Treatment for Upper Crossed Syndrome

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Treatment for Upper Crossed Syndrome

Treatment for Upper Crossed Syndrome

Upper crossed syndrome is the deformation of the chest, shoulders, and neck muscles. This is usually brought on by poor posture leading to the back muscles near the neck and shoulders to become strained causing the muscles in the chest to tighten.

When the neck, shoulder, and chest muscles are overused, the other muscles around these areas are underused and weaken. The name of this syndrome comes from the “crossing” or overlapping of the overused muscles with the less active muscles.

What causes UCS?

Usually UCS is caused by long term posture issues. Sitting and standing with the neck pushed forward for long stints of time while using a phone, watching TV or computer work, driving, or after a back/neck injury.

Some Symptoms of UCS?

Pain or weakness in the neck, back, and shoulders

Tightness in the chest


Posture troubles and pain when performing tasks or driving

Jaw pain

Hard to move neck and shoulders

Feelings of pain or numbness in the upper arms

… to name a few.

Treatment for UCS

Treatments for UCS include a combination of physical therapy, chiropractic, and specific exercises to be performed at home (our office location share space with both physical therapy, chiropractic care, and can also assist in posture improving DME products).

Physical therapy Treatment

The physical therapist first evaluates the cause of the posture issue, and then they educate the patient on how to help correct the cause in the future. The therapist may use manual therapy, e-stim, heat/cold therapy, and specific exercises to correct UCS. Exercises will be done at the clinic and prescribed for continuation at home.

Exercises include:

Lying down exercises

  • Lay flat on the ground with a thick pillow placed about a third of the way up your back in alignment with your spine.
  • Let your arms and shoulders roll out and your legs fall open in a natural position.
  • Your head should be neutral and not feel stretched or strained. If it does, use a pillow for support.
  • Stay in this position for 10–15 minutes and repeat this exercise several times per day.

Sitting down exercises

  • Sit with your back straight, place your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees.
  • Put your palms flat on the ground behind your hips and rotate your shoulders backward and down.
  • Stay in this position for 3–5 minutes and repeat the exercise as many times as you can throughout the day.

Chiropractic Treatment

Chiropractic treatment can be beneficial for Upper Crossed Syndrome. Treatment will most likely include an adjustment to realign the joints that have been affected by poor posture. It will also assist in lengthening and relaxing the tightened muscles.


You may be suffering from Upper Crossed Syndrome if you find that your neck curves in, causing your head to lean forward and your upper back may curve outward causing shoulders to be rounded - Simply put, if you suffer from poor posture and have trouble regaining the nice looking stance that you once had, it may be time to get evaluated by a physical therapist to determine if you are suffering from UCS. The previously mentioned treatments should be able to correct and prevent UCS in the future with continued posture correction.

Please contact our Massachusetts Physical Therapy Clinic in Norwood, Foxboro, or Framingham, MA to schedule an evaluation for UCS. 


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