How to fix rounded shoulders

Rounded shoulders is a term many will be familiar with. Aesthetically, we understand that it’s rarely an ideal expression of good shoulder function and anatomy.

Does it lead to pain? Perhaps.

Does it lead to reduced shoulder function and capacity? Most likely.

If you have rounded shoulders it’s important to understand that you can most likely do better. By taking the time to understand why your shoulders are rounding and how to re-position them, you might just unlock the door to better function, reduced pain, and better aesthetics.

But how do you do that? What caused it in the first place? How do you make a permanent change in your body’s default shoulder position?

Well, we’ll answer these questions and more in this article! So strap in, pull those shoulders back and let’s get into it!

What Does the Term Rounded Shoulders Mean

When we mention rounded shoulders, we are specifically talking about the position of your arm and shoulder blade relative to your upper back.

Anatomically, our tissue is designed to be orientated a certain way.

This anatomical position (below) allows optimal loading and tissue function to take place.

How to fix rounded shoulders

As you can see, the optimal position for our shoulders has the shoulder blades back and flat across our upper back. The shoulder and arm sit directly in line with our neck.

If we then compare this to what a traditional rounded shoulder position looks like below, you can see a stark difference between the two shapes.

How to fix rounded shoulders

Traditionally, the upper back becomes rounded, the shoulder blade begins to shift to the outside and often lifts off at the inside. This leaves those arms forward of where they should be.

Now if the anatomical position allows optimal expression and function of all tissue, then what does a rounded shoulder position do?

Well, we can never guarantee it will cause pain (despite it being very common) but it will certainly rob you of your ability to use your shoulders fully.

Quick Test For The Impact of Rounded Shoulders

To see what effect rounded shoulders will have on your shoulder function try this:

Sit down, slouch, and let your shoulders roll forward. Now, raise your arms above your head as far as you can. Take note of how far they go and how it feels.

Next, sit up tall and gently pull your shoulders back. Now try and lift your arms up again.

What do you notice?

Ideally, you should feel an immediate difference in both how far you go and how “smooth” it feels.

This test highlights how poor upper back and shoulder positions can rob you of basic shoulder function. Again, it’s hard to predict pain, but the decrease in function is easy to see.

What Causes Rounded Shoulders

If your Shoulders are rounded, there’s generally one thing you need to pay attention to – your postural habits.

There are some genetic predispositions to rounded shoulders but ultimately the blame rests with how you allow your shoulders to sit throughout the day.

Traditionally, the shape we see cultivate rounded shoulders the most is, without surprise – sitting and slouching.

Essentially, rounded shoulders are often a consequence of letting your shoulders round. Enlightening stuff, right?

The weight of gravity constantly acting on our neck, upper back, and shoulders encourage those areas to drop and roll forward. Over time, the tissue of the neck, upper back, and shoulders reacts by stiffening and tightening meaning that shape becomes more prevalent.

Your body prioritizes the things it’s exposed to the most, so if we unknowingly keep asking our shoulders to round, it will make this easier to do on your behalf. Our tissues adapt and our brain begins to shift towards a new “normal”.

With this in mind, any attempts to reverse rounded shoulders MUST be supported by the intent to maintain better postures.

Undoing any effects of rounded shoulders will only be as successful as a person’s commitment to practicing better shoulder shapes where possible. Otherwise, we’ll just be going around in circles potentially getting frustrated and feeling defeated over time. It’s just so important.

Exercises to Fix Rounded Shoulders

The following exercises help address common issues associated with rounded shoulders. They focus on mobility, strength, and of course, good posture.

1. Mobilize Upper Back Stiffness
We often overlook upper back stiffness when discussing anything shoulder-related. And it’s no different here.

A stiff and rounded upper back can make it virtually impossible to regain an ideal shoulder position if left unattended. Think of it as a rusty block to those shoulders and shoulder blades coming back.

So clearing a path for the shoulder to sit back is important to make the whole experience more comfortable.

