6 Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders
Older folks tend to get rounded shoulders from lack of flexibility, years and years of poor posture and it not being corrected. People who drive a lot get used to sitting in a position where they slump forward. Those who hold children or cook all day also are at a greater risk. Anyone sitting at a desk for a large part of the day have a much greater tendency to get the dreaded shoulder hunch. Runners and cyclists also round their shoulders due to the nature of the sport.
When you spend the majority of your time with your arms in front of you, it becomes habit for your body to round the shoulders. As a result, the muscles in the upper back and neck strain, overstretch and overwork. The chest muscles shorten, the small muscles between the shoulder blades weaken and the back muscles stretch and lengthen. Smaller muscles that are not designed to be postural muscles have to work doing a job they were not designed to do.
The good news about it is that, with gentle yoga poses and stretches like the ones below, you will start to see excellent posture results over time. You will also notice increased shoulder flexibility and less chance of shoulder injuries.
The first 3 can be done sitting on a chair, standing, kneeling, or sitting on the floor. These are great stretches for someone with a desk or office job and can be done (and highly recommended) anytime throughout the day.
1.Back Bound Hand Pose
Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and bring both arms and hands behind you. Grab the right elbow with the left hand and then grab the left elbow with your right hand. If this is too hard, grab your wrist or forearm with the opposite hand. Take a few deep breaths. Lift your chest and keep your shoulder blades down and back. Now repeat by grabbing your left elbow with your right hand this time.
Bring your shoulder blades down and back and clasp your hands behind you. Slowly lift your arms as far as you are comfortable as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. I like to pretend there is an orange in between my shoulders and I am trying to squeeze the juice out of it by my shoulders. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles as you are doing this stretch.
3.Cow Face Pose
Place the back of your left hand on your lower back and slide it up as far as it will comfortably go. Now stretch your right arm up and bend your elbow reaching behind you to grab your left hand. This is difficult, so if you can’t do it, do not worry. Just go as far as you comfortably can and over time you will get better and better. Remember to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders down and back. Hold for a few breath cycles (30 seconds or so) and then repeat sides.
4.Baby Cobra Pose
Lie on your stomach with your hand directly beside your shoulders. Inhale and slowly press yourself up, keeping your elbows bent. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and then come back down.
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath and raise your hips off the floor as high as you are comfortable going. Now draw your shoulders down and back and clasp your hands together if possible. Try to reach them as far to your feet as possible. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and lower your body gently to the floor.
Kneel on the floor with your back to a chair. Keep your feet hip width apart and grasp the chair with your hands. Now push your pelvis forward and lift your chest to the sky. Breathe deeply as you keep pushing your shoulder blades back and down and keep lifting your chest as far as you can comfortably go. Hold this pose for a few breath cycles.
These stretches, yoga poses and exercises are very important to work into your regular training program for improved posture and to combat rounded shoulders. If you sit at a desk or have your arms out in front of you for a large portion of the day (driving, texting, typing, etc.), it’s extra important that you do these as often as you can.