POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jul 12, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:25 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011
Rounded shoulders are not limited to folks in their vintage years. Many of us in the younger generation suffer from this as well.
One of the inevitable consequences of being more reliant on chairs, keyboards and computer screens to accomplish our jobs or chores is a transformation of our bodies. I have written before on the effects of training and how our bodies respond to the stimulus that we give it the most. For example, if you are a short-distance sprinter, the type of training you perform is far different from the type of training a long-distance runner would do.
Taking this same angle of thinking, if the majority of your time is spent sitting or standing and looking — for example, driving or office work — the most likely result of all this "training" is elevated shoulders that are rounded toward the front with the head tilted forward.
You might also complain of neck aches often felt toward the top of your head and down to the middle of your shoulder blades. Fortunately, unless there are other underlying causes resulting from an injury, these "training" effects are reversible. In general, the postural deviation described above is a result of overworking muscles on the front of your body (your chest and the neck and shoulder area) and underworking muscles on the back of your body (the ones below the shoulder blades and along the line of your armpit).
To begin correcting this, try these following steps.
» If you are able, lie flat on the floor. If your head is tilted too far forward and this is uncomfortable, use a rolled towel as a bolster to help straighten your spine from neck to tailbone. You will know that the position is correct if you feel no painful pressure throughout your body.
» Once you are comfortable, take a deep slow breath and move your hands, palms up, toward your head as if you were starting a snow angel.
» Bring your arms down on the exhale to complete the pattern. You should feel your shoulders flattening to the floor and your chest beginning to expand.
» Repeat for 30 to 45 seconds and do as many sets as comfortable. Limit your range of motion if you feel pain or sharp pinches in the neck and shoulder region.
» Take your time and work your way toward a full snow angel pattern while lying flat and feeling no discomfort.
Keeping your shoulders loose is the first step in reclaiming your posture. Remember, your body will respond to that which you do most. This will take time, but with enough persistence you will begin to notice that indeed your shoulders feel looser and your posture is improving.