Try the exercise in the video below to mobilize that upper back stiffness.

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.

There are a few simple exercises that can help keep the shoulders in their correct position and relieve the stress caused by slumping.

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.

Daily tasks that may contribute to rounded shoulders include:

using a smartphone or tablet

using a computer or laptop

sitting for long periods

driving a vehicle

bending over repeatedly

carrying heavy objects all 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 for 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 the posture as soon as possible.


Chiropractors and physical therapists may lead a person through a few tests to see if they have rounded shoulders.

The doctor may first look at the person’s resting position while they are standing. A person with slumped shoulders may seem to slouch, even when asked to stand up straight. Their hands are also likely to face behind them, with the thumbs pointed at each other.

A correct standing posture will see the hands facing towards the body with the thumbs facing ahead. This is a simple test, but it will give doctors a good indication of a person’s everyday posture.

Doctors may use a variety of other tests to help them diagnose rounded shoulders and poor posture, in order to recommend the best treatments.

It is always advisable to work directly with a knowledgeable practitioner to treat rounded shoulders.

Stretches and Exercises for Round Shoulders


The handclasp stretch is simple and can be done every day. Standing up straight with the hands by their sides, a person reaches their hands behind them to clasp them together.

Gently, they then pull the shoulders back, while taking care not to allow the neck to push forward.

The shoulders should be pulled back until the chest opens and a deep stretch is felt. The position should be held for 30 seconds.

Door chest stretches

Just as the shoulders were stretched, the chest needs to be stretched to keep a person’s posture strong. One simple way to do this involves the use of a doorframe.

Standing straight in front of a doorframe, a person should place one hand on either side of the frame, just above head height.

Moving one foot forward and gently lunging past the frame will stretch the chest and shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

Shoulder blade squeeze

This basic exercise reminds the body what good posture feels like, and helps build strength throughout the day.

Sitting up tall, a person should move both shoulder blades together, as if trying to hold a tennis ball between them. As they flex, the shoulders should move down and away from the ears.

This position should be held for 10 seconds, and repeated 10 times.

The T stretch

The T stretch is best done in the morning, just after waking, or in the night, just before sleeping.

The person lies flat on their back with their feet flat on the floor. Their knees will be bent and facing up.

The arms should be extended out to the sides of the body, palms facing up. When done correctly, there will be a slight stretch in the back and shoulders.

This position can be held for up to 10 minutes each day for the best results.

Wall stretch

The wall stretch is one of the most important exercises for rounded shoulders.

A person begins by standing with their tailbone, lower back, upper back, and head against a wall. The feet are positioned slightly away from the wall. The arms are pressed flat against the wall, keeping the elbows at a 90 degree angle.

This position is held for 30 seconds to a minute to provide a gentle stretch and workout for the shoulders and upper back.

If you have poor posture, it can have a number of negative health implications. If you have rounded shoulders, over time this may lead to what is known as ‘upper crossed syndrome’.

This is where the muscles in the deep of your neck and your upper-to-mid back become weaker. As a result, the other muscles in your back, neck and chest become tighter, causing your shoulders to pull forward.

How to Fix Rounded Shoulders

If you are worried about your posture and how your back looks, there are some simple changes you can make to reduce and prevent your shoulders from becoming rounded and slouched.

First, it is hugely important that you are self-aware of your posture. If you notice yourself slouching, make sure you sort out your posture straight away.

One way to do this is using the 20-20-20 method. This is where you set an alarm for every 20 minutes.

Every time the alarm goes off, you should look away from your computer and focus on something that is more than 20 metres away, and then do a stretch to reset your shoulders before you get back to work.

There are also a wide variety of exercises that you can do that will help with your rounded shoulders.

Here are some of the best stretches and movements you can do to improve your posture:

Reverse Shoulder Stretch: Stand up straight and reach both of your arms behind you, clasping your hands together. You should immediately be able to feel a pull as your muscles start to be stretched.

