Fix Rounded Shoulders with this 5 step posture correction program

Fixing Rounded Shoulders can be tricky since the process that you have to follow to correct your posture differs from the standard process of strength training. As we saw in my YouTube video, the solution of Rounded Shoulders comes through a 5 step posture correction program.

 

The 5 step process to fix Rounded Shoulders:

 

Step 1 – Ensuring Range of Motion

Step one is about ensuring that you have the range of motion needed to go from rounded shoulders to neutral shoulders. To do that you’ll need to practice your passive and active flexibility.

If you are already flexible enough to do that, you can go directly to step two, or use the exercises of step one as a good activation of this position. However, if you’re not able to actively pull your shoulders back to neutral position, you’ll need to train your body in that extra range of motion. 

To do that you’ll need to practice the two exercises below. 

Exercise 1

Exercise one is the single arm chest stretch with externally rotated arm. Simply place your fist on the wall around the height of the shoulder, with your palm looking up. From this position turn your body to the opposite direction. Hold this position for a set and switch to the other arm.

Start with:

2 sets, of 40 sec with 0 sec rest 

(Switching from the one arm to the other with no rest)

 

How to progress:

In this exercise you mainly progress by increasing range of motion which increases the stretch intensity. You can also add duration and sets. It makes sense to gradually go to: 

3 sets, of 60 sec with 0 sec rest

(Switching from the one arm to the other with no rest)

 

Note: 

The stretching intensity should be low to moderate for the muscles to be able to relax and increase their length. As a general rule for starters, you should aim for a 6/10 stretching intensity. 

 

Exercise 2

Exercise two is external rotations. In this exercise you will activate the external rotators, which antagonize the internal rotator muscles and also actively stretch them during each repetition. You can do this with zero equipment on the floor with a water bottle or in many different variations with equipment. 

 

Start with:

3 sets, of 10 repetitions with 40 sec rest

 

How to progress:

In this exercise, you mainly progress by increasing the weight, repetitions and sets. Start with 0.5kg (like a small water bottle) and gradually increase the weight. In terms of repetitions and sets it would make sense to gradually go to: 

4 sets, of 10 repetitions with 60 sec rest

 

Note: 

The main point of this exercise is the external rotation of the humerus bone and for this to happen you’ll need to keep you elbow attached to your torso at all times. 

 

Step 2 – Increase Postural Awareness

Even though you might have the range of motion needed to go back to neutral position you’ll probably have a hard time understanding where the right position of your shoulders is (neutral position). Spending hours and hours in a rounded shoulders position will make your body adjust to it and perceive it as your new normal.  To assume the correct position at any given time you’ll need to develop postural awareness. 

 

Exercise 3

The first exercise is the ‘’W’’ to neutral position. Here you’ll take a ‘’W’’ position on the wall, which forces your scapula back to its neutral position. Note that the position of your lumbar spine should also be neutral. From this point, bring your arms slowly back to standing position, while trying to hold the scapula steady.

Start with:

2 sets, of 10 repetitions with 40 sec rest

 

How to progress:

Progress by adding repetitions and increasing the speed of the movement.  It makes sense to gradually go to: 

3 sets, of 10 repetitions with 40 sec rest

 

Note: 

Speeding up the movement of the arms will make it harder and harder to keep the shoulders attached to the wall. 

 

Exercise 4

The second exercise for postural awareness is some old-fashioned practice next to a mirror. This is a practice also used by Fathollahnejad and coworkers in 2019 to increase body awareness on the subjects of the study. Position yourself next to a mirror and try to drive your shoulder back to a position that is in line with the vertical axis. Move in and out of posture and hold the neutral position for a couple of seconds. 

Start with:

2 sets, of 10 repetitions with 2 sec hold and with 40 sec rest

 

How to progress:

Progress by adding repetitions, and increasing the duration of each hold.  It makes sense to gradually go to: 

3 sets, of 8 repetitions with 4 sec hold and with 60 sec rest

 

Note: 

If you don’t have a mirror you can use your phone on selfie mode. If you feel that you are making progress you can challenge yourself by practicing without looking at the mirror and use it only to check if you are still able to assume the correct position. Once you’re able to assume the correct position with ease you can consider this exercise done. 

 

Step 3 – Develop Muscle Strength

 

Step three is about increasing strength in the muscles that keep your scapula on neutral position. These are mainly the lower trapezius and the serratus anterior. 

 

Exercise 5 

For the Serratus anterior, the most suitable exercise would be the single arm lift from kneeling position. Here, we are counting reps for sets, increasing the intensity by slowly going lower or using external intensity. 

