• Lynn Peters

What Is Upper Cross Syndrome?

Although it sounds almost celestial, there is nothing divine about Upper Cross Syndrome!

It happens when we spend prolonged periods sitting (such as when we work in front of a computer). Some muscles become very tight such as the pectoral muscles in the chest and some of the muscles in the posterior neck.

If the pectoral muscles have become tightened and the rhomboid and lower trapezius muscles weakened, it results in an exaggerated curve in the upper back (thoracic kyphosis), with shoulders elevated.

The muscles above have to maintain the Frankfurt Horizontal Plane (eyes level to each other), so they contract above the kyphosis to bring the head up, be it in a somewhat forward fashion.

This stretches the muscles at the front of the neck and they become weaker. Change of posture in the upper back and neck combined result in a quite typical posture for someone who spends many hours in an office!

The suboccipital muscles in the neck connect the top of the spine to the bottom of the skull and their main function is to provide fine motor function in head movements. The occipital nerve travels through these little muscles and chronic tightness in the muscles can often lead to cerviogenic headaches. 

There is also a close neurological link between the suboccipital region and the jaw and a tightness here can lead to jaw pain. Neck pain and upper back pain are also common with this posture.

An osteopath would help with reducing tension in the tight muscles, give advice and exercises to make the weak muscles get stronger, and mobilise any restricted joints.


Oakingtons Osteopathic Clinic


1 Longstanton Road, Oakington (7.27 km)
CB24 3BB Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Opening Hours

Tel: 07967 270252