Take a deep breath and then move your arms to as high as they can go. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.

Bird Dog Movement: this move is the perfect way to strengthen your entire posterior from your neck muscles to your core. Start on your hands and knees, making sure that your body forms a straight line from the bottom of your spine to the top of your head.

Next, lift your right arm and left leg at the same time, extending them as far as your can. Repeat this with your left arm and right leg. Do this 15 to 20 times for the best results.

Get Professional Help

If you are concerned about your posture and want some expert advice, a physiotherapist can help.

Our trained team at Proactive Physiotherapy in Cairns are professionals and can help you improve your posture with specialist exercises that will have you standing taller in no time.

If you would like to fix your posture today, call 07 4053 6222, our team is available to answer your questions.

“Forward head posture” goes by a lot of names, most of them unflattering.

“Nerd neck.” “Wearsie neck.” “Text neck.” “Scholar’s neck.” (Okay, that last one wasn’t so bad.)

Still, no one wants the side effects that come with this common postural deformity, which afflicts between 66% and 90% of the population.

It’s defined as a posture where your neck slants anteriorly (forward), positioning the head an inch or more in front of the atlas (first neck vertebra).

This doesn’t look good. It also shifts your center of gravity forward, disproportionate to the weight of the head. By a malign trick of geometry, every inch your eight-pound head protrudes in front increases the load on your neck and shoulders by ten pounds!

How to fix rounded shoulders

How to Tell if you Have Forward Head Posture

Stand with your back to the wall, shoulder blades and heels touching the wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Try to achieve a neutral back position. It can help to squeeze your shoulder blades together and then release them a few times.

Is the back of your skull also touching the wall? If not, you have some degree of “nerd neck.”

What Causes Forward Head Posture?

Many bad habits of contemporary living can cause “nerd neck.”

The key culprit is long periods of time looking down.

Forward head posture can be caused by:

  • Too much time looking at your cell phone.
  • Too much time at the computer.
  • Too much time driving.
  • Carrying a heavy backpack.
  • Sleeping with your head too elevated—for example, too many pillows, or with your head propped against the armrest of a sofa.

Other causal factors include:

  • Past neck injuries.
  • Weak neck muscles.
  • Improper breathing.
  • Practicing sports that favor one side of your body (baseball, golf, hockey, tennis, etc.)
  • Professions involving repetitive movements (computer programmer, massage therapist, hairstylist, painter, writer, etc.)

Side Effects of Forward Head Posture

“Nerd neck” results in tight upper back muscles and weak front-of-neck muscles. This kind of imbalance leads to all sorts of unpleasant neural, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular side effects.

The muscles, joints, and nerves in the neck and back fall under undue pressure, resulting in upper back pain, shoulder pain, and neck pain. The rounding of the shoulders also places an extra burden on the lower back, increasing the risk of herniated discs.

These effects culminate in “tension neck syndrome,” which causes pain often indistinguishable from a tension headache. Think you suffer from “tension headaches?” The culprit may actually be your “nerd neck” posture.

Your changed center of balance also makes you more susceptible to falls and the ensuing injuries.

Other short-term side effects of forward head posture include:

  • Kyphosis (Excessive rounded shoulders)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Restricted breathing
  • Temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) pain
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea
  • Numbness and tingling of the arms and hands

Long-term side effects of “nerd neck” include:

  • Reduced shoulder mobility
  • Osteoporosis (and related fractures)
  • Cervical spine arthritis
  • Bulging Discs

How to Fix Nerd Neck

Over time, forward head posture can be corrected through four lifestyle changes:

1. Use One Firm Pillow

Choose a sleeping pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck. If your pillow is either too high or too low, it could cause your head to lie in an overtaxed position … all night long, every night. The resulting muscle imbalance can be hard to correct.

Instead, choose one firm pillow that supports your head with your neck at neutral position.

2. Make your Work Station Ergonomic

While many of us sit at desks looking at computers all day, most of us can make some simple, posture-friendly adjustments.

