pain free

Upper Crossed Syndrome

Many patients that I see come in with neck and mid-back pain from working on the computer or sitting at a desk all day. They have tightness in their neck, feel generally uncomfortable, and have pain throughout the day. The reason for this? Upper Crossed Syndrome.

Upper Crossed Syndrome.jpg

Upper Crossed Syndrome is a postural condition that refers to overlapping overactive and underactive muscle groups. This image demonstrates tight pectoral and neck/mid-back musculature (suboccipitals, upper trapezius, levator scapulae) and weak cervical neck flexors, rhomboids, and lower trapezius muscles. This combination of tight and weak musculature increases the stress on the neck and the cervical discs.

Forward head carriage.jpg

As you can see, even slight forward head carriage can significantly increase the weight of your head on the cervical discs. Don’t let this happen to you!

Your chiropractor can help by alleviating muscle tightness and re-aligning vertebrae that may be out of place. At the office, I can give you stretches and exercises that you can do at home/work to re-train those muscles and correct your posture. Stretching tight musculature and strengthening weak muscles will help you maintain a healthier posture so that you don’t get stuck in a slump.

Upper crossed syndrome is something that affects many people today. Remember, you don’t have to live in pain. Pain is your body’s way of telling you there is something wrong. If you are having tightness in your neck or mid back, or if you’re feeling like you’re constantly rubbing your shoulders or trying to stretch your neck throughout the day because everything feels so tight- call me today. I do my best to accommodate same day appointments and can help you start living pain free!

How long does it take to feel better?

This is a question that every patient asks. How many treatments do I need? When will I start to feel better? How often do I need to come? Truth is- I don’t know! Every body responds differently to care. On average, I’d say that patients involved in a serious injury (motor vehicle accident, accident at work, sports injury) can take up to two or three months to fully recover. Injuring soft tissue structures (ligaments and muscles) can be extremely painful, and make take some time to heal. It’s important to stick with your treatment plan and be patient.


A good analogy I like to use with my patients is going to the gym/dieting. Something we can all relate to in one way or another, right? Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds. If you go to the gym once… you certainly won’t reach your goal. Or, if you only change your breakfast from an Egg McMuffin to plain yogurt with fresh fruit… you won’t reach your goal. If you start to incorporate going to the gym regularly and make dietary changes, chances are- you will reach your goal eventually! How soon? We don’t know! It depends on how your body responds to the new foods you are eating and the added on physical activity. Some people may drop 10 pounds in the blink of an eye. Some people may work hard at it for months. Chiropractic care can be similar.

The patients I see with the best responses come regularly- whether they are feeling pain or not. Regularly, for some, means once a month, every other week, every week… it depends on how you feel. I’ve had a patient before that insisted on coming 3x a week because she loved the way she felt. She experienced normal muscle tightness, and was consistent with her gym routine. No significant injuries- just absolutely loved coming in for hydrobed, combo, and an adjustment. I also have patients that come every month- just for maintenance care. Patients that come routinely often suffer from less injuries because they are staying on top of their wellness.

Patients who suffered from minor injury (strained their back gardening over the weekend, woke up with a stiff neck) are recommended to come 2 -3x the first week and slowly taper off. It’s best to tackle the injury immediately and start to decrease inflammation and swelling. I promise to work with you and together, we can determine the right treatment plan.

I know that we have busy lives full of work, kids, meetings, household chores, errands to run…. but your health needs to be your number one priority. Imagine if that tightness in your neck or pain in your low back was gone…! For some, it seems impossible, right? Decreased pain or increased range of motion would certainly make preparing dinner, picking the kids up from school, and sitting through that weekly meeting a lot easier. MAKE TIME FOR YOUR SPINE. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF!!! Chiropractic care is great preventative medicine. By keeping your nervous and musculoskeletal system functioning at it’s fullest potential, it’s like you are always running on a full tank of gas, 8 hours of sleep, and a constant IV of water and nutrients. Seriously.

I’d love to be a part of your wellness goals or help you recover after an injury. Call us today. Same day appointments- we want to get you out of pain!!

-Dr. ZK

Our First Post!!

Hello! This is my very first blog post. (Today is also Chiropractic’s 123rd birthday- so it’s an appropriate day to start blogging!) Be sure to check our blog for different tips and tricks to help you stay healthy! I’ll post recipes, stretches, research, and more that focus on chiropractic and wellness. Leave comments to let me know what you’re looking to see, or if you have a question.

For my first post, I’m going to provide a little introduction to the office and myself, so you can get to know who I am, and what I’m all about! Ready?

My name is Dr. Tara Zempel Kern. I relocated to Maryland from Rochester, NY about a year ago. Maryland has been fun so far! Rochester is cold and snowy… it was definitely time for a change. My passion is chiropractic. I love everything about it. I love treating patients and seeing them get better. I love helping athletes achieve their fitness goals. I love hearing my high school athletes tell me that they won their game or received a sports scholarship to college. There is nothing that makes me smile more than making my patients healthier and happier. I believe in treating the body as a whole and customizing care to each patient. Everyone’s body is different and responds differently to the techniques used. I am constantly expanding my knowledge and technique- if there is something you’re not comfortable with- tell me! I can use another method to treat you so we can still achieve your goals.

In my spare time, I’ve been busy exploring the DMV area. I’ve hiked Sugar Loaf and part of the Shenendoah Valley. I’ve found a Buffalo Bills bar in DC so I can root for my home team. I’ve been trying to meet as many people as possible. This city is full of life- I love meeting people from all different professions and cultural backgrounds. It has been so much fun for me.

If you are considering chiropractic care, please call and come by. I’d love to discuss what I do and how chiropractic can be helpful for you. If you like what we have done, the best thing you can do is tell your family and friends!

I look forward to providing excellent care to you, and the rest of my community.

(I was recently married and changed my last name- but for years, all of my patients referred to me as Dr. Z. Now… I’ve updated it to be Dr. ZK. It will take some time to get used to!)

-Dr. ZK