So, what is UCS? You can observe it in people whose necks flex forward and their shoulders are rounded with the head straining back so they don’t fall on their faces; poor posture leads to UCS! Someone who works at a computer terminal, or who does a lot of driving, or who cuts hair or even attends patients as a surgeon or dentist, as each of these professions lend themselves to the flexor muscles in the front becoming overworked, especially in comparison to the extensors of the back muscles. This imbalance of muscle tension puts you at a higher risk for injury. Slouching posture must be constantly checked during one’s workday! As this poor posturing progresses, it may become increasingly more difficult to get a deep breath as shallow breathing becomes the norm and expanding the chest cavity becomes difficult, or even very uncomfortable.
In a previous article, I talked about Repetitive Strain Injuries and how if muscles stay in a contracted state for a prolonged time, the circulation to the muscles involved can be decreased and adhesions develop within, around and between other muscles, and even nerves. This is usually when I begin seeing individuals with UCS. They cannot recall any trauma or incident that brought their neck, back or upper extremity pain on, they just awakened one day with it, or just innocently sneezed or made a quick head movement.
A short list of the usually involved tight muscles includes the upper trapezius, SCM, levator scapulae and pectoralis major and minor. Muscles that become weak and inhibited (not firing or contracting optimally include in part, the deep neck flexors, middle and lower trapezius, serratus anterior and rhomboids. My job now is to find the tight and weak muscles, as well as those that are inhibited, locate the adhesions and then flush out the swelling and restore the normal function of the involved joints and muscles. Exercises and, yes, nagging you about your posture become necessary to then begin activities with a gradual pain threshold increase (everyone will have a tissue tolerance or redline, how high it is will be determined by genetics, amount of wear and tear as well as the degree to which flexibility and strengthening exercises are followed).
So, observe how you are sitting, standing and performing work/sports activities, possibly using a mirror, window reflection or by having someone look at you and capturing you on their phone camera; then call us at (770) 922-1212 if you think you have UCS! Next time I will address, what else?....Lower Cross Syndrome!
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