6 Stretches to Prevent 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 people (especially men) who like to workout just their biceps and chest and neglect their back. If they don’t already have rounded shoulders from doing this, 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. Those 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.

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6 Stretches 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

    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 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 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.

    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

    BABY COBRA POSE
    Lie on your stomach with your hand directly beside your shoulders. Inhale and slowly press yourself up, keeping your elbows bent. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and then come back down.
    BRIDGE POSE
    Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath and raise your hips off the floor as high as you are comfortable going. Now draw your shoulders down and back and clasp your hands together if possible. Try to reach them as far to your feet as possible. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and lower your body gently to the floor.
    CAMEL POSE
    Kneel on the floor with your back to a chair. Keep your feet hip width apart and grasp the chair with your hands. Now push your pelvis forward and lift your chest to the sky. Breathe deeply as you keep pushing your shoulder blades back and down and keep lifting your chest as far as you can comfortably go. Hold this pose for a few breath cycles.
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