Rounded Shoulders

Protracted (Rounded) Shoulders

Commonly found in conjunction with forward head posture, this type of posture is most noticeable in the more muscle bound gym goers who over train the muscles of the chest and forego training the back to remain in balance. This however is an exaggerated version and the more commonly seen is that of the office worker who allows the shoulders to remain slumped and forward whilst working for long periods.

This posture causes a tightening of the pectoral muscles on the front of the chest along with a lengthening and dysfunction of the rotator cuff muscles which wrap round and help provide stability to the shoulders along with the upper back musculature (primarily mid/lower traps and rhomboids) which pull the shoulder blades backwards and fix them onto the upper back.

The tendency as part of this hunched forward posture is to give into excessive flexion in the thoracic spine (upper back). This reverses the natural kyphotic curve of the upper back and so interferes with the counter balancing mechanism used by the spine to support the added weight of the ribcage and organs therein. The result being then that compensation must be provided in the lumbar spine (lower back) with extra flexion and extra strain on the ligaments and local paraspinal muscles (the small muscles which run between the vertebra providing stability). This compounds and exacerbates the sensation of aching that can accompany dysfunction of the global muscles (larger more superficial muscles which cause movement) of this area.

The results of this can be pain and aching in the chest from the tightening of the chest musculature along with potential for aching between the shoulder blades and throughout the upper back owing to the dysfunction of the ligaments, global and local muscles as well as the possibility for spraining the facets here via a repetitive sprain mechanism (meaning damage by the product of lots of low force injuries to a tissue until one is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back). Those with rounded shoulders also leave themselves open to injuries when training and playing sport owing to the lack of proper stabilisation around the shoulder girdle which can leave them susceptible to rotator cuff injuries amongst other things.

Thankfully all this can be dodged with a few choice stretches for the chest, a little strengthening of the mid back and the body awareness to sit up in a nice tall position with our chest open, shoulders back and elbow tight to the side of the body to keep the shoulders nice and relaxed.

And so we’ve come to the end of our seated posture odyssey, I appreciate there’s been quite a bit said, but hopefully you now appreciate a bit more why our posture is so important to our health both physically and in other ways and you can take away a few keys points below which will help keep your body free of any more stress and strain than is absolutely necessary.

• Sit with feet flat on floor and knees below hips.

• Aim for symmetry and avoid crossing legs or sitting on wallets, etc. to keep the pelvis level side to side.

• Aim to keep your pelvis in neutral and avoid overarching or bending forward/rounding the spine.

• Head directly over shoulder with eyes looking straight ahead.

• Shoulders back with elbow glued to your sides to keep chest open and shoulder girdle in neutral (imagine a T-rex trying to using a keyboard and that’s how your arms should be sitting).

Our team of chiropractors and massage therapists are on hand to answer any questions you may have, so get in touch today via or on +44 (0)20 7374 2272.

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