Upper Crossed Syndrome – How to Fix It?

Neck, Spine, Upper Back, Blog, Shoulder, / By Koh Peh Chia

With the new heightened alert recently announced, this week we will be sharing more about a condition that we saw an increase in during the previous circuit breaker due to many working from home. Upper crossed syndrome (UCS) is a very common condition that can cause pain in the neck and shoulders to many. However, by taking a few simple steps every day, it can be relieved.

What Is Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Upper crossed syndrome (UCS) is a general term where tightness in certain muscles and weakness in others in the upper half of your body causes an imbalance. The muscles that are tight are your chest and upper back muscles. The muscles that are weak are your mid back and neck muscles. This causes a cross across the body thus the name.

What are the Symptoms?

These are some of the issues that characterize Upper Crossed Syndrome:
– Forward head posture
– Increased curvature of the neck
– Rounded and elevated shoulders
– Winging of shoulder blade
– Instability at shoulder joint
– Neck and shoulder pain

What Causes Upper Crossed Syndrome?

This condition usually comes about due to the individual being in a rounded position for extended periods of time. Thus, the body recognizes this and adapts to this movement that is repeated. This leads us to another question: What makes us go into this position of muscle imbalance?

The most common cause is usually posture.

When we use our phone or computers for work, we tend to lean forward and round our shoulders to look down at our screens. This is especially prevalent with people who use a laptop or screen which is not at their eye level.


What Can I Do to Fix It?

This condition can be fixed by a comprehensive approach of releasing the tight muscles as well as strengthening the weak muscles as shown below.

Release the Upper Back

– Place a foam roller under your upper back, raise your arms above your head and hold this stretch for 1 minute.
– Repeat this 3 -4 times a day.


Release the Chest Muscles

– Place a Lacrosse Ball at the side of your chest muscle close to your armpit
– With the ball pressed against a wall, roll around the area, releasing the tight spots.
– Do this for 1 minute 3-4 times a day.


Strengthen the Mid Back

The muscles that we want to strengthen are called the rhomboids. There are many exercises that do that, but 1 exercise we recommend is the banded pull apart.

– Holding an exercise band at shoulder height
– Pull the band apart and squeeze your shoulder blade apart.
– Do this exercise for 3 sets of 15 repetitions


Upper Crossed Syndrome is just one of the many conditions you can suffer from that concerns neck and shoulder pain. If you are unsure about what condition you have, contact us to book an appointment to be assessed by one of our therapists.
Winsen Citra
Principal Physiotherapist

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Bayattork, M., Seidi, F., Minoonejad, H. et al. The effectiveness of a comprehensive corrective exercises program and subsequent detraining on alignment, muscle activation, and movement pattern in men with upper crossed syndrome: protocol for a parallel-group randomized controlled trial. Trials 21, 255 (2020).



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