Janda’s “Upper Crossed Syndrome”

The shoulder is a beautiful joint. It has incredible freedom and is home to the prime moving engines of the upper body. This explains why it’s a hot zone for issues of pain with athletes. It’s a double whammy. Incredible freedom makes the shoulder vulnerable and less stable, while its prime focus for upper body work means it gets a lot of use.

SEE: Recipe for wear and tear.

We’re not movement pessimistic here, though, folks. This isn’t a doom and gloom story about a shoulder that could be fragile. In fact, our shoulders most definitely don’t have to be fragile at all!

One of the common issues with the shoulder, especially when going overhead, is that functional imbalances can wreak havoc on the joint. Studies often focused on overhead sport athletes (i.e. throwers) have ramped up our understanding of this problematic joint structure. This has led us to understanding classic shoulder issue dubbed Janda’s Upper Crossed Syndrome

As a movement coach, I can tell you that the issues characteristic of Dr. Janda’s namesake pattern are nearly ubiquitous in athletes with shoulder issues. Tight pecs entices the shoulder to roll forward making it even more vulnerable. Many athletes have over-active traps that do the work for the lower traps leaving them unaccessed and weak. 

You don’t need to be a poster boy or poster girl for the Janda Upper Crossed Syndrome to benefit from addressing these common vulnerabilities. Lower trap work like the lat pulldown (SEE: photo above) or properly prescribed ring rows/inverted rows should be your best friend. In addition to thoughtful strengthening exercises, soft tissue work to relieve tight pecs and upper traps will round off the issues outlined above.

If you want to go overhead without pain, set yourself up for abnormal success. Janda’s syndrome and issues like it are more common than it needs to be, people. 


Logan Gelbrich


6/25/19 WOD

Complete 3 rounds for quality:

10-12 HSPU

:50 Handstand Hold


Then, AMRAP 12

12 Push Presses (95/75)

12 Toes-to-Bar

12 KB Swings (70/53)


At the 12:00, take 8 minutes to find a

1RM Clean & Jerk