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Ask the Expert: Hunched Shoulders

Ask the Expert: Hunched Shoulders

Q: I have a client with a pronounced stoop, with the shoulders hunching forward. What are some exercises that can help with this?

A: 

With so many of us working desk jobs that allow our core to weaken and encourage less than ideal posture, this is truly the age of hunched shoulders.

Hunched shoulders are often caused by tightness through the anterior muscles of the chest, and weakness or excessive length in the posterior muscles of the upper back, as well as increased kyphosis of the thoracic spine. To combat this, it’s best to focus on strengthening the posterior muscles of the upper back.

Try some of the exercises below to work on building up the upper back to combat the shoulders moving forward.

Spinal Rotation

Starting Position: Side-lying, pelvis and spine neutral, knees and hips flexed, head resting on bottom arm, top arm long in front of shoulder

  • Inhale, reach the top arm to the ceiling
  • Exhale, rotate upper torso, reaching arm out to the side
  • Inhale, hold
  • Exhale, return torso and arm to front
  • Repeat 2–3x each side

Breast Stroke Preps, Hands by Shoulders

Starting Position: Lying prone (face down) on an exercise mat, pelvis and spine in neutral position, legs long, hands on the mat under the shoulders

  • Inhale to prepare
  • Exhale, extend upper torso off the mat, keep the bottom ribs on the mat
  • Inhale, hold
  • Exhale, return to the mat
  • Repeat 3–5x

Breast Stroke Preps, Hands by Hips

Starting Position: Lying prone (face down) on an exercise mat, pelvis and spine in neutral position, legs long, hands back by the hips

  • Inhale to prepare
  • Exhale, reach the torso forward and up off the mat, stay low and hover
  • Inhale, hold
  • Exhale, return to the mat, relax shoulders
  • Repeat 3–5x

Back Rowing Preps (with Flex Band®) Bend and Stretch

Starting Position: Seated, pelvis and spine neutral, legs straight or flexed, Flex-Band around feet, holding ends of band, arms reaching forward, palms down

  • Inhale to prepare
  • Exhale, flex the elbows
  • Inhale, extend the elbows
  • Repeat 5–10x

Back Rowing Preps (with Flex Band®) Plow

Starting Position: Seated, pelvis and spine neutral, legs straight or flexed, Flex-Band around feet, holding ends of band, arms reaching forward

  • Inhale to prepare
  • Exhale, reach arms straight back
  • Inhale, return
  • Repeat 5–10x

Back Rowing Preps (with Flex Band®) Roll Down with Biceps Curls

Starting Position: Seated, pelvis and spine neutral, legs straight or flexed, Flex-Band around feet, holding ends of band, arms reaching forward, palms up

  • Inhale to prepare
  • Exhale, flex the lumbar spine towards the mat, bringing the hands into the shoulders
  • Inhale, stay, extending elbows
  • Exhale, flex the elbows 4x
  • Inhale, stay
  • Exhale, flex forward over the legs
  • Inhale, return to vertical
  • Repeat 5–10x