We live in a world where technology has become advanced. From the smart phone, to the tablet and to the laptop, every device is designed to make our lives easy. However, in making our lives easier, technology has done a number on our bodies, especially our posture.
If you don’t believe me, just watch the next ten people who pass you by walking down the street. My guess is that ten of them have poor posture! They have what is commonly called in our exercise world upper cross syndrome (UCS).
Let’s delve deep into UCS and see how we as fitness professional can help anyone improve their posture with three awesome exercises!
What is UCS?
Upper cross syndrome is a compensatory pattern discovered by Dr. Vladamir Janda in the early 1970’s. He observed how certain individuals’ bodies would present themselves in static posture with a forward head and rounded shoulders. If left unaddressed, this body position could lead to certain injuries, such as headaches, rotator cuff impingement and thoracic outlet syndrome.
Some of the typical muscles that are overactive (i.e. overworking) in UCS include:
- Upper trapezius
- Levator scapulae
- Latissimus dorsi
- Pectoralis major/minor
Some of the typical muscles that are underactive (i.e. underworking) in UCS include:
- Serratus anterior
- Mid to low trapezius
- Deep cervical flexors
The overactive muscles can lead to many things, including excessive cervical extension and the underactive muscles can lead to reduced shoulder extension.
As fitness professionals, we have clients with UCS. Here’s a simple solution to help them:
- The first thing we want to do is get the overactive muscles to relax. A proven approach is to use an inhibitory technique followed up with static stretching. For example, you can have your client foam roll their latissimus dorsi and then statically stretch it too:
- After getting the overactive muscles to relax, the next step is to work on the underactive or weak muscles. For example, you can have your client work their mid to low traps with an exercise like prone cobras:
Two other great mid/low traps and rhomboids exercises are Cable Shoulder Extensions and Ball Combo I:
- Lastly, now that we have the over and underactive muscles working together, it is time for the body to allow all its muscles to work together with proper activation and timing between them. This is known as intermuscular coordination and control. For example, a good exercise that integrates multiple muscles for upper cross syndrome would be a squat to row:
In conclusion, UCS is common with many of our clients. Fortunately, we have many proven techniques that we can use to help them with their exercise program particular the one listed above. Give it a try with your clients!
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