One of the more common posture complaints we see at the clinic is having rounded shoulders. It’s a complaint that both men and women suffer from, and can be brought on by mistakes made while training at the gym, from weak back muscles, or from repeatedly bad posture while slouching at your desk or at home. So, how do you correct rounded shoulders? A big mistake we hear people making while trying to fix this type of problem at home, is using the wrong kind of stretches in an attempt to open up the shoulders, when in most cases it’s a chronic weakness in muscles of the back that are letting the shoulders round in the first place.
Rounded shoulders are often accompanied by a forward head carriage (where the head is positioned more forward and is likely placing pressure on the vertebra and discs in the neck), and a thoracic kyphosis (where the mid-back rounds forwards to compensate for how the shoulders are also pulled forward). This type of posture causes the muscles in the chest to shorten and tighten, while the muscles in the back become overly stretched and weak. Often we can think that changing the way we exercise can make a difference in our posture, but some exercises can make it worse so it’s important to know what can cause it and how to fix it.
How Can You Treat Rounded Shoulders?
Simple exercises and stretches that can improve and support the muscles in your back and shoulder blades include chest rows and reverse fly’s. Chest rows work the back, shoulders and it can improve your posture and is a good supportive exercise to accompany a bench press if you like to work out your chest. For this exercise you’ll need a weight bench, on an incline, so that you can lean your chest and stomach into the bench. Choose your weight in dumbbells and hold one in each hand, relaxed to the sides with your palms facing. To perform one repetition, pull the elbows directly back as if you’re making a right angle, and then return to the beginning.
Reverse fly exercises are very similar, and can be used to train your chest but they will do more for your upper back muscles so can work well in training to help bad posture. For this exercise, you’ll need the weight bench set up in an identical way, at an incline, so that you can lean into it with your chest and stomach. Again, choose your weight in dumbbells and hold one in each hand with your palms facing. Extend your arms out directly to the side in a controlled motion, before bringing them back to the centre with your palms facing again. These exercises squeeze the shoulder blades together, instead of working the chest and shoulders as much.
We see a lot of patients with this type of problem, especially where their shoulders are nice and strong but between the shoulder blades is not. This is a classic case of where it is so beneficial to workout your whole body equally, rather than focusing on muscles that are typically glamourised. Focusing on strengthening your back muscles will likely give you much more success in avoiding rounded shoulders, or correcting them if it’s something you’re aware you have.
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