent injury in day to day activities).
Today, we live in a modern age of smartphones, smart cars, and the ability to make money from the comfort of your laptop. But as many of us spend hours looking down at our phone, sitting hunched in office chairs, or slumped on the couch watching Netflix, we have also formed bad habits of slouching and poor posture that over time causes our muscles to become imbalanced. It is a condition that has sprung up in our generation, and it is called Upper Cross Syndrome.
So what exactly is Upper Cross Syndrome, and what is causing it? In short, Upper Cross Syndrome is deformation and improper development of the muscles in the shoulders, neck, and chest. So what is different?
Over time, this muscle imbalance molds your body into the slouched posture shown above. The head pushes forward, the shoulders become rounded, and the strain causes many symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, chest tightness, jaw pain, fatigue, soreness during long drives, and restricted range of motion in athletics and exercise.
But all is not lost if you find yourself experiencing Upper Cross Syndrome. You can balance your life with these exercises and lifestyle tips, counteract the development of Upper Cross Syndrome, and experience pain relief.
*Engaging in the following types of exercises that engage the muscles that are underused, and promote straight posture.
Similar to Upper Cross Syndrome, Lower Cross Syndrome is a condition in which there is an imbalance of tight and weak muscles. The difference is lower cross syndrome affects the lower part of your body, where abs and glutes (your butt) are weak and the hip flexors and mid back are tight. It is possible to experience both UPPER and LOWER cross syndromes at the same time, but being intentional about your posture habits can help prevent both! So what lifestyle habits cause LCS?
As LCS develops, it only gets worse over time. Because the glutes and abs are weak, your hamstrings and lower back overcompensate and become tighter as you engage in daily activities such as walking, running, and squatting. The tighter these muscles get, the weaker your abs and glutes become! This eventually can cause low back pain, a bulging belly, and increased risk of knee pain, lower back pain, and other musculoskeletal disorders. To prevent and combat LCS, here are some excercises and stretches you can do at home:
Feel free to ask your ASC Doctor for more tips and exercises to promote healthy posture and prevent UCS/LCS.