How to Avoid Rounded Shoulders in the Workplace

The shoulders or the deltoids are among the most important muscles used in daily life. (Sweeney et al. 2014). Our shoulder is a complex ball-and-socket joint that is responsible for flexion, extension, and rotation. Pushing, pulling, and lifting are just a few of the movements that require the use of our shoulders. Having rounded shoulders is an oft-neglected condition. 

Rounded shoulders are used to describe a kind of resting shoulder position that has moved forward from the body’s ideal alignment (Johnson, 2017). It is also referred to as “mom posture” because of its common occurrence in women during postpartum. This is considered to be an overall bad posture that can get worse if left untreated. It is certainly advisable to begin correcting the slumping through different means such as stretching, exercising, and changing some daily practices.

If you are unsure whether you have rounded shoulders, it is definitely advisable to schedule a visit with your local chiropractor or physical therapist. However, some indications of the condition would be:

The causes of having slumped posture or rounded shoulders are quite straightforward. Any activity that makes the body look down and forward for an extended period of time is a culprit. These activities or positions affect the muscles in the neck, back, and shoulders. To illustrate, some of these daily contributors can include, but is not limited to:

  • Driving long distances
  • Working with a computer
  • Playing games in front of a monitor
  • Using a mobile phone or tablet
  • Hand Washing laundry
  • Knitting or crocheting garments
  • Reading a book in bed
  • Watching television on the couch
  • Gardening your plants
  • Raking leaves or sweeping the floor

For those which involve sitting, if you notice your body shaping to the contour of the chair each time, it is highly possible that you have gradually been developing rounded shoulders. Constant engagement in such activities is actually conditioning the body to be hunched forward all the time, over time. Rounded shoulders become the body’s natural resting state. This can also lead to developing Dowager’s Hump, compression fractures, and shoulder blade pain (Martin, 2017). It is especially important for people with osteoporosis, osteopenia, and low bone mass to avoid having rounded shoulders or fix rounded shoulders.

Good postural alignment is only achieved with proper modification but so much time is spent on mindless sitting. It is strongly recommended that you begin changing the way you sit. It cannot be emphasized enough—do not slouch. Sinking back on your chair means your shoulder blades will move forward. This will force the shoulder joints to also move forward—until you are in a rounded shoulder position. What you can do is sit on the edge of the chair or bench. Allow only half of the surface to be seated on. This position will naturally let you have better control of your posture. You will inadvertently use your back muscles to hold your head over your shoulders. 

Moreover, you can also consider heightening your chair. This can be done by adding books or cardboard under the two back feet of the seat, given that you make sure that the seat is stable after your modifications. In addition, you can install lumbar support for your arms. This will allow you to elevate your arms while doing activities such as reading a book or using your phone. If you have an almost unavoidable tendency to slouch when seated, a good investment and intervention might be to purchase a standing desk

Exercising can also help correct forward shoulders. Having strong shoulders will make arm movements easier to do. Most upper-body exercises involve shoulder muscles. These can include throwing a baseball, lifting a suitcase, and passing food across the table (Chabut, Weight Training for Dummies). In the same manner, having weak shoulders will make you prone to injuries, even while doing menial activities such as opening a low-positioned drawer.

According to a study conducted between the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse players, it was determined that there are indeed exercises that are most beneficial for activating shoulder muscles. These include shoulder press, cable diagonal raise, upright row, bent-arm lateral raise,  seated rear lateral raise, push-up, cable diagonal raise, dips, front raise, and forty-five-degree incline row. John Porcari, head of the University of Wisconsin’s Exercise Physiology Department explained that there is no one best exercise for targeting shoulders because it is a complex joint. It should be done with a series of exercises--having in mind that it is important to be aware of which area, in particular, is being strengthened. 

Listed are some exercises to consider doing to strengthen your shoulders.

How to do a Dumbbell Shoulder Press:

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart.
  2. Have your knees be slightly bent with your core engaged and stabilized.
  3. Position your hands at the side of the shoulders, with a dumbbell of any comfortable weight in each hand. 
  4. Press the dumbbells upward until arms are extended overhead.
  5.  Exhale and lower hands back to the starting position.

How to do a Seated Rear Lateral Raise: 

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench (or any similar surface) with feet on the floor.
  2. Bend over and rest your torso on your thighs.
  3. Hold the dumbbells with both hands and extend. 
  4. Maintain a flat horizontal back position as you slowly raise your arms to your sides until elbows are the same height as shoulders. 
  5. Have your arms perpendicular to your torso. 
  6. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to starting position.

For more options to choose from, there are also stretches to avoid or correct rounded shoulders. These include chest stretches and arm reach stretches. On the other hand, some temporary fixes include the use of braces such as the Cruciform Anterior Spinal Hyperextension or C.A.S.H and the Truform Rigid Spinal Orthosis.

It takes commitment to avoid rounded shoulders but it would definitely be an easier endeavour than correcting rounded shoulders. Being conscious about one’s posture is a life-long commitment. It is important to prioritize your posture by incorporating simple activities and modifying current practices.

Sweeney, S. et al. (2014, September). Shoulders above the rest. Retrieved from