Got rounded shoulders?
After years of hunching over a desk, chances are that your shoulders have snuck around your ribcage, leaving you with perpetually slouchy and rounded shoulders.
A simple check to see where your shoulders hang is to look at where your hands land on your thighs when in standing. If they are more towards the front of your thighs then it’s very likely that the rest of your shoulder has slouched forward as well.
Our body and tissues are incredibly smart and adaptive – if you are not using something, be it range of motion or strength, the body will no longer exert the energy to maintain it.
Does the phrase “Use it or lose it” sound familiar?
We all know this to be true when it comes to strength – practice push ups or pull ups daily, and you will gradually increase your ability to do them with ease. Take a break for a few months and you will lose all the progress you made.
The same goes for the elasticity and flexibility of our tissues. If you are not moving in a certain way, you don’t need to expend the energy to maintain it.
Soft tissues like fascia start to tighten up, brain communication with the muscles changes, and your body moves on to maintain the things that you are using on a regular basis.
Our eyes are on the front of our head, which means everything that we do will be in front of our body.
But the issue isn’t so much that the shoulders come in front of your body from time to time, it’s that they spend A LOT of time there and we don’t balance out strength and awareness for the back of the body.
So if you’re looking for a way to unslouch your shoulders, improve your posture, and increase shoulder range of motion, let me introduce you to my current favorite, The 5 Way Shoulder Warm Up.
I have been using this exercise in all of my classes as a way to “open the chest” – which in this case means we are dynamically stretching the soft tissues on the front of the chest and shoulders. This will help the shoulders to shift back to the side of the body where they belong.
All you need is a soft inflated ball under your shoulders (get your own here) and then do a series of movements that will help address tension of the tissues in the front of the shoulders (pec minor, pec major, and biceps, to name a few).
Once I brought this simple exercise into my own routine, my shoulder range of motion increased and has held steady, even when I spend hours a day on my phone and laptop.
If you’re bored with (or completely avoiding) the chest and pec stretches you’ve been assigned, give this one a try. It’s way more fun and you’ll feel the change quickly if you keep in regular rotation.
So tell me, were you able to breathe a sigh of relief once your shoulders were resting where they should be?
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