For the final installment of the upper and lower cross syndrome series, we have the part you’ve all been waiting for, how to treat the crosses! We’ve explained how both syndromes work and how they were most likely acquired. Now you have background knowledge on how to prevent these from occurring or progressing; it’s time to start treatment if you do have one or both of these conditions.
So where do I start with Upper and Lower Cross Syndromes?
The first step is getting checked out by your chiropractor (I think I know one or two if you need a recommendation) to see if you have one of these issues. If you do, then being adjusted always helps as it will help reassure that the body makes and holds these changes. The problem with this alone is that if the muscles have adapted to these stresses you’ve been putting on them, they will think this state is the new normal (explained in another one of our blog posts). So, there needs to be support in the musculature to help foster these changes.
Can’t I just stretch?
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just getting a full body massage to relax everything because just being tight isn’t the whole picture. As we discussed there are some tight muscles and some weak muscles, so along with stretching, there must be some strengthening as well. That’s really what this is about, finding specific muscles to stretch and strengthen, and then how to do it. That is how to treat upper and lower cross syndrome and keep it at bay.
For upper cross syndrome or UCS, the aim is to relax the back of your neck and front of your pectoral muscles and strengthen the front of your neck and the muscles between your shoulder blades. Combined, they can even out the tension in your neck and upper back and help prevent the discomfort you’ve been feeling.
The easiest way to strengthen the front of the neck is to give yourself a double chin. Who knows the thing you’ve been doing for years in selfies could be the answer? Bringing your head backward while keeping it in neutral position activates your neck flexors, which are what we want to strengthen.
“Row” movements are the easiest and effective way to build up muscles between your shoulder blades. These can be seated rows, bent-over rows, anything that involves you pulling weight towards your chest. Focus on using your back rather than just your arms to do this and imagine you have a soda can between your shoulder blades you’re trying to crush with every movement. Building this area’s strength will increase the resting tone of the muscles so that they naturally pull back your shoulders so that they won’t be so rounded forward.
As for lower cross syndrome, or LCS, we need to strengthen the abdominals, to prevent the tipping on the pelvis forward from the tight hip flexors, as well as the glutes to give a counterbalance to the unyielding low back extensors pulling the back of the pelvis higher.
Lower Cross Syndrome (LCS)
To strengthen the abdominals you’ve got a lot of options. Planks, bed bugs, bird dogs, leg raises, Russian twists, mountain climbers, and bicycle crunches all work fantastic. Focus on having a tight core throughout these exercises like you’re about to be hit in the stomach.
Standard exercises are great to empower the glutes: variations of squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, lunges, monsters walks, and side-lying hip abduction are all great things to help with the main gluteus maximus and the gluteus medius as well. By working both muscles, they will help to equalize the pressure of the pelvis so it can be in a neutral position.
What about stretching?
As for stretching the muscles in both the upper and lower cross syndromes, there are plenty of ways, but the most effective way is to have a massage therapist help work out the initial tightness first. This gives some headway on the problem leading into transitioning into at-home stretches to compliment them.
For more great information on stretching for the cross syndromes, see this link for another chiropractor’s perspective!
Luckily, we have licensed massage therapists right here at Express Chiropractic of Frisco! We’ve got great chiropractors to help identify upper and lower cross syndromes, get you adjusted, and give insight into the best way to help get you back to where you need to be. Currently, we have a certificate for $10 off your initial visit, which includes consultation, examination, adjustment (if warranted), and a 10-minute massage with our licensed massage therapist!