Choose a chair-desk combo that promotes good posture by allowing you to sit with your feet firmly planted on the ground, elbows at a 90-degree angle when you rest your arms on the desk.

Position your computer screen 18-24 inches from your head (about an arm’s length), with the top of the monitor at eye level so you don’t constantly look down to see your screen content.

3. Adjust your Backpack

Choose a backpack proportional to your body. If you aren’t a huge person, don’t choose a huge backpack.

Take some time to remove unneeded items so you aren’t carrying unnecessary weight. Try to position any necessary heavy items near the center of your back to reduce excess strain on the shoulders. Also, avoid carrying your backpack with one strap to avoid excessive stress on one side of your neck.

4. Start a “Nerd Neck” Exercise Routine

The right exercises can improve your posture and correct forward head posture overtime. Perform several of the following exercises 2-3 times a day, 3-4 sets of each exercise:

  • Tilt your head forward gently, touch your chin to your chest, hold for five seconds, then release.
  • Rotate your head to the left until you feel a mild stretch. Hold for five seconds, then repeat to the right.
  • Push your head forward until you feel the stretch through your throat. Hold for five seconds, then release.
  • Gently tilt your head to the side, attempting to touch your ear to your shoulder, until you feel a mild stretch. Hold for five seconds, release, then repeat on the other side.
  • Pinch and massage the muscles between your ears and your collarbone for about a minute.
  • Seated or standing with feet shoulder-width apart, squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for five seconds, then release. Try for 10-15 reps.

Can Chiropractors Help Treat Nerd Neck?

When it comes to spine alignment or posture problems chiropractic services can be incredibly effective. By continuously adjusting specific joints in the spine and neck chiropractors can help to restore posture and normal motion.

Combining our tips for fixing nerd neck with routine chiropractic sessions will greatly benefit your journey to better health and well-being.

Posture and Fitness (Part 1): Kyphosis (Rounded Shoulders)

by Darius Felix , on Jun 9, 2016 3:34:34 PM

One thing I have really begun to pay special attention to within my exercise program lately is correcting my postural deficiencies. About a month ago as I was staring in the mirror (in awe of my handsome looks) waiting to begin my next set of shoulder presses, I noticed that both of my shoulders were comfortably rounded forward as I stood straight up. I made a conscious effort to pull them back in line with my ear, knee, and ankle (correct posture); however, this was very uncomfortable for me to maintain for a short period of time.

How to fix rounded shoulders

It then dawned on me that if it was uncomfortable for me to maintain good posture for a few seconds, imagine the effect these deficiencies will eventually have on my muscularity, the efficiency of my resistance training in regard to compensation for the targeted muscles, as well as the greater postural deficiencies that naturally occur as we get into our later years.

Many people find themselves hunched over a keyboard or office desk for many hours throughout the day. This can have a huge effect on your posture over time. Hunchback, or rounded shoulders, occurs because we often do not have the muscular endurance in our upper back and shoulder muscles to resist and fight against gravity. When we allow our shoulders to round forward (known as kyphosis ), our anterior muscles (pectoralis major and minor) become tight due to always being in a shortened state while our posterior shoulder muscles (trapezius, rhomboids, and rotator cuff muscles) become lengthened and weak.

The best way to find out if you might have this problem is to have someone take a photo of you from the side in your natural, relaxed, standing position. If your ears, shoulder, knees, and ankles are not aligned with each other, you could have a moderate to severe case of kyphosis. No worries, however, as this is very common now, especially with the prevalent use of computers in the workplace and at home. Here are some quick solutions you can implement into your warmup to help your alignment.

Solution One: Maintain Correct Positioning When Sitting at the Computer

Maintain correct positioning (shoulder blades back, chest open wide) when sitting at a computer desk. This may seem obvious, but if it was as obvious as it seems, we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place. The more time you spend in this position, the quicker your body will adapt to being in proper alignment.

