By Shari Jainuddin, ND, BCB
Maybe they do figuratively, but I am talking literally. With the infiltration of electronics into every facet of our lives, and even more so now with an increase in the number of people working at or having to stay home, physical ailments stemming from the chronic use of them affects most of us. Headaches, neck and back pain are the big hitters.
So, let’s discuss the literal cross; I’m talking about Upper Cross Syndrome. What the heck is Upper Crossed Syndrome (UCS)? No, it’s not crossed eyes or when you see a person that looks cross. For this, you have to take your vantage point to the side of the person. At the level of their shoulder, superimpose a big “X”, like X marks the spot. This X represents the combination of tight and weak muscles that typically result from looking at or working in front of electronics. When you look at someone from the side, you may notice that their shoulders roll forward and the space in the back of their neck gets short with the chin jetting forward. This is UCS. The X connects the opposing tight and weak muscle groups. I will not go into further detail here, but a quick internet search will give you a plethora of information and diagrams.
The bottom line to address this posture is to strengthen the weak muscles and stretch the tight ones. In my experience, the best way to start to do this is by strengthening the upper back muscles (rhomboids and trapezius) and stretching out the pectoral muscles. (The Superman Exercise and Doorway Pectoral Stretch are great places to start and diagrams and instructions can be found easily online.) Once these two areas start getting addressed, the neck tends to want to self-correct its alignment, and you can encourage this by tucking your chin back and lengthening the back of the neck.
Taking health breaks from electronics frequently, at least every hour, and doing a couple minutes to address the postural muscles can be beneficial. Doing so starts to bring awareness to those areas and “wake up” those muscles groups. And we all know change starts with awareness.