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Understanding Postural Imbalances

Upper Crossed Syndrome: What Is It?

Do you or someone you know experience headaches, rounded shoulders, numbness, tingling, or pain in the upper arms? While it may go away on its own, a likely culprit is a postural concerned called upper crossed syndrome. The muscles in the body hardly work in isolation, so when one muscle becomes weak another muscle has to pick up the slack and compensate by working a little harder causing an imbalance of muscle groups. With upper cross syndrome muscles in the midback start to become weak usually due to sedentary habits. This causes the chest and neck muscles to become very tight and over time can result in pain in areas like the shoulders and neck throughout the upper body and can lead to limits in range of motion if not addressed.

You may have seen this postural imbalance in the elderly, but with today’s lifestyle and work habits its quite a common pattern seen in the general population, young and old alike. Long hours sitting in front of a computer or television set without adjusting our bodies periodically can lead to poor posture by weakening the back muscles and creating the corresponding tightness and shortening of chest and neck muscles.

However, upper cross syndrome can be

seen in athletes like swimmers, such as Michael Phelps, and weightlifters who might routinely overuse neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles.

If left untreated, upper cross syndrome can lead to movement limitations, difficulty breathing, and undue pressure onto the spine.

It is important then to address the unequal build of front and back muscle groups with proper stretching, strengthening exercises and improve postural awareness.

Two exercise we would recommend are the chest stretch followed by a back row.

Standing Chest Wall Stretch:

  • Place your bent arm slightly above horizontal with your palm facing the wall.

  • Slowly turn your torse away from the wall while keeping your hand and arm firmly planted against the wall while you begin to feel a gently stretch as tolerated – this should not feel painful!

  • Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the opposite arm.

Back Rows:

  • Securely anchor a resistance band onto a door knob.

  • Stand tall holding the band with your elbows bent at your side.

  • While slowly pull your elbow straight back and behind you, imagine squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades.

  • Slowly return to the start position.

  • Perform the exercise 10-15 times or as tolerated.

Notice this pattern in your everyday life? Please give Reneu Health Inc. a call!

We are a team of experienced clinical kinesiologists who specialize in preventive and rehabilitative exercise for seniors. We believe that aging is part of a beautiful journey and everyone deserves to live their best ​life. We understand that as our bodies get older, it doesn’t function the same. As some see this as a limitation, we see it as an opportunity. With the right mindset, knowledge, tools and support we help improve quality of life, slow the progression of certain conditions and help you take control of your health.

Call us today for a free consultation. San Diego 619.263.0329 or Orange County 949.245.6239.

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