J.Just when we thought there was no way to add to the time we spend sitting and staring at screens, COVID-19 struck. Now even our children are spending more hours a day in front of an electronic device as an alternative to personal educational settings. All this screen and sitting time, coupled with poor posture, can cause problems in our bodies, which in turn cause pain. Drs. George and Stefanie Olar, owners of 360 Chiropractic in Lacey, say Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS) is something everyone should be aware of as we spend more time sitting in front of screens.
“Upper-crossed syndrome, in most cases, is caused by poor posture while standing or sitting,” explains Dr. George, chiropractor in Lacey. Photo courtesy of 360 Chiropractic
“Upper-crossed syndrome, in most cases, is caused by poor posture while standing or sitting,” explains Dr. George. “People are working from home more than ever and may not have set up an ergonomically correct desk. You may not even be sitting at a desk, but at the kitchen table or on the couch. Children sit on their beds with laptops. All of these positions encourage poor posture with the shoulders hunched and the head forward. “
The rounded shoulders and the head pushed forward are external signs of internal problems. The back muscles in the neck and shoulders (upper trapezius and levator scapula) become overactive and tense, while the surrounding muscles, including the cervical flexors in the front of the neck and the rhomboid and lower trapezoid muscles in the shoulders, are under-used get and get weak. This causes the chest muscles (major and minor muscles) to shorten and tighten.
“Looking down for a long time leads to upper-crossed syndrome,” explains Dr. George. “For example, looking down to read, ride a bike or ride, but even more so on a laptop, tablet, computer screen or phone. Most of the people I see look at their cell phones, I even caught myself doing it! We need to remember to take breaks and think about the position our body is in. “
Symptoms of Upper Crossed Syndrome
The stress on your muscles from USC also affects your joints and bones. Photo courtesy of 360 Chiropractic
The stress on your muscles from USC also affects your joints and bones. Symptoms that patients commonly experience include:
- Neck, back and shoulder pain
- a headache
- Chest tightness and pain, including pectoral muscles
- Jaw pain
- Restricted movement in the neck and shoulders
- Pain, numbness, and tingling in the upper arms
- Pain in the ribs, including the front, back, and sides.
- Reduced movement in the ribs
As I write this, I am pretty sure that I have all of these symptoms – often! And I probably remembered straightening up, dropping my shoulders, touching my core, and adjusting my gaze at eye level about half a dozen times. How many times a day do you tell yourself to stop lying down?
Prevention of Upper Crossed Syndrome
Would you like to prevent Upper Crossed Syndrome? “Take breaks, stretch and move!” says Dr. George and Stefanie. “Good posture and frequent breaks are the only way to prevent upper crossed syndrome. Think about how you are sitting. Get a real desk with your screen at eye level and an ergonomic chair. Then set timers for breaks. “
It would be amazing to prevent upper crossed syndrome with excellent posture, but let’s face it, we are all comfortable in our seats or involved in what we do and end up with not-so-good posture.
Treatment of Upper Crossed Syndrome
“Good posture and frequent breaks are the only way to prevent upper crossed syndrome. Think about how you sit, ”said Dr. George and Stefanie Olar advise. Photo courtesy of 360 Chiropractic
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above – or as I might already be – it’s time to get help treating it. A chiropractor can assess your current body condition and look for the characteristic signs of UCS. “Patients with UCS have an anterior head carriage, shoulders that roll forward, and an upper hump (an increased kyphotic curvature),” shares Dr. Stefanie with.
If you have upper crossed syndrome there are several ways to treat it, including chiropractic, massage therapy, cold laser therapy, stretches, and exercise. Using a combination of these treatments is most effective.
“The overactive muscles caused by UCS are pulling your joints out of alignment,” shares Dr. George with. “As well as diagnosing UCS, a chiropractor can help alleviate some of the pain associated with it by realigning these joints.” 360 Chiropractic can help you with more than one adjustment. They also offer cold laser therapy and massage therapy, and even teach you stretches and exercises to correct this syndrome, so you can get all of the treatments under one roof.
“Chiropractic adjustments and cold laser therapy with neck traction can really help relieve symptoms of Upper Crossed Syndrome and get the neck back into position,” shares Dr. Stefanie said, “while massage therapy can help loosen these muscles. ”
A chiropractor in Lacey can assess your current body condition and look for the characteristic signs of UCS. Photo courtesy of 360 Chiropractic
Drs. George and Stefanie suggest exercises that work for your individual body and take into account your overall health. A simple stretch is to stand up straight with your hands folded behind your back. Then, press your hands down and away and pull your shoulder blades back. Lift your chest and lift your chin. This stretch can be held for 15-30 seconds. Make sure you inhale the stretch. “We can suggest a variety of stretches and exercises to help you feel pain-free again,” says Dr. Stefanie.
Use a tennis ball or lacrosse ball between your neck and shoulders in these tight spots to raise the trigger points in the upper trap / back upper shoulders. Stand against a wall or lie flat on the floor with your knees bent. Gently lean back into the ball to apply pressure against these tense muscles. Breathe in slowly and relaxed to relieve tension.
Contact Dr. George and Stefanie via the 360 Chiropractic website or by calling 360-923-0360.