The only way we can fix rounded shoulders is to know why the occur in the first place.
The rounded shoulder look is not really tight pecs and the weak rhomboids that many people say it is. I should say that the upper cross syndrome is still in effect, but it's more of a position of compensation than weak muscles.
Two things happen here:
1. The sternum is pulled down, restricting the airflow and expansion in the chest. This may be a result over too much rectus abdominis activity pulling the sternum down and restricting it's ability to push up during inhalation. This will close the upper ribs and prevent them to expand in the front. You may also see the mid spine, at the same level of the sternum begin to bend as this is where airflow will push.
2. The shoulder blades tip forward in an attempt to improve shoulder range of motion. This gives the appearance of the shoulder shrugging up. Now the shoulder is restricted in its movement and further closes down the ability to expand in the front. The triceps can help tip the shoulder back due to it's attachment on the shoulder blade and allow for airflow to normalize.
Many will attempt the "down and back" strategy of squeezing the shoulder blades together, but this will most likely come with the compensation of the lower back extending and stealing range of motion on other ends of the shoulder rotation.
Below is a short video explaining and showing how these things present in the body.
So the common solution here is to learn how to expand the anterior chest wall without compensating in other areas of the body. Below shows how we can use the triceps to initiate this action, along with some advanced activities to push the sternum up
Placing the arms in a higher position can help keep the sternum tipped up, as long as you are not going beyond the available shoulder range of motion you have and extending through the low back.
This are just some possible solutions to your rounded shoulders position with ways to implement strategies within the gym.
Sometimes with years of compensation, the body can become stiff and the hands of a skilled professional may be required to get things moving.
If you are unsure or feel like you are not getting the results you would like, send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
or you can talk to a PT today and find out what solutions you may need,.
Dr. Peter Dionisopoulos is the owner and founder of Dynamic Performance & Rehab. He has worked with many high-level athletes and military personnel, but his true passion is to help active adults maintain their lifestyle by providing information and potential solutions to their aches and pains so they can continue with the activities they love.