Upper Crossed Syndrome II

With upper crossed syndrome the first thing we need to work on is releasing the over-active area including the pectoralis complex as well as the levator scapula and upper traps.  There are several methods of decreasing the tone in the over-active group.  Soft tissue work is by far my favorite method.  That includes various forms of rolling, as well as massage.  Using a stick is an excellent way to get into the upper traps, and levator scapulae.  They really aren’t accessible with a foam roller and using any type of ball to get into the area is pretty difficult due to lack of pressure.   After soft tissue means, we incorporate stretches to the affected chest and upper traps to reset proper length. 

The opposite end of the spectrum requires strengthening the retractors and depressors of the scapulae, as well as the serratus anterior. 

Using various prone position retraction, and depression exercises will help to strengthen the mid back.  These exercises include Y’s, T’s, Cobra’s, Rows (elbows out), Rows (elbows back), Blackburns, etc.  Making sure athletes maintain proper position during rectraction, and depression exercises is key to strengthening the mid back. 

Are your scaps working?

Creating thoracic extension will go a long way in helping resolve the problem of rounded over shoulders.  Athletes rounded over are at increased risk when performing overhead movements because the sub-acromial space is decreased.  By extending the thoracic spine, we actually open up the front side stretching the chest and rectus abdominus.  As well, we gain activation of the thoracic musculature on the back side. 

Creating thoracic extension

Athletes that are at an increased risk for upper crossed syndrome include tennis players, swimmers, and baseball athletes.  I have seen it in swimmers and tennis players most frequently.  These athletes’ main sporting movements involve lots of humeral internal rotation. In the end proper training adaptations must be made to correct the imbalances that occur through sport.  Being conscious of proper posture outside of the sport as well will help to reset the problems associated with upper crossed syndrome. 

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