Hunched or rounded shoulders are one of the postures we see most often in the studio (and once you see it, you’ll start noticing it everywhere on the street, too!)
Lots of people know that hunching down with your back and shoulders curved inward isn’t good posture, but have no idea how to fix it (or if it even can be fixed).
Causes of Rounded Shoulders
- Desk and computer work
- Bending, lifting and carrying things
- Wearing a heavy backpack
- Slouching habits
Simply put, we end up in this posture from posture habits, and imbalanced exercise. None of us should have to sit and stand up straight as a bolt all the time, but most people end up slouching often because they don’t have the core, upper back and shoulder strength to sit or stand straight for any great length of time. And when left to our own devices when it comes to exercise, many of us don’t even know that we’re neglecting certain areas. These areas get weaker and weaker, and cause imbalanced postures like rounded shoulders.
Feel free to take a look at some examples of common imbalanced postures in this NHS guide.
Is it bad to have rounded shoulders?
People often say ‘my posture is terrible’ but are stuck not knowing where to go and how to deal with it. Rounded shoulders and similar imbalanced postures can be improved with targeted exercises – this is exactly what we do in Pilates! A properly trained Pilates teacher will assess your posture and ‘prescribe’ exercises to improve on it, helping you to strengthen weaker areas, and be more comfortable in your own body. They will be able to teach you the exercises in a way that you understand, correct your form where necessary, and help identify the specific causes of your shoulder posture.
There’s no such thing as a WRONG posture, but certain ones can put undue strain on particular areas (ever stand up after sitting at your desk for a while and remember you have a back and realise it’s stiff and achey?), and balancing these can reduce everyday pain and discomfort, strengthen us for daily tasks and help us wear our bodies that bit easier. You might not even notice the small ways that rounded shoulders or imbalanced back posture has been affecting you until you start seeing the benefits of improving it!
Rounded shoulders compresses your diaphragm, which can lead to shallow breathing, so improving your posture here can make it easier to breathe… more easily!
And of course there is also that little selfish, slightly shallow voice on our heads that tell us we look better when our back and shoulders are tall and straight. Body language matters, and it’s true that standing straight is associated with confidence and capability.
If you’re in the Edinburgh area and would like to get an assessment or details on Pilates classes, feel free to give us a call on 0131 652 1904.
If, for whatever reason, you’d like to work on your back and shoulders a little but you can’t make it to see a Pilates teacher at the moment, I’ve included some foundational exercises below.
In this video I demonstrate three great exercises for rounded shoulders – which work on improving your upper back and core.
If you’re interested in some more information on shoulder posture, I recommend checking out a few posts by Pilates with Priya. When Priya started pilates, shoulders were one of the core things she worked on, so her advice comes from direct personal experience.
Lots of love,