Also try to avoid excessive use of laptops. Laptops naturally put your body in a rounded-shoulder positioning because of how low the computer screen is when placed in the lap. Instead, try stacking the laptop on top of a box or a stack of books so that the upper edge of the monitor is just below eye level. This will help you maintain a natural, “unrounded,” or upright shoulder position because you no longer have to be hunched over looking down at the computer monitor.

Solution Two: Foam Rolling

Foam roll the thoracic spine to improve thoracic extension range of motion. Myofascial release ( foam rolling ) will help you regain full extension in your thoracic spine that might have been lost due to weak upper-back muscles and constant downward pull on the anterior pectoral and shoulder muscles.

Solution Three: Static Stretching

Statically stretch the pectoralis major and minor muscles to free up any tightness in the chest. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat two to three times before your resistance or cardio training workout. This will help eliminate some pulling of the anterior shoulder muscles, which will make it easier for you to maintain proper postural alignment. Here’s a video of some static chest stretches you can try.

Solution Four: Upper Posterior Chain Muscle Exercises

Increase muscular strength and endurance of the posterior shoulder muscles by performing various upper posterior chain muscle exercises. By strengthening these muscles, maintaining proper alignment of the shoulders will become much more natural and manageable for an individual over long periods of time. When our posterior shoulder muscles lack strength, they have little chance of winning the fight against gravity when hunched over a computer keyboard.

One example of an exercise you can implement is the floor cobra . This will help with thoracic extension (as stated above) as well as retraction of the shoulder blades and opening of the chest muscles.

Remember, it took a great deal of time for your body to eventually adapt to the poor postural alignment, so you can expect the same with the correction process. Even though these tips will help you regain postural alignment, you cannot expect to see a great deal of change overnight. These tips have to be implemented into your daily life in order to see long-term changes.

Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will be covering another common postural problem: Anterior pelvic tilt .

This blog was written by Darius Felix, Health Fitness Instructor. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here .

How to fix rounded shoulders

Rounded shoulders are especially common with office or computer-based workers. Without near-perfect posture, sitting for long periods soon leads to hunching of the shoulders and bending forward of the lower back. Fortunately, your rounded shoulders can be treated, reversed and even cured, with the help of a mat and the door frame at home! Watch the short video by Reece Tomlinson for three super effective stretching exercises.

What Are the Common Causes of Rounded Shoulders?

  • Prolonged poor posture while seated
  • Emotional factors or stress responses tightening chest muscles
  • Faulty movement patterns that place stress on the muscles and tissues

What Are the Risks?

This resultant posture has a negative impact on both appearance and health. In your subconscious mind, the posture of rounded shoulders negatively affect how you see yourself and so it will gradually shape your confidence and attractiveness.

Also, the increased stress on your shoulder joints can lead to severe pain and discomfort around the neck and upper back. If left untreated, it could even lead to impingements that require immediate medical treatment.

FAQs About The Stretch Exercises

How Should I Perform These Exercises?
Between 8-15 repetitions and 2-3 sets for all three. Allow at least 2 minutes rest between each set.

How Often Should This Be Performed?
Try to complete this routine 3 times per week.

When Can I Expect to Notice Improvement?
With consistency, you will see noticeable improvement within 1 month.

What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid?
Stretching yourself too hard too fast. Stay within your boundaries and increase over time.

Key: Focus on creating a healthy stretch with each exercise without pushing yourself too far.

When I used to work in insurance I would sit at my desk for as long I possibly could before getting up to move. Like, I was SO LAZY you guys. I would hold my pee for probably an hour, before forcing myself to get up and go.

I’m gonna blame it on the chair, but I think just the nature of sitting behind a desk really just sucked the ENERGY outta me. I would however, go on lunch time strolls.

Or the Eaton Centre.

Good for my bod, not good for my wallet.

Sitting at a desk all day really messes up your posture.

Having your arms leaning forward on a desk, your shoulders rounding, your lower back in a constant flexed position. Unless you’re incredibly aware of your posture 24/7, it’s sooo easy to get into an ugly desk slump.

