How to live your best #desklife
As a manual osteopath one of the most common postural issues I see in the clinic is slumped or rounded shoulders. I would say 80% of my clients have this common problem due to desk jobs and prolonged use of phones and tablets. Any activity that causes the body to look down, forward or lean over for long periods of time can contribute to slumped shoulders.
The good news is it’s fixable over time with some simple stretches and also building up the back and shoulder muscles will help the shoulders back.
To begin, let’s get into a little bit of detail on what rounded shoulders are and what causes them.
What Is Rounded Shoulders Posture?
“Rounded shoulders” is a term that is used to describe the appearance of shoulders that are positioned further forward than normal. People that have rounded shoulders typically also have a forward head position and increased slouching of the upper back (thoracic kyphosis).
It has been found that slouching forward combined with rounded shoulders increases the weight of the head on the neck by as much as 300%. In fact, for every inch your head moves forward, the relative weight of your head over the body doubles due to the effects of gravity.
This causes enormous stress on the neck and shoulders, which can lead to reduced shoulder range of motion as well as pain, numbness, and/or loss of function, typically of the upper body region.
There is usually an imbalance between the muscles that should be pulling the shoulders forward and the ones that should be pulling them backwards, to maintain a neutral posture.
Let’s look at the specific muscles involved.
a) Tight muscles:
*These muscles are pulling the shoulders into a forward position. We need to stretch/release these muscles!
– Pectoralis major and minor (Chest muscles)
– Latissimus dorsi (Low and mid back)
– Anterior deltoid (Front of shoulder)
– Upper trapezius (Neck and upper back)
– Levator scapulae (Runs from shoulder blade to neck)
b) Weak muscles:
*These muscles are not pulling the shoulder backwards into a neutral position. We need to strengthen these muscles.
– Lower and mid trapezius (mid back)
– Serratus anterior (Side of ribs)
– Rotator cuff (Shoulder area)
– Posterior deltoid (Back of shoulder)
– Rhomboids (Back muscles)
Below I have listed 5 easy exercises that you can incorporate into you weekly routine. They don’t take a lot of effort but if you are consistent with the protocol these exercises can significantly help correct rounded shoulders. I encourage you to perform these at least 2-4 days a week in order to see results.
*what you will need: resistance band, lacrosse ball, and a foam roller.
1. Trigger point release for chest muscles
This will release tight pectoralis major and minor (chest muscles) that are usually very tight in rounded shoulder posture.
How to do it:
- place a lacrosse ball or massage ball against the wall, then lean your pec into the ball using your body weight.
- first move the ball around the largest portion of your pec (pec major). Take your time while moving the ball around.
- Next move to the pec minor. Come in from the side of your pecs and at an angle which is almost as if it was underneath the pec major.
- Chances are, that if it’s tight, you’ll know you’re on the right muscle as it will be extremely tender.
- Perform on both sides.
2. Doorway Stretch
Because the abs and chest get super tight during sitting, the doorway stretch will help loosen it up.
How to do it:
– Position your elbows and hands in line with a doorframe.
– Step through the door slowly, until you feel a stretch.
– Hold this end position for 15 to 20 seconds before returning to the starting position.
– Repeat this stretch 3 times.
3. Wall Slides
This exercise strengthens the low trapezius muscles and serratus anterior AS WELL AS opens up the shoulders and chest.
How to do it:
- Stand with your back to the wall and try to keep your upper back and buttocks in contact with the wall and walk your feet out about 12 inches from the wall.
- Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, so that your hands are pointing towards your head, and try to press your forearms against the wall (this may be an uncomfortable position when you first start performing this exercise, don’t give up!).
- Slowly slide your arms up towards your head and then back down the wall by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Begin with 1 set of 10 repetitions and work your way up to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
4. Rowing with resistance band
This exercise strengthens all of the major muscles of your back, including the Mid Trapezius and the Rhomboids which will help bring the shoulders back.
How to do it:
- Begin by wrapping your resistance band around a stable piece of furniture. *if you don’t have a stable piece of furniture, you can wrap it around the bottom of your feet.
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you and your knees slightly bent-
- Hold the ends of the resistance band with your palms facing each other and extend your arms straight to get into the starting position.
- Pull the ends of the resistance band towards you as you bend your elbows and move them slightly behind your torso by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
*be sure to keep your arms close to your body and avoid leaning forwards or backwards.
- Stop pulling when your hands reach your torso.
- Hold this position briefly before returning to the starting position by straightening your arms.
- Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
5. Thoracic Spine Foam Rolling
This is great way to loosen up the upper trapezius muscle that gets really tight from hunchback position.
How to do it:
- Lie on your back, with your hands placed behind your head, and a foam roller placed under your upper-back.
- Start to slowly roll up and down beginning at your mid-back and moving towards the top of your shoulders. – Pause for 15 to 20 seconds in areas that feel tight.
- Repeat the rolling on any areas of tightness.
A good posture is crucial for your health and well-being. Take a look at yourself and be aware of your form. Make the changes to live your best #desklife!
If you have any concerns about your posture or any pain you are experiencing, click here to book an osteopathic assessment!
– Nathan Lambert, DOMP