Have you noticed yourself often shrugging your shoulders, whether during exercise or simply just during your everyday life? Have you noticed yourself unintentionally rounding your shoulders forward? Many of us have jobs or everyday tasks that require us to spend much of our time sitting, which often results in those postural deviations. In this article, I’m going to give you 3 tips to help resolve these problems.
1) Rows, Rows, Rows
If you’ve ever trained with us here at Movimento, chances are you’ve performed many rowing movements. Believe it or not, we aren’t preparing you to win a gold medal in rowing at the Olympics (although that would be awesome). The reality is that rowing movements have many benefits to them. One of these benefits is that they can help correct the postural deviations mentioned earlier. When performing a row, we are working many of the muscles in your back. Two of those muscles are big contributors when it comes to correcting these issues, and they are the rhomboids and the lats. Your rhomboids play a role in bringing your shoulder blades together. Therefore, strengthening your rhomboids over time is going to allow us to help bring those rounded shoulders back into proper position. Your lats play a role in bringing your shoulder blades down. Therefore, strengthening your lats over time is going to allow us to help bring those raised shoulders down into proper position.
2) Retract and Depress Your Scapula
Wait, what? You may have heard this term before and wondered what the heck it meant. Basically, your scapula is more commonly known as your shoulder blade. The movement of scapular retraction is when we bring those shoulder blades together. The movement of scapular depression is when we bring those shoulder blades downward. Being able to bring your shoulder blades into this retracted, depressed position is going to be the biggest factor in strengthening the muscles involved in these movements and therefore providing a long-term solution to the postural deviations mentioned earlier.
If you’re someone who has shoulders that have a tendency to shrug, it is likely that you have tightness in your levator scapulae and upper traps. One result of those tight muscles is that you are likely to also have lengthened, weak middle and lower traps. The middle and lower traps are among the muscles that are strengthened when we retract and depress the scapula, respectively, which will help relieve the tension you are experiencing in your upper traps. That’s why you may have noticed that when you’re training with us at Movimento, we’ll cue you to “bring your shoulders back and down.” Keep in mind that it’s not just important to do during exercise, but during your everyday life as well!
3) Open Up!
A result of modern lifestyles that require us to spend so much time seated is that we are often tight in many of the muscles in the front of our body. One area in particular that is likely to have tightness that is contributing to the issues we’ve been discussing is your chest. If you’re unsure about how to stretch your chest, simply think about bringing your body into a position that is the opposite of the rounded, forward position we are in when we sit. Something as simple as lying on your back on a foam roller with your arms out at your sides will greatly help counteract the effects of sitting.
Not only is maintaining proper posture beneficial to your health, it’s also a more flattering look than having the shoulders either rounded forward or up by your ears! But regardless of your reason for wanting to improve your shoulder positioning, I hope you take these three tips and apply them to begin seeing progress toward proper shoulder health and functionality.