Upper Crossed Syndrome
What is it? And how can Remedial Massage help?Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS) is an extremely common musculoskeletal imbalance of the upper body. It is usually caused by poor posture or repetitive tasks in prolonged standing or sitting positions. As a consequence certain muscles become chronically tight, while others become long and weak. This muscular imbalance results in rounded shoulders/upper back, winging/tipping shoulder blades, and a forward head position with a poking out chin. The muscles affected in this common syndrome are the Pectoralis Major and Minor muscles in the chest, the Sub-Occipital muscles at the base of the skull and Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapulae in the upper shoulder/neck which all become overactive, short and tight. This excessive shortening of muscles causes an imbalance between muscles groups. Muscles such as Mid-Lower Trapezius, Rhomboids and Serratus Anterior of the upper back and the deep cervical flexors in the neck therefore become underactive, long and weak. The musculoskeletal imbalances of UCS can result in an array of pain or discomfort presentations. For example mid- upper back pain/tightness, neck pain/tightness, headaches, or pins and needles down the arms, just to name a few. Also overtime if untreated, these muscular imbalances can affect the position of the skeletal system leading to other chronic conditions such as shoulder instability, shoulder impingement and shoulder bursitis. Luckily Remedial Massage and correctly prescribed exercises can dramatically help with this condition. Remedial Therapists can use their skills in soft tissue work to release the tight, short and overactive muscles, and can give simple homework stretches/exercises. This is extremely important for while these large powerful muscles such as the Pecs or Upper traps remain tight, it is very challenging to properly strengthen the weak muscle groups. Remedial Therapists can also use techniques to stimulate the long, weak and underactive muscles encouraging them to activate and strengthen. Remedial Massage can be used as an effective complementary treatment for UCS, alongside Physiotherapy allowing the exercises prescribed by Physios to be most effective. If you feel like you relate to any of these symptoms, don’t wait, find the time to care for yourself and book some Remedial treatment today so you can move and feel your best!
What Causes neck pain?
- Poor posture: Ligaments become overstretched, muscles become tired and joints and nerves are put under strain. Slouching your shoulders with your head forward, sleeping in awkward positions, or working with your head down for long periods can all cause neck pain.
- Stress: Increases tension in the muscles.
- Arthritis: degeneration in the joints of the neck.
- Injuries from motor vehicle accidents, sport or occupational accidents commonly lead to whiplash where the head is thrown forward or backward.
How to prevent neck pain
- Posture: Think tall, lift your chest, relax your shoulders, tuck your chin in and keep your head level. Remember the posture around your pelvis is important too.
- Sleeping: A down or molded pillow is usually best. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- Relaxation: Learn to recognize when you are tense, relax your shoulders, avoid clenching your jaw, and take a few deep breaths.
- Heat: A heat pack on your neck will help to alleviate muscle spasm.
- Work: Avoid holding your neck in one position for long periods. Stretch and change position frequently, even if it is just a few shoulder rolls.
- Exercise: Keep your neck joints and muscles flexible and strong by performing the exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist as part of your daily routine.
Five ways to tell if your headache is caused by your neck ?
- Does your pain start at the top of your neck and then spread around to the front of your head?
- Does moving your neck make the pain worse?
- Does prolonged sitting make your headache worse?
- Do you have light headedness or dizziness?
- Is your headache eased by pressure to the base of the skull?
- Check your posture, think tall. Your shoulders should be relaxed, your chin tucked in and your head level. Your neck should feel straight and relaxed.
- Check your sitting position: especially if you are in a sustained position for long periods. You may need to stretch frequently throughout the day.
- Check your pillow: A memory foam pillow is best for most people. Do not use more than one pillow.
- Relax: watch that you are not clenching your teeth, or hunching your shoulders. Learn to recognize when you are tense and learn how to relax. Taking deep breaths or applying a heat pack to the tense muscles may help.
- Exercise: You need to keep your muscles and joints flexible and strong. You will be prescribed an exercise program that is appropriate for you.