There are so many people who sit at a desk for 8 hours a day (maybe you’re one of them!) and your body is paying for it. I’m going to show you 6 different exercises or moves to FIX rounded shoulders. We’re going to start loosening up your chest, strengthening your back, and mobilizing your thoracic (or mid) spine.

6 Moves to Fix Rounded Shoulders

1. Foam Roller Extensions

This is by far one of my favorite new stretches/movements I love to do. I have a very IMMOBILE thoracic spine (which I blame on just being so dang muscular…), so i’m working on creating more mobility within it.

How to fix rounded shouldersYour t-spine is shown in blue in this image

A stiff thoracic spine can reduce range of motion and cause injuries around your shoulders, as well start to curve your spine. This can eventually lead to rounding of your shoulders and a forward positioning of your head.

1. Find a foam roller and lay it perpendicular to your spine. Flatten your low back by contracting your abdominal muscles, and bringing your belly button towards your spine.
2. Place your hands gently behind your ears, and lean back slightly (moving ONLY from that mid-spine). Repeat 5-6 times, and then move the roller slightly up the spine and repeat.
3. It’s important that you don’t arch your lower back – think about keeping it flat and your core nice and tight. Avoid letting your rib care flare as you extend backwards.

2. Cat Cow Stretch

I’m sure you’ve done this plenty of times if you’ve ever taken a yoga class, but did you know how useful it is for increasing thoracic mobility?

This is a great exercise to increasing both flexion and extension in your spine and I get the students in my classes to do it all the time.

1. Start in a tabletop position, knees directly below your hips, hands directly below your shoulders. From here, start to roll your spine up towards the ceiling, getting a good stretch in between your shoulder blades. Contract your core as you perform this movement.

2. Slowly start to bring your spine back to neutral, following it through all the way as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Really focus on movement through the thoracic spine, instead of letting your lower back/lumbar spine curve too much.

3. Focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and not shrugging up to your ears. Repeat for 10 reps.

3. Pec Release w Lacrosse Ball

If you’ve never done this before, let me tell you right now – IT’S GONNA HURT. My advice? …Just get over it??

In my 30 Day workout program , I show you several releases that you can do with a lacrosse ball, including this one. I love it.

Sitting at a desk all day forces your pec muscles (chest muscles) to sit in a shortened position and get superrr tight. Not good. This will cause your shoulders to round forward in that hunched position, and again, reduce range of motion and cause injury down the line.

1. Find a tennis ball (softer to start) or a lacrosse ball (if you’ve done this before) and placing it on a wall. Tuck your arm behind your back, to open up your chest as much as possible.
2. With light pressure, roll the ball around your pecs finding the spots that feel especially tight.
3. I like to roll around just between just below my collarbone and about 2 inches down from that. I usually will roll for about 1 minute on each side, or however long you feel you need.

4. Shoulder Pass Through with Band

This is a favorite of mine when i’m warming up to do any sort of upper body or back workout. It increases range of motion throughout your shoulder joint while opening up your chest. You can perform this exercise with a band, or any sort of light stick (like a broomstick or dowel).

Again, this stretches those tight and shortened pec muscles while increasing your shoulder mobility. If you have very limited ROM in your shoulders, you may find this difficult to do at first. Start by placing your hands as wide as you can on the resistance band, and then slowly moving inwards after you’ve increased flexibility

1. Grab any light resistance band or broomstick. Place your hands equal distance apart and hold them straight out in front of you.
2. Keeping your shoulders down and traps relaxed, bring your arms up and over your head, and around your back. Make sure to keep your arms straight as you perform this movement. If you need to, watch yourself in the mirror to ensure you’re not compensating for tightness on one side by leaning or shrugging your shoulders.

