Exercises to Combat Poor Posture and Rounded Shoulders

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Tuesday Training: Exercises to Combat Poor Posture and Rounded Shoulders

I can’t help but notice that a lot of young people these days have hunched/rounded shoulders and very poor posture. Take a look around you and you’ll see it, too. Look in the mirror – you may even be one of them.

I find it alarming that such young people are already getting rounded shoulders. But I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised because these days most people spend the majority of the day sitting and doing things with their arms in front of them like typing, texting, driving, playing video games, etc.

But we aren’t designed to do this – humans were made to move! When most people sit at a desk or look at their computer or phone, they drop their chin, tilt their head forward and round their shoulders. Caught you, didn’t I?!

Other people generally at risk to develop rounded shoulders are men who like to workout just their biceps and chest and neglect their back. If they don’t already have rounded shoulders, they are likely to get them due to muscle imbalances (another reason to work your entire body – not just the areas you want to look good). Older folks tend to get rounded shoulders from lack of flexibility, years and years of poor posture and it not being corrected. People who drive a lot get used to sitting in a position where they slump forward. Women who hold children or cook all day also are at a greater risk. Anyone sitting at a desk for a large part of the day have a much greater tendency to get the dreaded shoulder hunch. Runners and cyclists also round their shoulders due to the nature of the sport.

When you spend the majority of your time with your arms in front of you, it becomes habit for your body to round the shoulders. As a result, the muscles in the upper back and neck strain, overstretch and overwork. The chest muscles shorten, the small muscles between the shoulder blades weaken and the back muscles stretch and lengthen. Smaller muscles that are not designed to be postural muscles have to work doing a job they were not designed to do.

And all this poor posture can have a tremendous impact on our health. Poor posture causes all sorts of muscle and ligament imbalances which can lead to chronic back, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, fatigue, difficulty breathing and other more devastating health problems. If you are having pain, it’s important to see a physical therapist and/or a chiropractor who can help your muscle imbalances and align your spine properly.

When your body is aligned it means that your heels, knees, pelvis, and neck are directly stacked on top of each. Your body will not only be able to move so much more efficiently, but you will be able to carry heavier loads, tire less easily, have better digestion and will be less susceptible to injury.

The good news is that the earlier we catch our rounded shoulders and bad posture and take steps to correct it, the greater and faster the results. And if you’ve had bad posture and rounded shoulders for awhile, be patient. With gentle yoga poses and stretches like the ones below, you will start to see excellent posture results over time. You will also notice increased shoulder flexibility and less chance of shoulder injuries.

These stretches, yoga poses and exercises are very important to work into your regular training program for improved posture and to combat rounded shoulders. If you sit at a desk or have your arms out in front of you for a large portion of the day (driving, texting, typing, etc.), it’s extra important that you do these as often as you can.

6 stretches and yoga poses for better posture and to prevent rounded shoulders:

The first 3 can be done sitting on a chair, standing, kneeling, or sitting on the floor. These are great stretches for someone with a desk or office job and can be done (and highly recommended) anytime throughout the day.

  1. Back Bound Hand Pose

  2. Shoulder Squeeze

  3. Cow face Pose

    These 3 yoga poses are excellent for expanding and stretching the chest, strengthening and reducing tightness of the shoulders, releasing tension in the back, all which will give you excellent results for rounded shoulders and better posture.

    1. Baby Cobra Pose

    2. Bridge Pose

    3. Camel Pose

BACK BOUND HAND POSESqueeze you shoulder blades down and together and you bring both arms and hands behind you. Grab the right elbow with the left hand and them grab the left elbow with your right hand. If this is too hard, grab the wrist or the forearm. the opposite hand. Take a few deep breaths. Lift your chest and keep your shoulder blades down and back. Now repeat by grabbing your left elbow with your first hand first this time.

BACK BOUND HAND POSE
Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and bring both arms and hands behind you. Grab the right elbow with the left hand and then grab the left elbow with your right hand. If this is too hard, grab your wrist or forearm with the opposite hand. Take a few deep breaths. Lift your chest and keep your shoulder blades down and back. Now repeat by grabbing your left elbow with your right hand this time.

SHOULDER SQUEEZE STRETCHBring your shoulder blades down and back and clasp your hands behind you. Slowly lift your arms as far as you are comfortable as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. I like to pretend there is an orange in between my shoulders and I am trying to squeeze the juice out of it by my shoulders. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles as you are doing this stretch.