Guidelines for healthy computer use • Move and stretch every hour to promote blood flow • Respond to any feeling of discomfort by changing position • Add variety to your tasks • Make sure you are sitting correctly and have your workstation set up to avoid strain Posture • Relax shoulders • Elbows at 90 degrees • Forearms level • Head upright and looking forward • Neck lengthened • Back supported by chair • Use a lumbar support • Feet fully supported on floor or footrest Work space • Place items close to your position based on how often you use them. Regularly used items should be placed within easy reach • If you are using the phone a lot look into a head set or speaker phone. Never cradle the phone between the side of your head and your shoulder. Chair • Adjust seat height so that feet or flat on floor or foot rest with your knees at or slightly below the level of your hips • With your bottom pushed into the back of the seat, adjust the back rest height so that the lumbar support is in the lumbar or curved area of your spine • Recline the back rest angle between 95-110 degrees so that both the upper and lower part of the back is supported • Adjust the armrest height so that your shoulders are not elevated Computer • The top of the monitor should be positioned at eye level • Torso must not be twisted • Keyboard and mouse should be just below elbow level • Keyboard should be centred in front of you • Adjust the keyboard tit so that your wrist is in neutral (straight) • Monitor should be about arms length away • Lighting should be even and glare free
• Hold your head up straight with your chin in. • Ensure that your earlobes are in line with the middle of your shoulders. • Keep your shoulders back. • Push your chest out, slightly. • Keep your knees straight, but not locked. • Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling. • Engage your abdominals, but don’t suck in or tilt your pelvis. • Carry your weight equally between the balls and heels of your feet. • Breathe naturally. Ways to Improve Posture 1. Exercise Focus on stretching tightened muscles in the chest, front of the shoulders, and hip flexors (front of the hips) as well as strengthening back, abdominal, and glute muscles. 2. Foam Roll Foam rolling, or myofascial release, is becoming much more popular, and for good reason. It is essentially like a deep tissue massage for your muscles. This is important because it allows tight muscles and fascia to loosen up so that stretching those muscles becomes easier. If you have formed bad posture of years and years of bad habit, it may be very challenging to correct it without release those over worked and tight muscles. 3. Ergonomics Ergonomics involves changing your environment to support and encourage good posture. Adding lumbar support to your chair is a good example, or even invest in a standing desk. You could also modify a tool, work station, counter height, or task to improve its ergonomics. 4. Eliminate Bad Habits You must first be conscious of these bad habits, but things such as slouching in a chair or reading while lying down are some places to start. Working under dim light is also one, it results is craning your head forward to see your work better as well as slouching. Even driving your car in a bad position can help contribute to poor posture. Did you know posture affects many areas of your life: Mood Memory Confidence Digestion Bones & Muscles Content adapted from http://blog.paleohacks.com/how-to-improve-your-posture/#
The school holidays have flown by and now it is time to think about getting the kids organised for school: uniforms, stationary, lunch boxes and of course a school bag. Choosing the right bag is really important as their growing bodies are carrying heavy loads and we need to ensure that the load is being distributed evenly. Here are a few tips to consider when choosing a back pack: APA physiotherapists recommend school children should wear a backpack that weighs no more than 10 per cent of a child’s body weight, yet research on back problems in children aged 12-17 years found 61% carried more than 10 per cent of their bodyweight on their backs on a daily basis. “Far too many students are carrying around very heavy weights on their back - particularly those in high school,” APA National President Marcus Dripps said. “We know an overloaded or incorrectly-worn backpack can be a major source of chronic strain, and can cause shoulder, neck and back pain in children. “Stress put on the spine can cause your child to lean too far forward and experience distortion of the natural curve, rolling their shoulders and causing a more rounded upper-back. Neck and shoulder pain can also develop from wearing a bag on one shoulder, or a bag with straps that are too thin that dig into the shoulder muscles and strain the neck,” Mr Dripps said. Key tips to remember when your child starts school:
- Wear backpack load close to the spine - pack the heaviest items nearest to your child’s back
- Children must wear both straps at all times
- Backpacks should always weigh less than 10 per cent of your child’s body weight
- Ensure your child is carrying only what they need - encourage your child to be organised and check their timetable when packing their bag for school
- To decrease the load your child should have separate folders for each subject so that they can only bring home what they need for their homework
- Encourage your child to be physically active – walking to school every day has many benefits for you, your children and your community.
- Parents should contact a physiotherapist if they are concerned about their child's posture, back health or obesity and weight management related conditions. Pediatric physiotherapists have particular expertise in this area.
- Wide shoulder straps that are comfortable and sit well on the shoulder
- Waist and chest straps to help transfer some of the load to the hips and pelvis
- A padded back-support that allows the pack to fit ‘snugly’ on the back
- The backpack must fit the child. Don’t buy a big pack to ‘grow’ into, when sitting with the backpack on, the pack should not extend higher than the child’s shoulders
- Look for one that carries an endorsement from a professional health organisation. The APA endorses Spartan Physiopaks
Guidelines for healthy computer use
- Move and stretch every hour to promote blood flow
- Respond to any feeling of discomfort by changing position
- Add variety to your tasks
- Make sure you are sitting correctly and have your workstation set up to avoid strain
- Relax shoulders
- Elbows at 90 degrees
- Forearms level
- Head upright and looking forward
- Neck lengthened
- Back supported by chair
- Use a lumbar support
- Feet fully supported on floor or footrest
- Place items close to your position based on how often you use them. Regularly used items should be placed within easy reach
- If you are using the phone a lot look into a head set or speaker phone. Never cradle the phone between the side of your head and your shoulder.
- Adjust seat height so that feet or flat on floor or foot rest with your knees at or slightly below the level of your hips
- With your bottom pushed into the back of the seat, adjust the back rest height so that the lumbar support is in the lumbar or curved area of your spine
- Recline the back rest angle between 95-110 degrees so that both the upper and lower part of the back is supported
- Adjust the armrest height so that your shoulders are not elevated
- The top of the monitor should be positioned at eye level
- Torso must not be twisted
- Keyboard and mouse should be just below elbow level
- Keyboard should be centered in front of you Adjust the keyboard tit so that your wrist is in neutral (straight)
- Monitor should be about arms length away
- Lighting should be even and glare free