So you’re reading an amazing blog post (this one, obviously), or you’re texting your friend right now (in which case you’re not actually reading this), but in either situation I’m going to tell you to pull your head in.
No, not figuratively, as we normally would be using that phrase, I mean literally. Draw your head backwards in space.
Did you notice that you were sticking your chin out? When you catch yourself red handed/chin forwarded (or if I just caught you chin forwarded…), it’s a great moment of realizing that not only might it have looked a bit weird, but also it’s rather poor posture.
And that recognition is the first step to quitting. (Yes, this is an intervention).
Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS), or sometimes referred to as Chin Forward Position, is a state that is encouraged by computer screens and phones. It’s also very bad for your posture and can contribute to the following health issues (in no particular order, and by no means an exhaustive list):
- Headaches and migraines
- Shoulder, neck and back pain/tension
- Tingling of the fingers
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Greater likelihood of shoulder injury
- Respiratory changes (shorter, shallow breathing)
- Feelings of Depression
You can see that this is something you’d probably like to correct, right? I mean, what if you are reading this and suffer from chronic migraines and you get tingling in the fingers? This could be your key to feeling good again.
Habitual movements that shorten certain muscles and connective tissue chains are most commonly the cause of UCS. Usually if we’re sitting at a desk, our anterior chain is in a shortened state. The body is incredibly good at adapting to the ways in which we move most commonly, and so as a result of sitting a lot and looking at the screen, our anterior chain gets tighter. And that pulls the head forward even more, creating this negative cyclical effect.
But, just like any habit – we can change it. Posture is something that is very malleable, yet we have to put in the work to create lasting change. Massage is great for inducing positive changes, but the greater onus lies with each of you in order to USE the range of motion that was opened when in treatment with your therapists. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it and we’ll be right back at square one.
That means the next time you see someone with immaculate posture, you can give them a congratulatory pat on the back, knowing that they’ve put in the hard yards and dedicated practice!
You probably want to know how to help free yourself from Upper Crossed Syndrome? Sure, here are a few things you can do:
- Stretch and lengthen the muscles of your chest. The next door frame you walk through, use it as a stretching platform by grabbing both sides and drawing your chest through the doorway. It feels SOOOOO good.
- Strengthen the muscles that pull your scapulae (shoulder blades) together on your back. You can do that any number of ways – one of my favourites is to lie on my stomach and lift my arms out perpendicular from my body. Lift your torso part-way too and that’ll help with the following:
- Strengthen the posterior extensors. Practice sitting up taller for longer, and use the above exercise to hit two birds with one stone.
- Lengthen the anterior chain of the body. There are many ways to do this, such as a yoga or movement practice, but something you can do at work is simply stand up. Move around, and when you stand still, make sure its effortful and not resting in one hip.
There are many other things you can do, of course, however that’s a start. And they are things you can do right now at home.
By the way, one warning sign of significant Upper Crossed Syndrome is needing multiple pillows at night to elevate your head (when you’re a back-sleeper).
Keep working on that posture by pulling your head in!