Clinique Chiropratique du Pontiac

5 STRETCHES AND EXERCISES FOR BETTER POSTURE

How many hours a day do you spend in front of a screen with your head tilted forward? Think about it. If you have a cell phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer, you probably spend hours hunched over them. When you’re watching TV, driving or reading, chances are you’re leaning your head forward again. This constant tilting of the head causes postural deformities which often result in movement patterns that increase the strain on the neck, shoulders and head.

Superior Cross Syndrome is defined by a muscular imbalance in the head and shoulder region. It is most often seen in people who work at a desk or spend most of the day sitting with poor posture. The term “upper” simply refers to the head and neck region. There is also a lower cross syndrome for the lumbar and pelvic region. The term “crossed” refers to the cross formed by tense or over-used muscles and weak or under-used muscles. Stiffness in the upper back muscles is also found in the chest muscles, while weakness in the neck muscles is found in the mid-back muscles, forming a cross. The most common signs and symptoms of upper-cross syndrome are: head tilted forward, rounded shoulders, hunched upper back, headaches, as well as shoulder, upper back and neck pain.

Fortunately, you can improve your posture and muscular coordination by adjusting your workstation and doing stretching and strengthening exercises.

Below are some exercises that contribute to posture:

Stretching:

Trapezius stretching
While seated, gently bring your right ear towards your right shoulder. To add a little pressure, pass your right hand over your head and let it rest on your left cheekbone. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Do it 3 or 4 times a day.

Scapula elevator stretch
This is a modified version of the previous exercise. Apply light pressure to the head, with the nose pointing towards the armpit. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Do this 3 or 4 times a day.

Chest stretch (Brugger relaxation position)
Sitting on the end of a chair, legs slightly wider apart than shoulders, raise your arms, palms up, to stretch your chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Do this exercise 3 or 4 times a day.
Muscle-building exercises:

Chin tuck
From a seated position, look straight ahead and pull your head back to form a double chin. Do not tilt your head downwards. Hold for 8 seconds and repeat 5 times. Do this series 3 or 4 times a day.

Shoulder blade compression
Sitting comfortably on a chair, arms relaxed at your sides, bring your shoulder blades together, without raising them. Hold for 8 seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times. Do this series 3 or 4 times a day.

As well as doing these exercises, read our guide to office ergonomics. You’ll find tips on how to optimize your workspace:

https://www.chiropractic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/office-ergonomics.jpg

To find out more about upper-cross syndrome or to get advice on other exercises, consult a chiropractor today.

References:

Dawson-Cook, S. (2011). How’s Your Posture? American Fitness (3), 24.
Upper Crossed Syndrome. Muscleimbalancesyndromes.com. Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://www.muscleimbalancesyndromes.com/janda-syndromes/upper-crossed-syndrome/
Upper Crossed Syndrome: 4 Steps to Correct Rounded Shoulders and Hunchback Posture. (2015). Darwinian Medicine. Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://darwinian-medicine.com/upper-crossed-syndrome-4-steps-to-correct-rounded-shoulders-and-hunchback-posture/