What Can I Do About Rounded Shoulders?

Rounded shoulders are so common, we may not even need to describe them. It’s a signifier of bad posture–your body is out of its ideal alignment. Before it goes from bad to worse, learn how to correct your rounded shoulders with simple steps that you can take at home.

Rounded shoulders are very noticeable, which may make you feel self-conscious. It’s difficult to retrain your body, without any guidance, or knowing which steps to take, much less remembering to take those steps regularly. First things first: visit your chiropractor. This can help eliminate any possibilities that your rounded shoulders are due to a more serious problem–beyond poor posture. The chiropractor will ensure it is not related to scoliosis, and will examine your body with these questions in mind, which will help the chiropractor to make a diagnosis and then determine the best course of action:

  • Is it chronic or transitory? (are you always stooped like this?)
  • Is this a degenerative pattern (is it getting worse?)
  • Is there spinal damage?
  • Are the vertebral disks being crushed?
  • Is it resulting in hernias?
  • What other pain and symptoms do you have, such as carpal tunnel, TMD, or headaches?


What causes rounded shoulders?

Rounded shoulders are not as complicated as most conditions. Regular, daily activities cause rounded shoulders. “Wear and tear” is a general cause, and includes working–especially computer work. Looking down too much is also a very common cause of rounded shoulders. Texting, in particular, is a huge influence on how your shoulders function.


How can I correct rounded shoulders?

Think about what causes rounded shoulders (above), and attempt to do the opposite. Poor posture? Correct yourself. Sitting down hunched over at your desk for computer work? Get a stand-up desk. In addition to reversing the causes, it’s also helpful to go to physical therapy. Whenever you’re not too busy, do some computer and desk stretches. Start there, and do facial stretches and neck stretches as well.


Additionally, exercises with bands or functional exercises allow you to activate your back muscles–the same ones that control your shoulders. When you regain good control and tone in your stabilizing muscles, your body will start to function properly–and in alignment.


How can chiropractic help with rounded shoulders?

When you visit the chiropractor, they’ll maintain focus on your posture, and how every part of your body is supported and functioning through properly aligned structure.


Seeing the chiropractor for rounded shoulders, you can expect the following during your visit and beyond:


Activating scapular stabilizers:

The posterior chain–which is the longest, strongest line along your spine, must be exercised and properly used in order to keep yourself stabilized and strong. The chiropractor can teach you how to exercise these muscles properly.


Treat muscular imbalance:

When a muscle is underused, it becomes smaller, and other muscles tighten and tense up when overcompensating. Over time, the body becomes used to this, and the patient must relearn how to re-activate and strengthen the muscles to straighten out their posture and keep their shoulders from rounding. These three muscle groups are most closely tied to rounded shoulders (or strengthening against them) are:


Rhomboids: The rhomboid major and the rhomboid minor are a large group of muscles in your upper back. They help stabilize your shoulder and shoulder blade. When the rhomboid is not working properly, it can become tight and diminish your upper limb movement.


Middle/lower trapezius: The muscles extend from your spine to your shoulder. The middle trapezius muscles help pull your shoulders back, and lets you extend your arms behind you. When this muscle does not function optimally, the shoulders are allowed to move forward, giving that rounded shoulder look. The lower trapezius can become painful when you spend too much time bent forward (texting, for example) and the muscle fails to keep you posture upright because of extended time in the wrong position.


Thoracic paraspinal muscles: If you can reach (extend through your back) rotate and bend to the side, you have your thoracic paraspinal muscles to thank. This set of muscles can lengthen and become weakened when shoulders are allowed to round.


How can chiropractic help rounded shoulders?

Correcting rounded shoulders seems easy–and it is, with the right training and support. The chiropractor can give you correct training, while ensuring total safety and increased stability, while you start your journey back to proper posture. When working your way back from rounded shoulders, it’s important to progress at a safe pace in order to avoid injuries. We will be able to give you properly prescribed exercises with specific guidance (frequency, duration, and more). Additionally, kinesio taping can assist the patient become aware of their slouching, so they can feel when they’re allowing their body to go back to the relaxed state that led to their rounded shoulders originally. Most patients will need an adjustment to help their body’s alignment, and some patients may find massage to be helpful–both of which we, Shephard Chiropractic Clinic can help with.


Simply rolling your shoulders back regularly is not going to help the more underlying issues of specialized muscle activation. Our extra knowledge will help your rounded shoulders come back into the proper place, so you can finally stand up straight.

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