The Upper Crossed Syndrome

December 7, 2012 | By | 1 Reply

Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS) is described as a muscle imbalance pattern located at the head and shoulder regions. It is most often found in individuals who work at a desk, computers or laptops or who sit for a majority of the day and continuously exhibit poor posture. It is the over activity and tightness of the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, sternocleidomastoid and pectoralis muscles, and reciprocal weakness and lengthening of the deep cervical flexors, lower trapezius &serratus anterior. This imbalance of the muscles at the head and shoulder regions will result in postural changes and movement dysfunction for individuals who present with UCS. Individuals who present with UCS will display a forward head, haunching of the thoracic spine (rounded upper back), elevated & protracted shoulders, and scapular winging and decreased mobility of the thoracic spine.

The Upper Crossed Syndrome

Below are some of the common health problems that can arise from chronic Upper Crossed Syndrome:

  • Trigger Points and fibromyalgia
  • Neck pains
  • Ache or burning in the shoulders
  • Pins and needles, or other referred symptoms into the arms and hands
  • Rotator cuff strains and other shoulder problems
  • Breathing disturbances
  • Migraines and tension headaches

The basic aim of treating a UCS is stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weak and elongated muscles. Here are a few exercises to begin with.


1. Levator Scapulae Stretch
Levator Scapulae Stretch

2. Upper Trapezius Stretch
Upper Trapezius Stretch

3. Pectorals Stretch
Pectorals StretchPectorals Stretch

4. Improve Thoracic Extension
Improve Thoracic ExtensionImprove Thoracic Extension


It basically involves strengthening the weak scapular stabilizers which are the rhomboids, middle and lower trapezius, serratus anterior; and the deep flexor muscles of the neck.

1. Deep Neck Flexors
Deep Neck Flexors

2. Rhomboids

3. Middle and Lower Trapezius
Middle and Lower Trapezius

4. Serratus Anterior
Serratus Anterior

The other most important factor is proper ergonomics. When sitting in front of the laptop, ensure that:

1. The screen is right in front of your eyes. No poking chin or facing downwards.

2. The keyboard should be at a level such that your elbows are bent at 90 degrees shoulders slightly back and wrist remain in neutral position with feet well supported on the ground and back erect.

At Physiorehab we conduct this program for corporate employees and office goers.

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  1. Maureen Leungconnolly says:

    My name is maureen. I am presently a student studying a Bachelor of Sports Orthopedic Massage at Southern Institute of Technology in NZ. I am always looking at these types of articles and because they are free – that is my understanding, it makes it possible to have access to these articles to advance my knowledge. Thank you Kindly

    Re. Maureen

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