The problem of rounded shoulders is not going to go away. The fact that we spend more and more time hunched in front of our computer and mobiles, means that if anything, the problem is only going to get worse.
When you are in front of your computer screen or mobile, you may not realise but your posture is severely compromised. Typically, you push your head forward (or down for mobile devices), your shoulders round, and your upper back becomes curved. Holding onto this position for hours everyday is going to cause your body to adopt this hunched posture permanently. Not good.
Not only is it a very unattractive look, it can also cause muscle imbalances around the body and particularly the shoulders. You may find your shoulders clicking and snapping as they are unable to smooth freely in the joint socket. But for me, the worst thing is the horrible feeling of your shoulders being pulled forward into a very uncomfortable position.
I suffered from rounded shoulders and never ever attributed it to how I was sitting. I always assumed that this was my body shape and this is how it is. People come in all shape and sizes and mine happens to be with rounded shoulders. It wasn’t until I started to take my health more seriously, that I started researching on how to fix it.
These are some common symptoms and causes of rounded shoulders:
- Too much sitting in a hunched position
- Too much muscle training in the front chest area and not enough in the back
- Tight Pec muscles
- Tight Lat muscles
- Weak upper back muscles
I have come up with a set of stretches and exercises that you can do daily to fix these symptoms and the problem of rounded shoulders. This routine has worked for me.
The Daily Process to Fix Rounded Shoulders
To do this routine you will need a foam roller and an exercise band. If you are unsure what kind of band to buy, I personally use these ones from Amazon.com
Step 1: Release & Stretch the Pec Muscles
If you have rounded shoulders then there’s a good chance you have tight pec muscles. As your shoulders hunch forward, the length of the pec muscles shorten and become tight. Over time, this tightness pulls your shoulders forward and into a hunched position.
Releasing the pec muscles is a little more complicated than simply rolling them with a foam roller as the Pecs are made up of two muscles, the pec minor (pectoralis minor) and the pec major (pectoralis major). The pec major is very easy to loosen up with a foam roller or massage ball, since you can roll out the main pec area. The pec minor on the other hand, is slightly to the side and underneath the pec major. The best way to massage this area is by using your hand or a theracane.
Watch the video below to learn the best methods to release the pec muscles.
Once you have loosened both pec muscles, you will want to stretch them to create new length in them. The most common pec stretch is the doorway stretch. You can learn how to so it in the video below.
To do this stretch, place one hand up high on a doorway or support. Next pull your chest forward. You should feel a stretch across your pec. You can move your hand to different heights to feel the stretch in different areas.
Step 2: Roll Out the Lats
The lats can also be a cause of rounded shoulders, so you’ll want to roll these out too. To learn how to roll out your lats, follow the video above. This move can also be done before you stretch your pec muscles in the previous step.
Step 3: Banded Shoulder Flexion Exercise
This exercise helps to strengthen the upper traps. To do this exercise you will need a resistance band.
- Lunge one foot forward with your foot on top of the band.
- Whilst holding the bands, externally rotate your arms so your thumbs are pointing up. Depress your shoulders down and keep your chest up.
- Holding the bands, exhale and lift your arms above your head. Inhale as you lower your arms.
- You can also experiment with different arm positions.
Step 4: Shoulder Band Exercise
The next exercise requires an exercise band. To do this exercise:
- Hold the band in front of you with your thumbs pointed in. You can choose your own resistance by changing the distance between your hands.
- Pull the band apart and make sure to rotate your thumbs backwards at the peak of the stretch.
- Bring the band back in front of you slowly.
- Volume is key. Doing lots of these is better than doing a low number with high intensity.
Watch the video above for a visual of how to do this exercise.
Step 5: Low Band External Rotation Exercise
This exercise is very similar to the one above except the band is held down by your waist.
- Take an exercise band and hold it with both hands in front of your waist. Hold the band just a bit narrower than shoulder width apart.
- Twist your arms outwards and squeeze the shoulder blades together.
The Most Important Thing to Remember
Here’s the most important thing to know when fixing your rounded shoulders; it will require a lifestyle change. In other words, there’s no point doing all these exercises and stretches if you aren’t addressing the root cause. If the cause of your rounded shoulders is because you are sitting too much, then you need to change your sitting habits.
If you are sitting at a desk for long hours then try to limit the time. This is easier said than done, especially if you have a full time desk job, but could you ask your boss for a standing desk? Or if not, try to stand up at least every 20-30 minutes, grab a drink or go to the bathroom. Do whatever it takes to break the cycle of being hunched forward so your body doesn’t become accustomed to the rounded shoulder position. This includes hunching over your laptop watching Netflix after work. Could you go for a walk instead?
Rounded shoulders is also a problem that rarely happens on it’s own. In most cases, people with rounded shoulders usually also suffer from forward head posture and a rounded upper back. You will want to make sure you fix these issues as well.
Fixing your rounded shoulders may seem like something that is unimportant, but you’ll find it comes with many benefits. Not only do you look better and have less tension in the shoulders, but you’ll increase your confidence as being in a hunched position has proven to increase anxiety and depression. Think of it this way, by fixing your rounded shoulders you are simultaneously improving your day to day mood.
You may find that you want to make your own exercise routine rather than use the one above. That’s ok. Take some time and come up with a daily routine that works for you. You certainly won’t regret it.