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Rounded Shoulders: why its okay, and tips to improve mobility

We say its a new age culture thing. I'm sure you've heard the terms "desk posture" and heard complaints of "nowadays on our phones all day", but is this really truly what leads to forward head and rounded shoulders? Let's dive in.

Things we might do often that involve our shoulders being forward and our arms being in front of us:

  • Working at a computer

  • Typing on a phone

  • Reading a book

  • Eating

  • Carrying groceries

  • Working with our hands

  • Crafting/hobbies

  • Body language: arms crossed, hands in pockets, etc.

Nearly every motion in daily life is done with our arms in front of us. So doesn't it seem silly to say that is a bad thing? Posture is relative. If you are someone who works a lot in one specific position your body will adapt - and that's good news! There's no such thing as "perfect posture". Now when Pilates Instructors talk about helping you improve your posture that's different than getting you perfect posture. We want to help you improve what posture you have or what posture will work well for your individual body and lifestyle.

If your rounded shoulders are causing you pain and limited mobility you may struggle with other positions, such as reaching overhead. Your Pilates Instructor can help you find a better posture for those needs. If your pecs are so tight it causes clicking, clunking, and crunching, then your Pilates Instructor can help you. This is not to say that rounded shoulders and upper back is bad, but if it's limiting your mobility or causing you pain it's definitely something Pilates can help with.

So how do we help with that? Here's some things to consider...

Active and controlled movement is a must. Let's find some mind-body connection to your shoulder complex to give you the best exercise results. Using a small weight will be helpful to find control in the eccentric phase of movement. Eccentric movements are important for increasing mobility. Some 1 or 2 pound weights or a couple of soup cans would work perfectly for this.

Here are a few exercises that could be helpful:

  1. Lie on your back. Hold a small weight in one hand and reach it up to the ceiling. Slowly allow your arm to fall out to the side while keeping your ribs and shoulder blades stable. This can also be done lying near the edge of a couch or cushion if you want to allow stretch of the pecs past what the floor would allow.

  2. Do the same movement overhead allowing the arm to rotate externally. You can add an elbow bend at the top to add a tricep stretch.

Some other Pilates exercises that can help you with shoulder mobility:

  • Scapula isolations on mat/chair

  • Arm circles

  • Midback series on reformer/cadillac

  • Arms pulling straps on reformer

  • and more!

I am trained and qualified to give you an assessment of your shoulder complex. I have the ability to check your scapulothoracic alignment, axioscapular muscle function, scapulohumeral muscle function, cervical flexion movement pattern, shoulder abduction movement pattern, and torso flexion movement pattern. Of course, I can not diagnose you with any conditions (I know some great physiotherapists I can recommend you to if your assessments identifies the need for one), but I can make suggestions and help you optimize your shoulder function. If you are seeking an assessment or professional-guided instruction through some of these exercises you can book a Pilates sessions here.

Happy shoulder opening!


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