What do you call it when you frequently sit in a chair with an iPad in your lap? Bad posture! Anatomists call it Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS). This postural misalignment is recognized by rounded shoulders, a head that leans forward, and an aching pain in the low back. It is most commonly seen in the elderly, however due to modern lifestyles, UCS is afflicting the young and middle aged.
Anatomically speaking, UCS can be defined as tightness of the scalenes, pectoralis major and minor muscles, stiffness in the upper trapezius and levator scapulae muscles, and a weakening in the middle and lower trapezius, serratus anterior, and rhomboid muscle groups. This pattern of muscle imbalance creates glenohumeral dysfunction. In other words, when your neck and chest are tight and your upper back is weak, your shoulder joints will take a beating.
To combat UCS, you can practice corrective exercises and movements designed to stretch the chest and strengthen the upper back.
The following suggestions may help enhance your posture and alleviate muscle aches. They are not intended to diagnose a disease, or prescribe exercises for an undiagnosed condition. Always consult with your doctor or physical therapist first, when your body is in pain.
Chest and Neck Stretches (Pectoralis Major and Minor, Scalenes and Sternocleidomastoid)
Stand with right shoulder next to a wall. Reach right arm back and place right hand on the wall. Turn chest perpendicular to the wall, until a stretch is felt across the front of the right shoulder and in the middle of the chest. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Switch sides.
Interlace fingers behind your back. If that is not comfortable, grab a yoga strap, a rolled up towel, or a belt with both hands instead. Reach arms down and back as you gently lift them away from your hips. Look up. Broaden your collar bones and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.
Upper Back Strengthener (Trapezius, Rhomboids, and Serratus Anterior)
From a prone position, extend arms back with palms facing up. Lift chest, arms, and legs. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.
Overall Chest and Back Toning Exercise
From your hands and knees, begin to flex and extend your spine (aka: round and arch your back). Repeat 10 to 15 times.
A special thanks to our Whole Enchilada teacher David Stickler for providing the demonstrations. Come see us in 2017. We’re primed and ready to help you attain your goals in the New Year.