Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS), which goes hand in hand with hunchback posture and protracted shoulders, is, just like its sibling Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS), a very common musculoskeletal conditions nowadays. I would go as far as to say that most people exhibit some signs of UCS. It’s not surprising that this condition is so prevalent in modern societies, seeing as a lot of contemporary humans sit at a desk in front of a computer for many hours every day in a hunched position. Moreover, many gym goers pay more attention to the muscles they can see in the mirror, in particular the pecs and biceps, than those that make up the posterior part of their bodies, such as the rhomboid muscles. They favor the bench-press and the bicep curl over the seated row and the standing cable row and typically fail to properly retract their shoulders when they’re exercising. The result is that they develop muscular imbalances.
UCS is not just aesthetically unpleasing, it also sets the stage for back pain and suboptimal athletic performance. People who develop muscle imbalance syndromes such as UCS typically enter into a vicious cycle in which the “overactive” muscles gradually get stronger and the inhibited muscles gradually get weaker.
Fortunately, muscle imbalance syndromes such as UCS can be treated. This really goes without saying, seeing as excessive sitting, sedentary behavior, and imbalanced training can produce muscle imbalances; hence, it’s safe to assume that one can correct muscle imbalances by doing activities that counteract the effects of excessive sitting, sedentary behavior, and imbalanced training. This idea doesn’t just make intuitive sense, it’s also supported by research. For example, a fairly recent study found that middle and lower trapezius strength exercises and levator scapulae and upper trapezius stretching exercises are effective in the treatment of UCS (1).
Not so long ago, I put up an article here on the site in which I described the general plan I’ve been using to treat UCS. In order to make this plan more accessible and easier to make sense of, I’ve now created an infographic that depicts its main components.