4 Exercises to Fix Rounded Shoulders!

If you read our previous blog post on posture, you’ll remember we mentioned that the majority of the population has an excessively flat thoracic spine (the mid back), while the the rest has more of a rounded thoracic spine. If you DIDN’T fall into the “excessively flat” category, then this blog is for you, and we’ll teach you exactly how to fix that dreaded hunchback-like posture!

shoulder physical therapy charlotte

While a normal thoracic spine SHOULD have some mild rounding to it, an excessive amount can be detrimental. Your thoracic spine is the foundation for your neck and shoulders. If your thoracic spine isn’t mobile and can’t move well, the probability of pain increases significantly in the neighboring joints, especially the shoulders and neck.

As you can see from the graphic below, this excessive curvature sets the stage for extreme forward head posture. This causes the muscles responsible for holding the head and neck to work overtime, and become strained and/or overworked from trying to maintain a position that they just can’t handle. Excessive curvature of the thoracic spine also affects how well your shoulder blades move – putting the rotator cuff muscles in an extremely compromised position, often making overhead activities difficult and pretty painful due to the impingement that arises.

shoulder physical therapy charlotte
shoulder physical therapy charlotte

The 4 exercises below are some of the best to counteract those rounded shoulders. Let’s get started!

1. Weighted Thoracic Extension

Place your upper back on a bench and while keeping the hips low to the ground, extend the weight over your head. Hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat 10x.

Extension (arching backward) is probably one of the most popular directions that we see people work on. While extension is needed and important, we can’t negate the benefits of rotational exercises on mobility of the thoracic spine. The anatomy of these joints are made to move more readily into rotation than extension, so the rotational exercises coupled with extension exercises will actually give you greater results! 

2. Half Kneeling Thoracic Wall Circles

Kneel close to a wall with your outer knee up. Perform a big circle with the outer arm and try to stay in contact with the wall throughout the range. Perform 10-12 reps per side.

Now that we’ve mobilized the thoracic spine, to create lasting changes, we must strengthen! This exercise below activates and strengthens the important postural muscles in the upper back while also improving the position of your shoulder blades.

3. Wall Angels

Lean up against a wall and press your lower back flat. With both arms bent to 90 degrees and the pinky side of your hands on the wall, raise your arms up as high as you can until you feel a restriction. At that highest point, slide your pinkies up and down as fast as you can. Shoot for 1 minute!

Lastly, reel in that forward head posture by performing chin tucks and strengthening the muscles in the front of the neck.

4. Chin Tucks

Lie flat with a pillow under your head. Think about having an axis through your ears and gently nod your head around that axis, bringing your chin closer to your throat. Keep the head on the pillow at all times and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5 minutes.

Perform the 4 exercises above, 2 times per day, over the next 2 weeks, and you’ll notice a dramatic difference. Not only will your posture improve, but your neck and shoulders will feel and perform better as well. With that being said, you have to start now! Posture becomes much more difficult to improve the longer you put it off! If you need us for anything, we would love to help!

 Thanks for reading!
– Dr. Aerial

3 Responses

    1. That is great to hear!! Thank you for checking out website and blog, out physical therapist work hard to provide relevant and helpful content to our patients. Check out our Instagram @thecharlotteathelte for daily videos and exercise recommendations.

  1. Hello! I’ve been reading your weblog for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic job!

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