5. Underhand Resistance Band Pull Aparts

Now we’re focussing on strengthening the muscles that keep our posture nice and upright! You’ll also find this exercise throughout my 30 Days to Fit program . Resistance band pull aparts are a great way to develop strength in your rear delts – a muscle that gets weakened and underused from sitting at a desk – and your rotator cuff muscles.

By performing these underhanded, you’re able to hit those muscles super effectively and start to develop strength in your upper back. This will allow you to sit with a straighter spine and reduce the rounding of your shoulders.

1. Grab a resistance band and hold it with an underhand grip straight in front of you. Keeping your arms straight and your shoulders relaxed, pull the band apart, squeezing between the shoulder blades. You will be looking for a contraction at the back of your shoulders, in the rear delt.
2. Hold for a second at the end, and then slowly release counting to 3 in your head. Repeat for 8-12 reps for 2-3 sets.

6. Resistance Band Y Raises

Another muscle that tends to get weak and underused from sitting at a desk, are your mid and lower traps. We often notice and train our upper traps, but neglect to train the entire muscle.

One of the exercises that I love to do to target my mid and lower traps is the resistance band Y raise. Similar to the pass-through with the band, you will have to ensure that your shoulders are down, and your scapula is pulled down and back. Essentially you want to ensure that the movement is coming from your midback, vs using your upper traps to pull the band above your head.

1. Stand with one foot on the band, with your hands gripping the band facing down. I like to space my hands about hip width apart. From there, keeping your arms straight and shoulders down, lift your arms up in a V shape until they reach the top of your head.
2. In a slow and controlled manner, bring them back down to starting position.
3. You may have to use an even lighter resistance band if you have never done these before. Go for 6-10 reps for 2-3 sets.

Go to

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Forward Head Posture Other: Exercise Not Applicable

Forward head posture and Rounded Shoulder are related to muscle imbalance, which disturbs length tension relationship of muscles. Weak and lengthened muscles in Forward head posture and rounded shoulders are deep neck flexors which include longus capitis and longus coli and weak scapular stabilizers and retractors which include Rhomboids and middle, lower trapezius, Teres Minor and Infraspinatus. The overactive and shortened muscles participating in Forward head posture and Rounded shoulders are Deep upper cervical extensors which include longissimus capitis, Splenius Capitis, Cervical Multifidus, Upper Trapezius and Shoulder protractors and elevators which include Pectoralis minor, Pectoralis major and Levator Scapula. Previous researches suggests that weakened postural muscles should be strengthened and shortened muscles should be lengthened in order to improve postural alignment and alleviate Forward head posture and restoring the normal muscle balance between opposing muscle groups (agonists and antagonists). The majority of treatments have focused on the deep neck flexors, as they play a major role in stabilizing the alignment of the cervical spine. Exercise improved the forward head and Rounded Shoulder significantly.

The selection of 50º as a reference angle for forward head posture was guided by previous studies, with the latter reporting 55.02 ± 2.86 as a normal range. As is well known, subjects with forward head posture have a significantly smaller cervical angle when compared with normal subjects. In the present study, the investigators considered 52º as the reference angle based on a previous study which evaluated 310 participants in a standing position and reported 2.6º±15.3 as a normal range, and Brink et al, who evaluated 15 to 17 year-olds and reported a mean shoulder angle value of 51.35º ± 17.2º, and based on the premise that subjects with protracted shoulder have a significantly smaller shoulder angle when compared with normal subjects. Individual will be considered to have rounded shoulder if the angle will be less than 52º.

Go to

Layout table for study information

Study Type : Interventional (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 30 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single (Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Effect of Strengthening and Stretching Exercise of Deep Neck Muscles Group to Improve Forward Head Posture and Rounded Shoulders in Normal Healthy Adults
Actual Study Start Date : September 1, 2019
Actual Primary Completion Date : February 20, 2020
Actual Study Completion Date : March 1, 2020

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine How to fix rounded shoulders

How to fix rounded shoulders

Are your desk-bound employees wearing the weight of the world on their rounded shoulders?

Learn how to reverse computer posture with corrective work breaks.

