Ice hockey player on the ice, outdoors

Upper and Lower Cross Syndrome In Athletes

Muscular imbalances in our athletes can lead to major injuries. Hockey is a fast pace, aggressive game that requires specific skills and physiological attributes. These postures and structural adaptations may result in subsequent injury. Being aware of the importance of injury prevention can lead to a better, healthier skater.

Posture and high force skate production require certain techniques that can cause adaptations such as upper and lower cross syndrome. Hockey players are in the athletic crouched “ready position” for long periods during their games and practices. Shifts last 30-45 seconds, 60-180 “hockey game minutes”, and sit on the bench resting in the same flexed hips, forward head and rounded shoulders posture. These postures are called Upper Crossed Syndrome and Lower Crossed Syndrome.

Upper Crossed Syndrome posture has rounded shoulders, forward head, increased rounded back (thoracic kyphosis). Lower Crossed Syndrome posture has an anterior tilted pelvis, weak gluteus, and arched low back (lumbar lordosis). The muscle imbalances that occur in this posture can cause pain, decreased muscle activation and muscle overuse. A comprehensive assessment should be utilized to develop an individualized program to help hockey players train at their maximum potential and diminish injury risk.

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