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Upper Cross Syndrome

You’ve either stumbled upon this page looking up a chiropractor in Lebanon to treat neck pain or Dr. McKinney referred you here. The purpose of this page is to help educate our patients on upper cross syndrome which has to do with muscles in the neck and shoulders that have become too tight or weak. The presence of tightened/shortened muscles groups along with the weakened muscles causes an imbalance that may lead to instability. This instability may also be perceived as pain, which is often the motivator to find a chiropractor. Some patients may also experience lower cross syndrome.

Upper Cross Syndrome Muscle Involvement

The muscles involved with upper cross syndrome are:
  • weak: deep neck flexors | lower trapezius  |serratus anterior
  • tight: upper trapezius | levator scapula | pectroalis
Here is a picture to better depict why it is called upper cross syndrome.
upper cross syndrome

So how do I fix upper cross syndrome?

Chiropractic treatments have been proven to decrease pain in upper cross syndrome. The manual manipulation of chiropractic therapy induces an instant neuromuscular response that will help to relax contracted/tight muscles. When the muscles have had the ability to relax, this will often be perceived as a decrease in pain. This pain management technique is very good however we would like to see our patients take further control of this. In order to benefit the most, stretching and exercises need to be performed. By stretching the contracted muscles and strengthening the weakened muscles your body will take off a lot of strain, subsequently decreasing perceived pain. Here is a comprehensive guide to stretches and exercises for upper cross syndrome, pictures courtesy of Thera-Band.  If you’re still struggling be sure to make an appointment with Dr. McKinney and ask him to show you some stretches and exercises at Fredericksburg Chiropractic.

Stretches for Upper Cross Syndrome

  • Pectoralis Stretch

    Leaning into a door (door can be open) with an open palm on the door frame is a great way to stretch the pectoralis muscles. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds repeating 3-4 times, stretch both sides individually.

    Pectoralis Stretch
  • Seated Resistance Band Row

    Using a Thera-Band or another elastic resistance band is a great way to strengthen the weakened lower trapezius and serratus anterior muscles. Keeping your legs and back straight, slowly pull the resistance bands by your sides doing 3 sets of 15-30 repetitions.

    Seated Resistance Band Row
  • Chest Stretch

    Extending arms behind your body and interlocking fingers, you should feel a stretch in your chest as you gently lift your elbows up. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, repeat 3 times.

    Chest Stretch
  • Body Ball Stretch

    A great exercise to improve mobility in the upper back is to kneel on the floor with outstretched arms, placing palms on a body ball. The upper back is stretched when lowering your midsection to the floor and rolling the body ball forward.

    Chest Stretch

Exercises for Upper Cross Syndrome

  • Neck Extension Exercise

    Wrap a resistance band around the back of your head and grip the band with elbows bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your chin slightly tucked with the neck in a neutral position, extend your arms in front of you. During the course of this strengthening exercise, keep your head still and steady. This exercise will help to strengthen the deep neck flexors and should be performed 3 times with 15-30 repetitions each time.

    Neck Extension Exercise