Rounded shoulders give you a hunched appearance, making you seem shorter and rounder. It also causes neck and upper back pain.
“We do a lot of activity in front of our bodies every day – computing, lifting, carrying,” said Chrisine Block DPT, a Marshfield Clinic physical therapist. “All these activities pull our shoulders forward, especially when we’re not making ourselves aware of good posture.”
Who gets rounded shoulders?
Rounded shoulders can affect anyone at any age, Block said.
Parents may be particularly affected because they often carry and lift kids and bags or hunch while changing diapers and nursing babies.
Bending over to look at smart phones and tablets also contribute to poor posture and rounded shoulders. For kids, playing video games and using electronic devices negatively affect posture.
Can you prevent or reverse rounded shoulders?
“Yes, you can prevent rounded shoulders by practicing good posture and strengthening surrounding muscles,” Block said. “But you can only reverse them to a point. Some factors make it difficult. For example, as you age, changes in your spine may make it challenging or impossible to reverse.”
Frequently remind yourself throughout the day to check your posture.
At work, make sure you have a good ergonomic setup. If you experience pain at work, some employers will provide workstation assessments.
It is important to remind kids and help them develop good postural habits at school and home so they can prevent rounded shoulders now and later in life.
Try these exercises
Muscle imbalances between the chest and upper back pull the shoulders forward; strong and tight chest muscles and weakness in the upper back and shoulder blades cause rounded shoulders. Exercises to stretch chest and neck muscles and strengthen upper back and shoulder blade muscles can help.
Pain in the neck and upper back from rounded shoulders and poor posture is a common problem physical therapy can help with by developing an individualized exercise program.
Download and print these exercises to help prevent rounded shoulders and tape on your fridge or display at your workstation. Work through these exercises once or twice daily.