Upper Cross Syndrome is a collection of tight and weak muscles that cause the forward head posture and “slumped” look. This leads to migraine headaches, neck and shoulder pain, breathlessness and tingling into the arms. Lower Cross Syndrome refers to a collection of weak muscles in your pelvis and lower back that can lead to sciatic pain, hip pain, and pelvic dysfunction.
Some people refer to procrastinating as “Student Syndrome”, while only some people are procrastinators, and I’d venture to say that they tend to procrastinate whether they are students or not. I use Student Syndrome to refer to the bio-mechanical and physiological changes that occur from studying for hours on end which every student has to do whether they want to or not.
Sitting for hours every day in school, reading over a textbook, and working on papers at the computer – all contribute to detrimental postural compensations that negatively affect your child’s growth, development, breathing, and even immune function. Two different, yet related syndromes make up the majority of postural defects that affect students; Upper Cross Syndrome and Lower Cross Syndrome.
What Is Upper Cross Syndrome?
Upper Cross Syndrome refers to a collection of hyper-tonic (chronically tight) muscles and inhibited (weak) muscles that cause the forward head posture with rounded shoulders and “slumped” look we see all too often these days.
Prolonged studying and computer work leads to the tightening of the SCM muscle, occipital muscles (cause headaches), scalenes, upper trapezius, and pectoralis muscles. There is also weakening of the deep neck flexors, serratus anterior, and rhomboids.
The combined postural changes caused by this change in muscle tone can often lead to experiencing both tension headaches and migraine headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, numbness and tingling into the arms, mid back pain, and difficulty in breathing.
The chronically shallow breathing that can occur can then lead to a trend towards respiratory infections. The decrease of efficient off-gassing of carbon dioxide can cause an acidifying of the PH balance of the body leading to other infections and excessive bacterial growth.
What Is Lower Cross Syndrome?
Lower Cross Syndrome refers to a collection of tight and weak muscles in your pelvis and lower back. Tightening of the Psoas muscles and Erector Spinae muscles of the lower back and weakening of your abdominals and glutes are all caused by prolonged sitting.
Sitting is one of the worst “activities” for our bodies and particularly our lower backs. Together these imbalances lead to Anterior Pelvic Tilting and a predilection for low back pain, sciatic pain, hip pain, and pelvic dysfunction.
Obviously you can’t take your child out of school, or teach them algebra from a standing desk or a treadmill, unless you take a page from corporate America that has recognized the detrimental effect of seated desk work on the human body.
What you can do is become educated and in turn educate the student in your life about taking breaks, stretching and strengthening, and restoring balance back to their body.