Welcome to the second part of my nine part series on correcting posture deviations.This post will focus on how to fix rounded shoulders. For those who want to review my second post on Lower-cross syndrome symptoms, you can check it here. Also, if you want to jump ahead and read about all the posture deviations and how to correct them, you can check my free Power Posture instruction manual here:
Before we start, here are some definition of terms that I will be using in this post and what part of the body they effect.
Upper trapezius muscles
What is Muscle Imbalance?
Your body has muscles (or groups of muscles) that are attached to either side of a joint and work against one another to control the movement of the joint. It’s a bit like the handlebars of your bike: you can ride with one hand, but two hands working against each other gives you much better control. (1)
Posture is important to understand because it often indicates muscle imbalance. Confused? Let’s take a look at your car.
If the wheels are out of alignment, the tires will wear unevenly making them more susceptible to an early blow out. Imbalanced muscles do the same thing to your back. Muscle pain results when one muscle or group of muscles overpower an opposing set of muscles that get stretched out of shape.That’s pretty much what happens when you do something like using the same shoulder to hold that cool looking shoulder bag.
It causes you to tilt and bend in order to compensate for the weight. That results in straining your back. People looking at you may think that you have bad posture, and indeed you may. You can reestablish both balance and good posture by changing shoulders. If you said get a backpack, congratulations! That would be the best answer. You would be distributing the weight evenly and establishing symmetry.
What Do The Trapezius Do?
This large muscle group spans the upper back, shoulders and neck. These muscles are commonly called the “trap” muscles.
The trapezius stabilizes the shoulder blades and also facilitates shoulder and neck movement.
The superior or upper segment of the muscle helps elevate the shoulder blades. The upper trapezius also helps rotate and tilt the neck.
The pectoralis major has four actions which are primarily responsible for movement of the shoulder joint. The first action is flexion of the humerus, as in throwing a ball underhand, and in lifting a child. Secondly, it adducts the humerus, as when flapping the arms.
The pectoralis minor is a thin, flat muscle found immediately underneath the pectoralis major. This is the smaller of the two pectoral muscles, or muscles of the chest.
The serratus anterior is a large muscle that wraps around the outsides of your rib cage like long-taloned claws and attaches underneath your shoulder blades at their inner rims.
The serratus anterior, among other things, helps you hold good posture
Now that you have a clear understanding of the definitions and meaning of the terms used in this post, we can begin our discussion on how to fix rounded shoulders.
DEVIATION 3: ROUNDED SHOULDERS Shoulders In Front Of Ears
“Rounded shoulders” is a term used for describing the resting position of shoulders, which has been moved forward from an ideal postural alignment.
The hunchback posture of the shoulders and back gives a bad impression not only in appearance but also affects the performance of specific activities leading to a higher probability of developing shoulder injuries and shoulder pain.
A muscle imbalance is considered to be the leading cause of rounded shoulders. If you recall our talk about muscle imbalance, then think about this: In Rounded Shoulders, there is an imbalance of tension between the muscles that pull the shoulder blades forwards and the muscles that pull the shoulder blades backwards.
“Think about it this way: There’s a tug-of-war battle between the muscles at the front and back of the shoulders (… And the muscles at the front are winning!).” (3)
The result is that you look something like this:
Before going deep into how you can combat this problem, we need to see the detailed information on its causes, risk factors, and treatment.
Causes of rounded shoulders:
On the basis of researches and several evidence-based clinical data, we can confidently say that two primary reasons cause rounded shoulders:
- Overactivity of muscles. These muscles are PULLING the shoulder blades into the forward position.
- Underactivity of muscles. These muscles ARE NOT PULLING the shoulder blades backwards into a neutral position.
Overactivity of muscles:
Sometimes, muscles become overactive and tight, which tends to pull the shoulders into a relatively forward position in comparison to normal alignment. The main responsible muscles in this category are usually upper trapezius, pectoralis major, and pectoralis minor. Along with this muscular tightness, lack of mobility in the thoracic area is another cause of rounded shoulders.
Underactivity of muscles:
Similarly, in some cases, muscles due to under-activity become weak and fail to keep or pull the shoulders into its original position. The main responsible muscles in this category are middle and lower fibers of the trapezius and another muscle, the serratus anterior.
Other than it, several activities that involve a long duration of looking down and staying in a forward position can be the culprit for rounded shoulders.
These activities tend to disrupt the normal functions of muscles present in shoulders, back, and neck area because these muscles control the posture and maintain it in the long run.
Some of the daily life activities which can contribute to the development of rounded shoulders are:
- Driving the vehicles for a long time.
- I am repeatedly bending over to perform any task.
- Staying in a sitting position for a longer time.
- Working on tablets or smartphones for a long time.
- Trying to carry heavy objects in the wrong position and posture all day long.
- Long-time use of laptops and computers in the wrong posture.
The most common risk factor of rounded shoulders is pain, which can be caused due to increased pain around the area of the upper back and neck.
The following is a very silly song, but it’s very effective for those that want to keep track of the major muscle group without spending the day in the library.
How to know if you have rounded shoulders?
Your physician, physical therapist, or any chiropractor can help you to know about your postural alignment. First of all, your doctor will look at the resting position of your shoulders while you are standing. Any person suffering from rounded shoulders will have a slight hunch even when standing straight. Their hands will tend to face their behind and thumbs pointing at each other.
A correct posture for standing will have hands towards the body, and thumbs facing ahead of the body. This simple and easy test can effectively indicate the posture of a person.
The best treatment for rounded shoulders:
Stretch the overactive muscles:
Thoracic extension – an important exercise to improve the mobility of the thoracic area and to fix rounded shoulders.
- Place a foam roller below your upper back.
- Put your hands behind your head.
- Extend your upper back and exhale at the same time over the foam roller.
- Don’t perform a compensating movement with the lower back.
- Repeat the same technique and go down on the points towards the lower back.
Strengthen the underactive or weak muscles:
Band pull-apart –
- Hold a band, and your thumbs must point up.
- Keep the arms in front of your chest.
- Pull the band apart and twist your hands at the same time.
- For engaging your middle trapezius, try to squeeze the shoulder blades as you pull the band back.
Push up –
In order to strengthen the serratus anterior, push up is the best exercise.
- Fully extend your arms.
- Push the hands into or towards the ground surface to keep your shoulders in protracted position.
- Now try to lift your back up or towards the roof.
- Now hold this position for some seconds and return to the initial position slowly.
- Repeat the technique for as much as times as you can do it without undergoing extreme fatigue.
While fixing the rounded shoulders in the long run, you should focus on a few basic things:
- Take care of your body posture the whole day long and keep it in correct alignment.
- Try to adapt the training programs, which will help you to prevent the imbalance of muscles from occurring in the first place.
- You should refer to some experienced health care provider and perform exercises which are recommended for the specific muscles and diagnosis.
- Please do not leave it untreated. Otherwise, it can lead to intense pain and restriction in activities of your daily life.
- Perform exercise, which will help you to develop lean body mass at the same time.
Disclaimer: The content within the post is to guide and inform only. If you have any health concerns, it is important to seek medical advice.
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Hey, we dealt with a lot of heavy but I hope useful stuff on how to fix rounded shoulders. Let’s conclude on a fun note with my zany friend, Kate, on her take about posture:
I like to hear from the readers so please leave me a comment below to let me know if this post helped you or if you have any questions
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