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The Corporate Syndrome - is it Affecting You?

Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN


Do you work in an office? Are you seated in front of a computer all day? Do you experience any discomforts in your low and

upper back? Do notice your posture beginning to deteriorate? Well, this article is going to address a common problem millions of people suffer from these days. I refer to it as the Corporate Syndrome.

The Corporate Syndrome

The Corporate Syndrome is defined as the set of symptoms and physical adaptations your body undergoes as a result of being in a seated position typing away at your computer for hours, days, months, and eventually years. These symptoms may include tired eyes, upper back tension, neck pain, wrist discomfort, low back pain, poor posture, and overall fatigue. Being seated in front of computer for several hours can be very draining and lead to tired looking eyes. Aside from the fatigue issue, the Corporate Syndrome is preliminary to a combination of two medical syndromes that will be described below.

Some of the physical adaptations that may occur as a result of this repetitive seated position include a rounded back (as the shoulders roll forward), tight pectoralis minor/major (chest muscles), tight hamstrings (back of thigh), tight hip flexors (front of hip), tight quadriceps (front of thigh), tight calves (back of lower leg), weak glutes, weakened and tight scalene muscles (deep neck flexors), and weakened and/or lengthened upper back muscles such as the middle and lower trapezius and rhomboids.

The overall effect of the Corporate Syndrome is general fatigue and clearly identifiable poor posture created by an imbalance of tight and weak muscles surrounding the pelvis and shoulders. These weak and tight muscles are caused by phenomenon known as creep, whereby any material will eventually deform under a constant load or stretch. In this case, your muscles are the material and the undesirable posture is the load or stretch. At their most developed stage, these characteristics of muscle weakness and tension may cause what is known as Upper Crossed Syndrome and Lower Crossed Syndrome.

Upper Crossed Syndrome

This is a medical term. It is a syndrome that produces elevation and protraction of the shoulders, winging of the scapula, and protraction of the head (chronic rounding of the upper back with the head protruded forward). This atypical posture produces overstress of the cervical cranial (neck-head) junction, the C4-5 and T4 vertebrae, and the shoulder due to altered motion of the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. Excessive stress on the T4 segment can occasionally cause chest pain known as pseudoangina pectoris. The altered angle of the shoulder joint causes rotation and abduction of the shoulder blades, ultimately leading to the wearing of the supraspinatus muscle and causing rotator cuff problems.

Lower Crossed Syndrome

Occurs when you have tight hip flexors, calves, quadriceps and hamstrings combined with weak gluteus maximus and medius, and weakend lower abdominal muscles.  This afflicts most desk jockeys. This syndrome causes excessive lumber extension (makes your butt stick out) and wears down your vertebrae, causing bulging discs, slipped discs and nerve damage.

3 Easy Steps to Preventing the Corporate Syndrome

The key is to stretch, or relax, tight muscles and strengthen weaker ones. This can be accomplished by following this easy 3-step protocol.

1. MASSAGE (using foam roller)

Areas to Massage

Using the foam roller, you can easily and effectively massage out much tension in certain muscles. For postural purposes you want to focus on massaging the:

o Lie facedown, draw in your abs, place your thighs on a foam roller and use your forearms to support yourself. Applying pressure to the foam roller with your thighs, use your arms to roll yourself up and down from the knees to the hip until you feel a sensitive area. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, or until 50 percent to 75 percent of the pain subsides. Relax each sensitive area you find.

IT band
o Begin on your side with the foam roller at your hip bone. Balancing on your forearm keep your body weight on the side of your leg. Keep the foot of the opposite leg planted on the floor and use as leverage to push you along the foam. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, or until 50 percent to 75 percent of the pain subsides. Relax each sensitive area you find.

Pectoralis group
o Lie on your stomach and place a foam roller diagonal to the right side of your chest. Applying pressure with your weight, use your arms to roll your upper body on the roller from your shoulder to the bottom of your chest until you feel a sensitive area. Hold for 20 to 60 seconds, or until 50 percent to 75 percent of the pain subsides. Do this for two sensitive areas, then switch sides.

Areas to Stretch

The focus of your stretching should be on the:

• Chest muscles (pec minor/major)
• Scalenes (front of neck)
• Hip flexors/quadriceps
• Hamstrings

Areas to Strengthen

The areas in need of strengthening include the:

Muscles of the upper back
o Middle and lower trapezius
o Rhomboids
o Latissimus dorsi

Muscles of posterior shoulder
o Teres minor and infraspinatus
o Teres major

Muscles of the core
o Internal/external obliques
o Transverse abdominis
o Quadratus lumborum

Need help guiding you through this process?  Have a look at Fitter U™.  A complete personal training system for your MP3 player that will help improve your posture, core strength, and get you to your ideal body! 

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