What are upper and lower cross syndromes?
Identified and given their names in 1979 by a Czechoslovakian doctor, Dr. Vladimir Janda, both the Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS) and the Lower Crossed Syndrome (LCS) occur when muscles in the body weaken from inaction. All the body’s muscles are interconnected, other muscles start to pick up the slack. Simply said, when one muscle becomes weak, another muscle must take over the work.
Upper Crossed Syndrome is caused anterior head translation and rounded "slouched" shoulders. Mid-back muscles become very weak. Due to this weakening in the back the pectoral and neck muscles tighten. This causes pain and dysfunction throughout the upper body.
In a case of Lower Cross Syndrome, the abdominal and gluteus maximus muscles become weak from lack of use. As a result, the hip flexor and low back muscles become very tight, as they are forced to take over the work that the glutes and abdominals would otherwise perform. This causes pain and dysfunction in the lower body.
If these muscle imbalances persist over long periods of time they start to cause damage to the surface of the joints and eventually lead to degeneration. There are many other consequences as well, including loss of range of motion, fatigue due to constantly overworked muscles, increased risk for disc herniation (especially when poor posture is combined with exertion, headaches, pinched nerves, reduced lung capacity, poor digestion due to compression of internal organs, and less energy.
What can I do?
An evaluation of general posture and muscle patterns by your chiropractor can determine if this is an issue for you. Chiropractic adjustments can re-align the joints and relax the overused muscles, this will lead to improved joint function. Home exercises and postural awareness are very important pieces to the overall treatment. Even if symptoms only recently started, this does not mean that the problem has not been going on for quite some time, and as such it may take cooperation on the part of the patient to achieve the best results. And as you sit at work, listen to that voice inside your head, whether it is you mom, your chiropractor, or both and sit up straighter!