The term rounded shoulders is used to describe a resting shoulder position that has moved forward from the body’s ideal alignment. Rounded shoulders, sometimes known as “mom posture,” are part of overall bad posture, and they can get worse if left untreated.
Rounded shoulders are one of the most common postural problems, they not only make us look bad when standing up but, over time, they also put our bodies at risk. Your posture is the result of the postural habits you have acquired from the early stages of life. These habits influence movement, and movement, in turn, affects posture. So, what can we do to break this vicious circle?
Before we dive into the solution, let’s break down the muscles.
The “rotator cuff” is a term used to describe 4 muscles that primarily help stabilize the glenohumeral joint, aka the shoulder. To help stabilize the joint, the rotator cuff pulls the scapula (the shoulder blade) and the humerus (the arm bone) into each other and keeps them in place.
The shoulder joint is the junction between the chest and the upper extremity. Two joints are at the shoulder. The glenohumeral joint is the ball-and-socket junction of the top of the arm bone, and the socket of the shoulder blade.
The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that surround the glenohumeral joint. A muscle contract to move bones; the tendons are the attachment of the muscle to the bone. The rotator cuff muscles are important in movements of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint.
Supraspinatus: Ends at the top of the humerus and is susceptible to impingement.
Infraspinatus: Located below the spine of the scapula and is responsible for external rotation and stabilization of the shoulder joint.
Teres minor: Located right next to the infraspinatus; it helps to externally rotate your shoulder when your arm is abducted to the side.
Subscapularis: The only rotator cuff muscle that performs an internal rotation of the shoulder. It’s found on the inside of the shoulder blade.
While most people think of the rotator cuff when they think of muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, these are just 4 of the 17 muscles that cross the shoulder joint. Some of these other muscles are also critical to normal shoulder function.
One of the muscle groups that is commonly implicated in people who have shoulder joint problems are the periscapular muscles. These muscles help to control the movements of the shoulder blade (the scapula), and this movement is critical to normal shoulder function.
The socket of the shoulder joint is part of the scapula, and if the scapular movement is not normal, then shoulder function cannot be normal. Many people with shoulder pain, weakness, and instability often need to focus on improvements in their scapular function to help improve their shoulder mechanics.
Causes and risk factors
Posture is an example of how a person’s habits can affect their physical body. Conditions such as text neck and rounded shoulders are some of the most common ways poor posture begins.
Any activity that causes the body to look down and forward for long periods of time can contribute to slumped shoulders.
These positions disrupt how the muscles in the neck, back, and shoulders normally function. It is these muscles that control the way the body maintains its posture throughout the day.
The risks of rounded shoulders include the negative impact they can have on health and appearance.
By inadvertently training the body to be hunched forward over time, the muscles interpret this slumped position as the body’s natural state. This can be very harmful to the body if left untreated.
Increased stress on the shoulder joints can cause pain around the neck and upper back.
It is best to correct rounded shoulders by adjusting your posture as soon as possible and that starts with a posturologist.
Posturologists are different than most trained health care practitioners in that they assess the way the brain is projecting on the muscular system. If proprioception is optimal when all muscles are under equal tension, then the real question is: why would the nervous system purposely create abnormal posture when it is an energy-saving system?
As you can see on the picture on the left, the shoulder is protracted forward. After working on proprioception in conjunction with corrective exercises, you can now see that on the picture right that the shoulders are now shifted back. By acting on your nervous system we were able to re-wire his brain to process incoming data in a new way. The end results are the activation of the posterior chain. Here is a list of some of the exercises we performed.
Note that heavyweights are not necessary for these exercises. You’d be surprised how challenging these exercises can be with weights that are lighter than you would think you need.
#1 -Bent-Over Dumbbell Flys (or bent over rear deltoid raises)
Here’s how to do it:
-Lower your body at the hips with a slight bend to the knee, keeping your back parallel to the floor.
-With your arms holding the dumbells near your shins, and still in a bent-over position, raise your arms straight out so your arms are parallel to the floor.
-Imagine your back as a hinge and use a full range of motion to try to pinch your back together.
#2- Barbell Shrugs
-Stand tall and holding a barbell with both hands, palms facing towards your legs.
-Raise the barbell up by lifting your shoulders, keeping the distance of the barbell to your body the same (the bar should be almost resting against your legs). Remember to lift with your shoulders and not with your arms.
-Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
#3Barbell Upright Row
Here’s how to do it:
-This exercise is done just like the barbell shrugs described earlier, with a slight twist.
-Use the same grip to hold the barbell behind your back, palms facing backward.
-If you have access to a Smith Machine, that may be the best way to approach this exercise for safety and convenience.
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Effects of thoracic posture correction exercises on scapular position.
J Phys Ther Sci. 2018 Mar; 30(3):411-412. Epub 2018 Mar 2.
Effect of thorax correction exercises on flexed posture and chest function in older women with age-related hyperkyphosis.
Jang HJ, Kim MJ, Kim SY.
J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Apr; 27(4):1161-4. Epub 2015 Apr 30.
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