Baseball players are known for developing pain in their rotator cuff. Tennis players in their elbow. And Desk Jockeys… in their neck, back AND shoulders. When we sit for long periods of time in poor posture, we develop what’s known as computer posture. AKA Tech Neck, Rounded Shoulders, Forward Head Deviation… And it’s taking a toll on our bodies. Forward head posture not only leads to chronic pain, it can cause numbness in the arms and hands, improper breathing, pinched nerves, fatigue, and headaches.

[Are you sitting tall yet? Chest lifted, shoulders back and down, belly in?]

It’s no wonder that 74% of office workers experience pain from sitting at their desk and 10% claim to be in pain for most of the day. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) defines prolonged sitting as an occupational hazard of sedentary occupations. It makes sense, then, that low back pain caused by a sedentary lifestyle both at home and at work now tops disability concerns, according to The Global Burden of Disease.

[Here’s What Happens When You Slouch]

Our heads weigh a lot—as much as a bowling ball (about 10 pounds). When we sit in proper alignment, our bowling ball heads are stacked correctly with our ears over our shoulders, requiring no extra work for the rest of our bodies. But–when our heads jut forward (called Forward Head Deviation) towards our computer screens, our shoulders round and the muscles, bones and nerves in our neck and shoulders are taxed. In fact, for every inch our head leans forward, our backs feel an additional 10 pounds. So, that 10-pound head leaning 4 inches forward, now feels more like a 40 pound head. Over time, certain muscles become long and weak, while others shorten and become tight.

[How To Correct the Slouch]

Computer posture is preventable and there are simple strategies to infuse throughout your work day to reverse the slouch.

  1. Ergonomics: Here are the basics.
  • Eyes: The top of the monitor should be at your eye level.
  • Elbows and Knees: both should be at 90 degrees
  • Wrists should be straight OR below the elbow.
  • Feet should be flat on the floor.
  1. Walking breaks.Our bodies were meant to move. Get up and walk around and as you do start to realign your body, standing tall with chest lifted, shoulders down.
  1. Corrective Work Breaks.When we are seated for the majority of the day, it’s not just our backside that weakens; all of our muscles become weak. So, when we try to stand, walk or move, our weakened muscles struggle to pull our bodies into alignment. Breaks that stretch tight postural muscles while strengthening weak postural muscles are a smart choice for desk-bound employees. Recommended by Corrective Exercise Specialists, these exercises can be done every day.

Tennis Ball Massage Neck (base of skull to top of shoulder)

Press a tennis ball into a wall with your neck and move the ball in small circles working from your hair line to the top of your back. If this becomes too awkward, simply press the ball into your neck using your hands. When you a feel tight spot, stop and press the ball deeper holding for 10-30 seconds.

Tennis Ball Massage Upper Back

Press a tennis ball into a wall or the back of a chair (or, if possible, lay on the ground and press it into the floor). Work the ball from the top of your back to just below the shoulder blade, avoiding any compression on the spine. When you feel a tight spot, stop and press the ball holding for 10-30 seconds.

[Tennis ball tip: place 2 tennis balls into a long sock. It’s easier to manipulate placement of the balls and covers more territory!]

Step Backs

Stand tall and step your right leg back and swing your right arm up in line with your ear. Squeeze your right gluteal and push your hips forward. Pause and return to standing. Do 3-5 repetitions each side.

“Why” Stretch

Stand and take your arms out to your side and slightly behind you. Rotate your palms upward. Squeeze the shoulder muscles in the middle of your back to help pull your shoulder blades and arms back. Do not shrug. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Do 2-3 repetitions.

NIOSH. Using Total Worker Health concepts to reduce the health risks from sedentary work. Workplace Solutions (2017)

Price, J. Excessive thoracic kyphosis: more than just bad posture. IdeaFIT(2015).

Sanchez, N. Low back pain caused by sedentary lifestyle tops disability concerns. Liberty Voice (2014).