Postural Strain Treatment

What is postural strain?

Postural Strain is a condition that is caused by prolonged periods of poor posture (e.g. sitting at a computer, using a phone, sitting on the couch, driving), or repeated movements that are completed with poor postural mechanics (e.g. working in a factory, desk jobs, car mechanics, etc).

Over time, poor posture leads to damage of different structures in the head, neck, shoulder, chest and upper back regions. Postural Strain can also be called "Upper Crossed Syndrome". Upper Crossed Syndrome is defined by a typical set of characteristics including:

  • Overactive and strained neck muscles (specifically upper fibers trapezius and levator scapulae)
  • Tightness and shortening of the chest muscles (pectoralis major and pectoralis minor)
  • Underused and weakened anterior neck muscles (cervical flexors)
  • Underused and weakened back muscles (rhomboids and lower trapezius muscles)

The condition gets its name by the "X" that forms when connecting the overactive and tight muscles, and the underactive/weak muscles.

Symptoms of Postural Strain or Upper Crossed Syndrome

  • Stiffness/tightness in the neck, back and shoulders
  • Lower back pain
  • Hunched appearance
  • Reduced range of motion in the neck
  • Headaches
  • Poor mechanical respiration
  • Loss of vertical height
  • Fatigue
  • Digestive issues

What Causes Postural Strain?

A variety of movements can cause postural strain or upper crossed syndrome, however; most cases develop due to prolonged poor posture. Common activities that promote poor posture include:

  • Computer, laptop and phone use
  • Driving
  • Watching TV
  • Abnormal postures at work; mechanics, working in a factory
  • Reading
  • Biking


Maintaining a healthy active lifestyle, avoiding poor posture when able, and regularly stretching commonly tight muscles will help prevent upper crossed syndrome from starting.

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How Can Physiotherapy Help?

A Physiotherapist will complete an assessment to determine which muscles in your body are either tight and overactive or weak and underused. Physiotherapy treatment will help assist with pain, improve muscle flexibility and strength where applicable.

Your Physiotherapist will help get you back to your regular activities as quickly and efficiently as possible, while giving you information on how to prevent this injury from occurring again! Our physiotherapists are happy to work with your family physician or other health care professionals to deliver an integrated approach to your rehabilitation.

Why Pillars of Wellness?

At Pillars of Wellness, in Burlington, Ontario, we are proud to provide a truly integrated care approach that employs a variety of treatments to achieve a faster recovery. Our clinic offers various services such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, counselling, occupational therapy, yoga therapy, acupuncture, and holistic nutrition.

With multiple services and specialties in one place, you’ll get the best care possible — without having to look elsewhere. Pillars of Wellness is your one-stop-health solution, located right here in Burlington.

Last but not least, physiotherapy is typically covered under most extended health insurance plans. If you do not have coverage, or have exceeded your coverage limits, you can consult with our Chiropractor. All of our Chiropractor's and Physiotherapist's have skills and techniques to treat and manage postural strain and associated symptoms.