BPL13: Upper and Lower Cross Syndrome Explained with James Tang

by | Sep 10, 2018 | Podcast

Book Giveaway

Say ‘No’ to back pain

with the new book by James Tang


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BPL13: Upper and Lower Cross Syndrome Explained with James Tang

by | Sep 10, 2018 | Podcast


Upper and lower cross syndrome – the two basic postural dysfunctions according to James Tang, my guest this time.

James is the founder of health addiction personal training and author of A Practical Guide to the Self-Management of Lower Back Pain, which is out now on Amazon.

As a dentist, James spent his working days leaning over his patients – and was plagued by recurring back pain.

A defining moment came when he threw his back out lowering some luggage. This everyday task put him flat out in agony and unable to get of bed the following morning.

James applied himself to finding out what causes this kind of back problem; and developing a way to effectively deal with it. He is now a personal trainer specialising in a holistic approach to health & fitness.

Excerpts from the show

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Today’s Guest

Founder of Health Addiction personal training and author of A Practical Guide to the Self-Management of Lower Back Pain, James Tang

Live Pain-free Eliminate Chronic Pain without Drugs or Surgery

If you click on either link and make a purchase I will receive a commission at no cost to you

For other sites, just copy:

A Practical Guide to the Self-Management of Lower Back Pain: A Holistic Approach to Health and Fitness

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Upper and Lower Cross Syndrome

James explains both upper and lower cross syndrome. (Also known as upper/lower crossed syndromes.)

  • There are two basic postural dysfunctions; the upper crossed syndrome and the lower crossed syndrome


Taking lower crossed syndrome for an example:

  • We all have a natural lumbar curve, but if that becomes excessive….it tilts the pelvis forward (hyperlordosis)
  • If you have hyperlordosis, you need to stretch your hip flexors and your lower back as well as activate the gluteal and abdominal muscles
  • The best glute-activation exercise is the glute-bridge
  • When you’re doing the glute bridge, imagine that you are cracking a peanut in between your buttocks
  • Kneel on the floor with one foot in front then lunge forward – you’ll be able to feel the stretch on your hip flexors
  • Once you have activated your glutes with the glute bridge, then you can do some glute strengthening exercises such as deadlifts and squats

More on upper and lower cross syndrome.


Recurring Back Pain

  • We are talking about managing recurrence; so you don’t get back pain every time you bend down to pick something up
  • My back was so vulnerable
  • No-one was able to tell me the cause of the problem or offer me any rectification strategy
  • I was perplexed with the complexity of information – and the contradiction
  • The problem is that you don’t know which information is good and which information is useless
  • I took the problem into my own hands
  • I did some research
  • I wrote the book to share my experience with others who are in the same situation as me

Back Pain in the Morning

  • There are many causes of back pain
  • Usually, the characteristic of musculoskeletal back pain is that it is very painful in the morning. During the day, as you move around, the pain gets better
  • With systemic illnesses, such as tumour or osteoarthritis, the pain is there constantly
  • Most cases of back pain are a musculoskeletal condition caused by poor posture

Trigger Point Pressure Release Technique

  • If you press on trigger points, they will be painful; that indicates that there is a trigger point there
  • If you press…for 10 seconds and the pain doesn’t go away, that is not a trigger point
  • Latent trigger points can be re-activated very easily – all of a sudden it can cause a lot of pain
  • The muscle is telling you ‘Stop using me like that!’
  • I don’t think that doctors know too much about trigger points. The only thing they suggest is to take painkillers or have a rest
  • Trigger points keep the muscle contracted and make the muscle weak
  • There are trigger points everywhere, but not every trigger point refers pain

Book Giveaway

Click below for a chance to get one of 3 free copies of A Practical Guide to the Self-Management of Lower Back Pain valued at $17.23

Back Pain Posture Correction

James talks about working on postural dysfunction, particularly upper and lower cross syndrome


  • People tend to concentrate on their work rather than concentrate on their posture; often in front of a computer
  • I worked as a dentist for 20-odd years; with poor posture
  • Adopting a correct posture all the time is very important
  • You need to erdicate you poor postural habits
  • Once you know what good posture is, then you can try to rectify the problem consciously
  • To correct the postural dysfunction feels awkward but you need to do it
  • The next posture is always the best posture
  • You have to change your posture from time to time….changing the posture from time to time will release tension

Tight Hip Flexors and Back Pain

  • When the muscle is tight, it is weakened. When the muscle on the other side is stretched, it is also weakened. Both muscles are weakened
  • Because  we are sitting all the time, our hip flexors are being tightened. That will inhibit the gluteus maximus at the back
  • Tight hip flexors pull the pelvis down. It’s a very common problem for people who sit for prolonged periods
  • If the hip flexors are tight, the lower back is tight as well

Musculoskeletal Back Pain

  • A lot of people, they don’t have a back problem – yet!
  • Back pain starting between the ages of 20 and 55 is usually musculoskeletal pain
  • Musculoskeletal problems are usually caused by muscle imbalances or core dysfunction (upper and lower cross syndrome)

Back Muscle Spasm Symptoms

  • Although the pain is very severe, there is light at the end of the tunnel
  • If you know what to do, the pain can be eradicated
  • I got a severe episode of back pain about 15 years ago when I lowered a piece of luggage
  • I wasn’t sure what actually caused it
  • The pain was so severe that I couldn’t get out of bed the following morning
  • Bending down to pick something up from the floor or open a cupboard could trigger a severe episode of back pain

A Practical Guide to the Self-Management of Lower Back Pain: A Holistic Approach to Health and Fitness


Find out more on upper and lower cross syndrome in James’ new book.


  • My theme is a holistic approach to health and fitness
  • There’s nothing more important than health
  • Unless you are aware of the cause of the problem, you won’t be able to eradicate the problem
  • Inhibitory phase – inhibiting overactive muscles. Muscles are over-active because they are tightened throught the formation of trigger points
  • Lengthening phase – Improvement of flexibility through stretching

Book Giveaway

Thanks for Listening!

Do you have issues with recurring back pain?  What helped you to live pain-free? To share your experience:

  • Leave a comment below.
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Thanks to James for joining me this time and explaining upper and lower cross syndrome as well as all the other good stuff he shared with us.




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