Do You Have Rounded Shoulders?

Hunched, Slouched or having Rounded Shoulders are all signs of poor shoulder position that can absolutely cause headaches, neck pain, mid back pain and even low back problems.

Over the last few weeks I've shared a few articles that detail my 6 Minute Morning Movement Routine. This entire routine has 12 movements designed to mobilize every major joint in my body.

The 5th movement deals with shoulder protraction and retraction and is the minimum amount of movement required to prevent rounder shoulders.

Rounded shoulders are part of a bigger problem, bad posture.

Your posture is a direct reflection of the shape and position you spend most of your time in.

Think about how you position yourself when you:

  • Sit down in front of the computer
  • Use a smart phone
  • Drive your car

I bet you have Rounded shoulders in most (…if not all) of these positions!

These hunched postures disrupt the normal balance of muscular activity that is responsible for maintaining your ideal shoulder position.

Here's a simple way to determine if you have rounded shoulders:

Palm Position Test

  • Stand up in a normal posture (or what feels normal to you).
  • Let your arms relax by your side and pay attention to what your hands are doing
  • Which way are your palms facing?

If your palms are facing backwards, then your shoulders are excessively rounding forward.

Muscles to Focus On With Rounded Shoulders

When it comes to rounded shoulders, there is an imbalance of tension between the muscles that pull your shoulders forward and the muscles that pull the shoulders backward.

Tight Muscles

These are the muscles that are usually responsible for PULLING the shoulders into the forward position.

(This means we need to Stretch/Release these muscles!)

  • Pec major/minor
  • Subclavius
  • Subscapularis
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Teres major
  • Upper trapezius
  • Serratus anterior (… this muscle can be tight AND weak!)

Weak Muscles

The following muscles ARE NOT pulling the shoulder backwards into a neutral position.

(We need to strengthen these muscles!)

  • Mid/lower trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Posterior deltoid
  • Rotator cuff

Fixing Rounded Shoulders

First, appreciate the fact that changing your posture takes time. So commit to these exercises or movements for a frequency of 2-3x's/week.

Release Your Tight Muscles

Pectoral (Chest) Release

  • Release tight chest muscles
  • Place the massage ball directly under these muscles.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of body weight onto the ball.
    • If it’s tight…. it’s going to be tender!
  • Perform a gentle circular motion over these areas.
  • Do NOT hold your breath.
    • Ease off the pressure if you are tensing up.
  • Make sure you cover the entire muscle.

Latissimus Dorsi and Serratus Anterior Release

  • Place the foam roller directly under these muscles.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of body weight .
    • If it’s tight…. it’s going to be tender!
  • Roll your body in an up/down motion
  • Do NOT hold your breath.
    • Ease off the pressure if you are tensing up.
  • Make sure you cover the entire muscle.

Perform Basic Stretches

Door Chest Stretch

  • Place both hands on the door frame.
  • Lunge forward.
  • Pull your shoulders back and down.
  • Do not arch your lower back.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the front part of your shoulder/chest region.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Latissimus Dorsi and Serratus Anterior Stretch

  • Assume the position above.
  • Whilst holding onto the door frame, let your upper arm take the weight of your body.
    • “Let your body hang”
  • Whilst anchoring your legs as shown, aim to bend your mid section as much as possible.
    • Use your body weight to sink into the stretch
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your torso.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on other side.

Strengthen Weak Muscles

If you have completed all of the above exercises, your shoulders should be feeling much more flexible.

(… but we're not done yet)

Having more mobility and flexibility in your shoulder simply allows the potential to have them in a better position.

Now we need to strengthen the muscles to keep your shoulders in the correct posture.

Scapula Retraction/Depression

  • Maintain wide and long shoulders.
  • Keep your shoulder blades in:
    • Retraction +
      • (“Pull shoulder blades together”)
    • Depression +
      • (“Pull shoulder blades down.”)

Wall Angels

  • Stand with your back to a wall.
  • Keep your back and arms pulled backwards as to remain in contact with the wall at all times.
  • Place your arms in the ‘W’ starting position.
  • Transition to the arms over head position.
  • Remember to perform Scapula retraction/Depression/Posterior tiltthroughout all movements.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Eccentric Wall Push Up

  • Assume a push up position against a wall.
  • Lean your weight into your hands.
  • Keep your shoulders pulled back and down throughout the exercise.
  • Slowly lower your chest down towards the wall as you bend your elbows.
  • Do not let your elbows flare outwards.
  • Aim to go as deep as possible so that you feel a deep stretch in the chest muscles.
  • Restart and repeat 10 times.
  • Progression:
    • Perform on the floor

Final Thoughts

If you have rounded shoulders or hunched posture, then perform these exercises regularly to start correcting your posture.

Health is not something that you can just arrive at. It takes time, repetition and consistency, so stick with it!