Start with:

3 sets of 8 repetitions with 60 sec rest

 

How to progress:

In this exercise, you mainly progress by increasing the weight, repetitions and sets. Start with 0.5kg (like a water bottle) and gradually increase it. In terms of repetitions and sets it would make sense to gradually go to: 

4 sets, of 10 repetitions with 60 sec rest

 

Note: 

Remember that due to reduced awareness of this muscle you’ll probably get a higher activation on the shoulders, but this doesn’t mean that you are lacking technique.

 

Exercise 6

For the lower trapezius, the exercise you should do is a type of prone arm abduction (prone trap raises). Based on the studies I presented on my YouTube video I propose two different exercises. 

The first exercise is a prone 125 degrees arm abduction with internally rotated arms. You can do this on bent position with no equipment or prone on a bench.

Start with:

3 sets, of 6 repetitions with 40 sec rest

 

How to progress:

In this exercise, you mainly progress by increasing the weight, repetitions and sets. Start with 0.5kg (like a small water bottle) and gradually increase the weight. In terms of repetitions and sets it would make sense to gradually go to: 

4 sets, of 10 repetitions with 60 sec rest

 

Note: 

Make sure to have your shoulders locked down, otherwise you’ll be activating more of your upper trapezius

 

Exercise 7

The second exercise to increase muscle strength is an arm abduction at 90 degrees, with externally rotated arms.

Start with:

3 sets, of 6 repetitions with 40 sec rest

 

How to progress:

In this exercise, you mainly progress by increasing the weight, repetitions and sets. Start with 0.5kg (like a small water bottle) and gradually increase the weight. In terms of repetitions and sets it would make sense to gradually go to: 

4 sets, of 10 repetitions with 60 sec rest

 

Note: 

Make sure to have your shoulders locked down, otherwise you’ll be activating more of your upper trapezius

 

Step 4 – Develop Muscle Endurance

 

Moving on to step four, which is increasing muscle endurance. If you have the strength to pull your shoulders back, but you are quickly tired, then you won’t be able to keep this position for long enough. 

 As I have mentioned before in my channel, general preparation is key, but when it comes to becoming good at something, nothing can be better than spending time on the activity itself. This means that if you want to have the endurance to stay in neutral position for long periods of time, you have to stay in this position for long periods of time.  For this purpose, I propose two exercises.

 

Exercises 8

Hold the neutral position on the wall by keeping the shoulders attached to the wall. Keep this position for minutes and sets and mind the entire position of your body.

Start with:

2 sets, of 60 sec hold and with 60 sec rest

 

How to progress:

The main way to progress in this exercise is by increasing the time on each set. It makes sense to gradually go up to: 

3 sets, of 3 minutes hold and with 60 sec rest

 

Note: 

Once you can easily do more than 3 minutes on each set then you should be practicing this as a habit for long durations throughout you day. For that take a look at step 5.

 

Exercise 9

The second exercise to increase muscle strength would be to practice the neutral position during different moments in your day. This means just reminding yourself to keep the neutral position and holding it for as long as possible. I’ve found that the best strategy is to schedule reminders throughout the day, and most importantly during the hours when you know you’ll need them most. This is going to be tough only for the first few days, because the muscles that support us in standing position are designed to work without really feeling them activate. When you’re standing, there are hundreds of muscles that work in order to keep you in this position, but you don’t really feel them. The same thing will happen after a few days with your shoulders’ posture. 

 

Step 5 – Change Bad Postural Habits

Step for is all about changing your habits and making sure that you will get rid of the rounded shoulders posture once and for all. Think about this, when you start searching about how to fix your rounded shoulders what you were actually trying to do was to reach a state where you can hold the neutral position for the hours you were previously on rounded shoulders. Using the preparation from steps one to four, you can slowly start practicing throughout your day and most importantly during the hours that you were previously on rounded shoulders. 

Remember, that no matter how much time you put into your practice, if you keep spending hours and hours out of posture, your body will choose to adapt to this. 8 hours out of posture is a much greater stimulus for your body than 10’ of posture correction exercises. 

So, simply train your endurance in this position at the times during which you were previously destroying your posture. Thus, replace a bad habit with your endurance training from step four. 

Note: 

Besides that, you’ll need to adjust your environment according to your body and needs. Adjustments like these would be placing your screen higher, choosing a better chair, or taking a more comfortable position when you’re on your phone. Take the time to identify which habits are responsible for your rounded shoulders and find alternatives that can slowly eliminate them.

Also note that no position is bad for a small amount of time and even the best posture must be altered by different positions or movement every now and then.

 

If you practice these steps I’ll be happy to hear about your progress in the comment section of my video on Fixing Rounded Shoulders! Keep it up!