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.
Contents of this article:
- Causes and risk factors for rounded shoulders
- Stretches and exercises
- Preventing rounded shoulders
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.
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 though 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 to fix or prevent rounded shoulders
Carrying out stretches and gentle exercises regularly can help to improve posture. The plank can help to ease round shoulders back into a correct alignment.
The good news is that, in most cases, rounded shoulders can be easily fixed or prevented.
Just as the muscles and joints have been trained to hunch forward, they can be retrained to find the correct resting position.
A simple exercise routine can be followed to support correct shoulder position and posture in many people. Dedicating 20-30 minutes a day to these exercises, at least twice a week, can help an individual improve their posture and alleviate any associated symptoms.
It may take time to notice the adjustment to the shoulders, but it is better not to rush or force the body into a position that is not comfortable.
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.
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.
To do a wall angel, a person stands with their back to a wall, feet positioned slightly forward, keeping the arms pulled back to remain in contact with the wall at all times.
The arms start in a ‘W’ position, which resembles a person flexing both of their biceps. Both arms are against the wall.
The hands are then extended upwards towards the ceiling while keeping the shoulders down and flexed. Then the arms are returned to the starting ‘W’ position. This move is one repetition. Ideally, 10 such repetitions should be done during each training session.
Other positions that can help with rounded shoulders include:
Planks – A person lies on their front, propped up on the forearms and toes. The legs are straight and the hips are raised, creating a straight and rigid line from head to toe. Planks work the core and lower back muscles.
Pull-ups or seated rows – People with access to gym equipment can benefit from doing pull-ups or seated rowing with moderate weights. These exercises build strength in the shoulders and chest.
All of these exercises are designed to be gentle on the body. They should not hurt or make any back or shoulder pain worse. If any of these exercises cause pain, a person should contact their doctor or physical therapist to further diagnosis and improve poor posture.
Preventing rounded shoulders
Treating or preventing rounded shoulders does not end with exercises. Correct posture will have to be followed at all times to keep the rounded shoulders from returning.
Posture is a habit, and just as the body was trained to have poor posture, it must be trained to keep good posture throughout the day.