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"To assess yourself, follow the same procedure as before [the procedure for Identifying Forward Head Posture] but have your friend look for an increase in the convex [curving or bulging outward] nature of the curve in your upper back (photos 1 and 2) [you can also look yourself, or use a second mirror]."
You now need to find out whether you have lost the ability to extend your upper back — this is very common in runners with rounded shoulders."
"Improper backpack use results in flexion of the lower spine, loss of upper back extension, internally rotated shoulders and forward head carriage - chronic problems prevalent in our adult population."
"Rounded shoulders can restrict rib cage expansion. Standing straight and placing your shoulders back will help improve breathing."
"Another critical issue consideration of the neck region. Repetitive motion problems occur in the upper extremity while the worker is sustained sitting or standing at the workstation. Static posture often leads to forward head posture and a protracted shoulder girdle.
This encourages a degree of thoracic outlet compression, where
· Tight lateral neck muscles compress the nerves and vessels running to and from the working upper extremity. This is a major source of reduced nutrient pathway to the brachial plexus nerves to the carpal tunnel, radial tunnel and cubital tunnel.
· There is also obstruction of vein and lymphatic drainage of the upper extremity in this posture, creating tissue fluid backup throughout the upper extremity. This reduces nutrients feeding working tissue."
Some people with rounded shoulders (also known as protracted shoulder girdle) may have a muscular imbalance between the chest and the upper back muscles. The chest may be too tight and the upper back may be weak.
Someone with a tight chest might stretch their chest by simply putting their hands in their pockets. More effective stretches can be found in the section:
Note 1: The ‘hitchhiker’ exercise also strengthens the lats. It’s important to stretch the lats in order to prevent rounded shoulders.
Note 2: Before beginning this exercise, your arms should be hanging naturally by your sides. You’ll know you’re doing it right if you feel tension in the same muscles that are exercised during a ‘shoulder retraction’ exercise (taking the shoulders back as far as you can, trying to squeeze the shoulder blades together in back of you; for more info see the section Muscle Tension: Upper Extremity and Neck Flexibility ).
In the book 'Posture, Get it Straight!' Janice Novak recommends sleeping on your back if you have rounded shoulders. She also recommends the 'hitchhiker' exercise.
· "Let your arms hang naturally by your sides.
· Notice where your thumbs are pointing. If the thumbs are pointing in towards your thighs [or not pointing straight ahead], then your shoulders are too rounded.
· Externally rotate your arms as if you were hitchhiking with both hands. Your thumbs should end up pointing behind you, as if you were hitchhiking. You should feel your shoulders widen.
· Next, press your shoulders down and let your arms relax. You should find that your thumbs end up pointing straight ahead. +This is the anatomically correct position for your hands when your arms hang by your sides. Your palms should face your thighs and your thumbs should be pointing straight ahead.
I hope this makes sense. It is shown very clearly with drawings in my book, but rather hard to describe only with words."
Posture, Get it Straight! by Janice Novak, MA
"Rounded shoulders can be improved by remembering to pull your shoulders back and by performing back strengthening exercises, such as reverse flys and wide arm, upper back rows."
Note: For the following exercise 'Upper Back Rows' it is important to keep the elbows slightly bent in order to exercise the back effectively.
Stretching: Scaleni Muscles (Neck)
Note: Stretching some muscles continuously, for longer than 30 seconds, can exacerbate rounded shoulders and forward head posture by lengthening your muscles.
It's may be harder to build muscle with the 'hitchhiker' exercise since it takes less effort to do this exercise. Other exercises such as reverse flys and wide arm, upper back rows provide a tougher workout, but may also put a greater strain on your upper back.
The Lower Back
In addition to exercising the upper back, the 'hitchhiker' exercise can also exercise the lower back. Exercising the lower back can cause a muscular imbalance between the lower back and the abdominals, and bad posture, if the abdominals are not also exercised.
The 'reverse flys' exercise seems to be the most effective exercise for rounded shoulders that doesn't require exercise machines.