This blog is looking into the effects of a condition called Upper Cross Syndrome which is commonly seen as the hunch in the upper back and neck region, which most people experience from sitting at a desk all day or the posture you’re in now as you’re reading this post!
Upper cross syndrome is caused from poor postural habits usually related to people sitting at a desk where their upper back (thoracic) flexes forward and their neck (cervical) extends backwards to counter the two movements. Where the two movements from the thoracic and cervical regions meet, this area often gets impacted more severely. Between each spinal vertebra there is a cushion-like structure called a disc which is used for shock absorption through the spine and is the location of nerve roots. The pressure between the two vertebrae puts too much pressure on the disc and can cause pain from nerve entrapment, headaches, tingling down the arms and severe muscle tightness.
In more minor cases where its simply leaning over the keyboard and not necessarily tilting the neck backwards, the person usually won’t have the disc problems as noted above but will experience muscle tightness causing muscle pain, headaches and general backache. This will result in muscle imbalances as seen in the photo below:
This illustrates that from a forward head posture the anterior neck muscles muscles and pec region will become shortened and tight, combined with muscle weakness through your rhomboids, deep neck flexors and posterior neck muscles.
How your Richmond Rehab practitioner can help:
The practitioners here will assess both your neck range of motion and individual vertebra movement, orthopedic testings to determine severity of the condition, treat the tightened muscle tissue to increase the range of movement and reduce the pain, followed by a tailored program of strengthening exercises and stretches.
Home care examples
Lying face-up on the floor with your arms by your side, pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth to activate your deep neck flexors and tilting your head downwards to try look at your collarbones while keeping your head on the floor then return to starting position. This is one repetition, repeat 12 times and holding for 3-5 seconds when looking downwards each time.
Standing against the wall with the back of your head, shoulders and lower back touching the wall with your feet 20cm’s from the wall. Squeezing the shoulder blades together against the wall so they’re nearly touching and your chest will push forward, then release.
This is one repetition, repeat 12 times and holding the squeeze for 5 seconds each time
Scalene/ anterior neck stretch
To stretch the left aspect of the anterior neck place your right hand firm up underneath your collarbone with a downward pressure while looking over your right shoulder to get a strong stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Do the opposite for the right aspect and hold for 30 seconds.