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Don't Get Crossed with Upper Cross Syndrome!

Have you spent hours staring at a computer studying and working all day? Or have you been playing back-to-back games or binging on that Netflix show everyone's raving about?

Or maybe you have you been scrolling through Instagram or TikTok with your neck propped up on a pillow or arm of the couch. Nowadays with technology being enticing and easily accessible, we tend to forget how our body is positioned, not realizing it until we begin moving out of it. Other activities that could lead to Upper Crossed Syndrome includes driving, watching TV, biking and reading. If we begin to engage in this craned position for a long period of time, this can lead to a condition called Upper Crossed Syndrome.

And what is it exactly? Let's learn a little more about it and how you can deal with it!

Upper Crossed Syndrome (UXS)

UXS is caused by overactive muscles leading to underactive muscles due to the prolong positioned of a forward head posture. The term 'crossed' is used to describe the reciprocal relationship between the over and active muscles. Due to this inconsistency, this can lead to postural issues, leading to neck, head and shoulder stress, tightness and discomfort.

Common Symptoms of UXS:

  • Neck pain

  • Headache

  • Neck strain or weakness

  • Pain in upper back & shoulders

  • tightness or pain in chest

  • Jaw pain

  • Fatigue

Thinking you may have UXS? Do not worry! There are ways to improve your condition and attain better posture whether you're working from home, studying for an exam or gaming for hours. Check out these methods that can be performed to help with your posture & decrease your symptoms!

Corrective Stretches & Exercises

Chin Tuck

  1. Sit straight with neck in relaxed position

  2. Pull chin inwards like you're making a 'double chin'. Hold for 8s.

  3. Perform 1 set x 5 reps, Repeat 3-4x/day

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

  1. Sit straight while arms are by your side

  2. Squeeze shoulder blades together, pretending that there's a piece of paper in between. Hold it for 8s.

  3. Perform 2 set x 5 reps. Repeat 2-3x/day

Upper Trapezius Stretch

  1. Sit up straight.

  2. On the same time, bring the ear towards the shoulder

  3. For additional pressure, gently press down your head with your head, and bring the opposite arm behind your bottom.

  4. Hold for 20-30s. Repeat 3-4x/day.

Treatment Options

Besides home exercises, therapeutic treatments can help immensely. By communicating and working with practitioners (such as ones at Metatherapy!), getting help from experts can be an effective way to know more about your condition and receive hand-on treatments.

Tricks to Stay 'Un'-crossed

Depending on how focused we are in our task, sometimes we forget to stand up once in a while or re-adjust our posture. A simple and effective way to remind yourself to re-adjust your posture or perform some stretches is posting a sticky note on your computer with a quote such as "do stretches" or "sit straight". These cues can be effective and can cue you to perform the action whenever your eyes gaze over the note!

Try these out at home if you think you're suffering through Upper Crossed Syndrome!


Lilian Chang

University of Ottawa (B.HK.),

Post-Graduate, Humber College

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