SHOULDER SQUEEZE STRETCH
Bring your shoulder blades down and back and clasp your hands behind you. Slowly lift your arms as far as you are comfortable as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. I like to pretend there is an orange in between my shoulders and I am trying to squeeze the juice out of it by my shoulders. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles as you are doing this stretch.

COW FACE POSEPlace the back of your left hand on your lower back and slide it up as far as it will comfortably go. Now stretch your right arm up and bend your elbow reaching behind you to grab your left hand. This is difficult, so if you can't do it, do not worry. Just go as far as you comfortably can and over time you will get better and better. Remember to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders down and back. Hold for a few breath cycles (30 seconds or so) and then repeat sides.

COW FACE POSE
Place the back of your left hand on your lower back and slide it up as far as it will comfortably go. Now stretch your right arm up and bend your elbow reaching behind you to grab your left hand. This is difficult, so if you can’t do it, do not worry. Just go as far as you comfortably can and over time you will get better and better. Remember to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders down and back. Hold for a few breath cycles (30 seconds or so) and then repeat sides.

to see the rest of the exercises check here: http://www.primallyinspired.com/tuesday-training-exercises-to-combat-poor-posture-and-rounded-shoulders/

4 thoughts on “Exercises to Combat Poor Posture and Rounded Shoulders

  1. Jeff,
    I LOVE your articles — both in content and form!! Well done. I organize a longevity community both on and offline, and one of the five elements is movement; another is relaxation. I would like you to be one of the experts I refer people to for their body mechanics. Please feel free to post your personal and professional profile at http://TheBluePrintForLife.com, and offer your articles and photos in the discussion areas in our online social network for holistic health enthusiasts and professionals.
    Cheerful greetings!
    T. Bergenn
    Longevity Advisor

    • Thanks very much for the compliment. I look forward to checking out your website! I’m on the way back from a two week duck hunting trip in Canada so give me until Wednesday to get back to you.

  2. […] Step 1 – Lay down on your back with your chin and spine in a neutral position and your hands down at your sides. Step 2 – Squeeze your bum and belly and at belly button level interlock your thumbs with your knuckles lined up – mimicking the position of your hands on the kettlebell. Step 3 – Have a partner place their hand between your back and floor. (If you train alone, you can also stage your camera on the floor beside you and videotape this drill.) It’s likely (desirable, in fact) that there will be some space between your lower back and the floor. The more impressive your glute development (think Olympic-caliber sprinter), the larger that gap between back and floor will be. Step 4 – Slowly begin to raise your hands from hip level to chest and eventually overhead until your knuckles touch the ground. Your partner will be there to determine if you change positions at any point. If the pressure on their hand decreases as you raise your arms (i.e., the space between your back and the floor increases) they will stop you. That is the height to which you should swing the kettlebell until you improve your thoracic mobility and/or midline stability. This is a PASS at the standard Russian swing height. This is a PASS at the hybrid swing height. This is a FAIL at the American swing height. The Hybrid Swing (Russican?) I hope and assume that you all are able to pass chest level without losing a neutral spine position. But I am also guessing that not all of you got to the overhead position before you started to hinge and compensate with your spine. That point between Russian and American just before you start to lose your stable midline and neutral spine position is your unique version of the hybrid swing. In our group sessions at Invictus, we will often suggest that most of our athletes swing the kettlebell to eyebrow height. This hybrid swing allows us to provide a common standard that can be met by the vast majority of our athletes. If the coach can see the athlete’s eyes under the bell, they’ve met the standard. It’s a compromise position that we have taken in group coaching, but for athletes training for competition, I want to see them swinging the kettlebell as high as they can without sacrificing good movement, a neutral spine and stable midline. The Quick and Dirty Conclusion You all might have a slightly different swing height for TRAINING. I am ok with that. If you’re training for health and fitness, determine which swing better fits your training goals for the given day, with the understanding that whichever method you choose must be performed with perfect mechanics. For more from CrossFit Invictus: http://www.crossfitinvictus.com/blog/?offset=282 If you want to go overhead you should also read: Progressions for Building Your Overhead Lifts Hip and Shoulder Mobility – How to Open Up Your Joints Exercises to Combat Poor Posture and Rounded Shoulders […]

  3. Very good information with pictures of illustration.