Do you find yourself hunched over a desk or device more? Are you experiencing an increase in neck pain and headaches? You might be developing upper crossed syndrome. 

Upper crossed syndrome is a term used to describe a common pattern in neck and shoulder posture. I often see this in patients who are desk workers, but also more commonly due to mobile device usage. This can cause neck and back tension, as well as headaches.

Let’s dive into the name. “Upper” refers to the neck region (there is also a lower crossed syndrome). “Crossed” refers to the fact that the tight muscles are diagonal and the weak muscles are diagonal (see picture). Lastly “syndrome” means a group of symptoms that occur together. 

The tight muscles are the pectorals muscles and the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and suboccipitals. The weak (or lengthened) muscles are the deep neck flexors and the rhomboids.

In order to correct this. We stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak muscles. I have videos are for the following stretches and exercises:

Pectorals door frame stretch:

Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapulae Stretch:

Chink Tucks (Stretch suboccipitals, activate deep neck flexors):