Personal Trainers
June 26, 2022

What is Upper Crossed Syndrome and how to train someone with it - 2022

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Personal Trainers
What is Upper Crossed Syndrome and how to train someone with it - 2022
Cory McKane
Blog Post Summary:

As a personal trainer, there are common conditions you might come across in some of your clients. One of the most popular conditions seen today is upper crossed syndrome, which is a posture condition. There is more than one cause for this condition, multiple movements to treat it, and tips to prevent it in the future. 

As a personal trainer, there are common conditions you might come across in some of your clients. One of the most popular conditions seen today is upper crossed syndrome, which is a posture condition. When you notice this in your clients, you will want to recommend some upper crossed syndrome exercises to help correct it. There is more than one cause for this condition, multiple movements to treat it, and tips to prevent it in the future. 

Even as someone without a trainer, you can work on addressing any symptoms you have of UCS on your own. Once you have recovered from this condition, there are plenty of tips to follow to keep from developing it again. 

What Is Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Before you can begin to correct upper crossed syndrome in your clients you need to understand what it is. This condition has to do with an individual’s posture and can be caused by more than one thing. 

This syndrome happens when the muscles of the neck, chest, and shoulder become strained. This happens from the overactivity of the muscles and eventually causes them to tighten. Surrounding muscles weaken at the same time. 

Muscles weakened, damaged, or stretched by this condition include the;

  • Pectorals
  • Rhomboids
  • Lower trapezius
  • Deep cervical flexors
  • Upper trapezius
  • Suboccipitals

Diagnosing UCS

A professional will diagnose upper crossed syndrome by looking at a few factors, such as the symptoms and what usually causes the symptoms. An expert will see if you have a “hunch” type posture, and ask about any pain or tightness in your shoulders, neck, or chest. Doctors will have you move your neck and shoulders as well to see the muscles in motion. 

There are specific signs that a medical professional will look at. These include;

  • Rounded forward shoulders. 
  • A slouched forward neck or shoulders. 
  • Inward curved spine near the neck. 
  • Shoulder blades that are protruding. 

Upper crossed syndrome has also been found to cause frequent tension headaches. 


Upper crossed syndrome is accompanied by several common symptoms. Telling your doctor about any of these can help them to accurately diagnose you. 

  • Pain in the jaw. 
  • Trouble with driving for long periods of time. 
  • Pain and tightness in the chest. 
  • Weakness in the neck. 
  • Neck pain. 
  • Lower back pain. 
  • Fatigue. 
  • Headaches. 

What Causes Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Upper crossed syndrome can be caused by more than one thing, but having poor posture is the most common cause. It can also come from being hunched over when driving, reading, using a phone, or performing similar activities. When you have poor posture doing these activities, it can cause damage to the muscles in your shoulders, neck, chest, and upper back. Over time they will become deformed, which will contribute to a range of painful symptoms. 

Common causes of UCS include;

  • Reading
  • Driving 
  • Using a laptop or smartphone 
  • Riding a bike
  • Watching TV
  • Pour routine when exercising

Knowing the cause behind your upper crossed syndrome can help you treat the condition, and prevent it from coming back in the future. Despite how common it is, there is not just one cause for this syndrome. 

How To Correct UCS

There is more than one way to correct upper crossed syndrome, and the exact treatment will depend on the cause behind it and the severity. More severe cases might require more in-depth physical therapy and medical care, but many cases can be treated with exercise. You can offer certain exercises to clients who suffer from UCS to do on their own, or you can guide them through the movements. 

Popular Corrective Exercises

There is more than one exercise that has proven effective in correcting upper crossed syndrome.

Sitting Exercise

  • Sit down with your feet flat on the ground and bend your knees. 
  • With your palms behind your hips and flat on the ground, rotate your shoulders back and down. 
  • Hold the position for three to five minutes, and repeat it as many times as possible. 
  • You can do this routine daily. 

Lying Down Exercise

  • Lay down flat on the ground, with a thick pillow one-third of the way up your back. Make sure it is in alignment with your spine. 
  • Allow your shoulders and arms to roll out, and legs to fall open naturally. 
  • Make sure your head is neutral. Use a pillow if needed to keep your neck from feeling strained. 
  • Hold the position for ten to fifteen minutes, and repeat it multiple times throughout the day. 

Other Exercises To Use

There are also exercises you can perform on equipment to correct upper crossed syndrome. Two especially beneficial movements are face pulls and seated rows. Bench presses, deadlifts, and squats are also helpful. 

Make sure to always perform warm-up stretches, especially ones that focus on the neck, shoulder and chest muscles like pectoral stretches. 

Other Treatments for UCS

There are other treatment options to consider, especially if the upper crossed syndrome is severe. In addition to a physical therapist, you might want to seek out a chiropractor. This can be especially helpful if the UCS has put a lot of strain on the spine. Upper crossed syndrome can damage the joints, but a chiropractor can get them realigned. 

Physical therapists can also be helpful by offering manual movement of the strained muscles. In order to correct upper crossed syndrome, it may take exercises, in addition to physical therapy and chiropractic care. Over-the-counter pain relief medication and cold compresses can act as quick relief of UCS pain. 

Ways To Avoid Developing Upper Crossed Syndrome 

Once you have recovered from upper crossed syndrome you will want to know how to prevent it in the future. If you are a personal trainer you will want to know tips for avoiding this condition so you can properly educate your clients.

Tips to Follow

There are a few ways you can work to avoid and prevent upper crossed syndrome in the future. 

  • Make sure to wear shoes that offer ample support. 
  • If you have to sit for a long period of time then take frequent breaks to stretch and take a short walk. 
  • If you have to stand for a long time then support one foot. 
  • Make an effort to exercise your core muscles every day. 
  • Exercise your chest, shoulder, and neck muscles between two and three times each week. 
  • When sitting, make sure to have proper posture that doesn’t cause any pain or numbness in your muscles. 
  • Don’t bend your neck to look at your phone or read. Instead, put the object at eye level. 
  • Support your lower back and neck with thick pillows or rolled towels when in bed. 
  • Practice proper form and movement when working out. 
  • Make sure to stretch and warm up properly before working out. 

If you have recently recovered from upper crossed syndrome then you will want to keep in mind any advice from your doctor, physical therapist, or personal trainer. Following this advice should prevent you from developing the condition again in the future. 

Final Thoughts 

Whether you suffer from upper crossed syndrome yourself or know a client who is struggling with it, there are plenty of ways to recover. It is a common syndrome with painful symptoms that affect the muscles of your shoulders, chest, neck, and back. 

Once you understand what UCS is and what causes it, you can learn the proper exercises and treatments to address it. This condition can be recovered from, and there are ways to avoid developing it again in the future.


Are you new to personal training? Read these articles to get started on growing your business:

About the Author:

Cory McKane

Cory is a huge fan of fitness - and an even bigger fan of helping you with your fitness. He's started on his journey with WeStrive back in 2015 and has been building it ever since.

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Written by
Cory McKane
CEO | WeStrive
Huge fan of fitness - Even bigger fan of helping you with your fitness. I've been building up the WeStrive platform for over 5 years and I'm excited to keep building out the greatest Health & Wellness platform on Earth.

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What is Upper Crossed Syndrome and how to train someone with it - 2022