5 Exercises To Correct Rounded Shoulders From Office Work

/ 10.6.11 / Medically Reviewed
Updated

Millions of working professionals around the world sit in an office chair all day long, which can significantly affect overall health and posture over time (See: Is A Sedentary Job Affecting Your Health?).

I was invited by Business Insider, which is one of the most popular business websites to contribute an article about correcting rounded shoulders, which is an all too common issue with working professionals.

Here’s a link to the full BusinessInsider.com article:
5 Exercises To Fix Hunchback Posture From Office Work

Article Summary:

Slouching in your office chair every day forces your chest muscles to tighten, which pulls your spine forwards and internally rotates your shoulders. At the same time, your postural muscles in your upper back can loosen and weaken. The clinical term for this condition is Kyphosis.

These 5 corrective exercises can help relieve tension in your chest while strengthening those upper back postural muscles. Chose 3 of the 5 exercises (one must be a chest exercise) to repeat a few times per week:

5 Exercises To Correct Rounded Shoulders

Photos of each exercise are to the right in order.

1) Chest Stretch – 30 seconds both sides for 3 sets

2) Chest Compression – 30 seconds both sides for 3 sets

3) Upper Back Foam Rolling – Roll up and down your upper back, repeat for 3 sets

4) Prone Y Stretch – Hold for 5-10 seconds, complete for 3 sets of 8 rep

5) Close Grip Row – Complete for 3 sets of 15 repetitions

Extra Tips To Correct Rounded Shoulders:

1) Be conscious of your posture

2) Follow a balanced exercise program

3) Use proper ergonomics at work

I want to send a special thanks to the Business Insider team for inviting me as a guest writer and I also want to thank Chris Kirkinis for doing a great job on the photos.

Hope you enjoyed the video and the Business Insider article and please do share with friends!

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28 Comments

  1. profile avatar
    Stephanie Oct 06, 2011 - 17:03 #

    Great video, thank you!

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry Oct 06, 2011 - 21:20 #

      @Stephanie – Thanks for the kudos. I appreciate it! Took a lot of research to come up with that short video and choose those 5 exercises.

  2. profile avatar
    Bostjan Oct 07, 2011 - 12:40 #

    Great video, that was just something i needed.

    And i really enjoy your website. You rarely find some good websites anymore, but this one is really great. Regulary updated with a lot of usefull information, even for a people who are not in a very good shape (yet 🙂 )

    Regards,

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry Oct 07, 2011 - 12:57 #

      @Bostjan – Thanks a lot for the compliment. I really appreciate it. I’ve been working really hard on creating free content that is useful for people at different fitness levels.

  3. profile avatar
    Alicia Oct 07, 2011 - 17:19 #

    Thanks for the info! I have been noticing recently that my shoulders are rounding, so this post came at a good time. I have also noticed when I sit I often lean to one side and I am afraid my postural muscles are becoming uneven. Do you have any suggestions as to how to correct this?

  4. profile avatar
    Drift Oct 08, 2011 - 12:23 #

    Thanks for sharing! It seems like it was personalized for me by my special trainer! I started doing them right away and am confident that it is going to help build up my poor posture and get rid of my upper back and right shoulder pain. God Bless you! Drift

  5. profile avatar
    Marc Perry Oct 10, 2011 - 13:12 #

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I appreciate your participation!

    @Alicia – Posture is a pretty big topic and unfortunately it’s not that simple to evaluate posture. For example, any weakness, or pain you feel could originate from any part of the kintetic chain (i.e. ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, neck, wrists). With that said, I think these 5 exercises I list in the article can be very effective at alleviating some of the symptoms you may be experiencing and especially full body workouts to improve overall strength, posture, and stability. Of course, check with your doctor before starting an exercise program, and you may even consider a postural evaluation from a doctor/physical therapist/personal trainer who is qualified.

  6. profile avatar
    Mircea Oct 12, 2011 - 07:46 #

    Very good sense on this exercise set.
    Complementary to exercise 2, when taking a shower, raise an arm over the head and make the warm water flow on that part of the chest. Warm water will relieve the tension accumulated in that muscle. Do this exercise for both parts of the chest, alternatively or simultaneously.
    A harder version of exercise 4 would be to take same position and hold tight both ankles and pull the legs to stretch the chest and strengthen the lower back.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry Oct 13, 2011 - 13:10 #

      @Mircea – Definitely some interesting recommendations you are making, which I haven’t considered before. Thanks for the comment.

  7. profile avatar
    Ronald Hampton Oct 19, 2011 - 16:36 #

    I get a lot of these exercises and stretches done during my daily workout and nightly yoga. I also kicked my office chair to the curb and replaced it with an exercise ball. the ball almost forces correct posture on you and I’m told will help me strengthen core muscles. Is there any bad about using it at all time working or should I be using a combination of the chair and ball?

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry Oct 21, 2011 - 10:08 #

      @Ronald Hampton – That’s a great questions and one I’ve thought about and researched myself. What I’ve found is that most research and feedback from physiologists and physical therapists is that sitting on an exercise ball can be helpful for short periods of time, but is not advisable to use for an entire day. It’s difficult for all the trunk muscles to stay upright properly sitting on an unstable surface for hours and hours, and some say it may put extra pressure on the intervertebral discs. With all that said, I’m a big fan of going by feel. If you feel it’s helping your posture and you notice improvement in your energy and attentiveness etc., then it may be worth sticking with it. The New York Time wrote a short article on this topic a year ago which is a decent overview: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/health/21really.html/. Good to hear you are getting ample flexibility exercise in your exercise regimen.

  8. profile avatar
    Kyle Nov 09, 2011 - 00:05 #

    This was very helpful and the video was quick and easy to understand. Thank you for posting.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry Nov 10, 2011 - 21:03 #

      @Kyle – No problem. Thanks for the comment.

  9. profile avatar
    Simon Mar 26, 2012 - 22:24 #

    Wow! I can’t believe even wall can help correcting rounded shoulders. Thanks Marc!
    Based on the ‘pencil test’ I don’t have rounded shoulders, however I’m interested in trying these exercises.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Apr 01, 2012 - 12:30 #

      @Simon – Happy you enjoyed the article!

  10. profile avatar
    saleh May 15, 2012 - 11:42 #

    Hi Marc, very informative. In addition to (or as a substituted for) 5, I would add face-pulls (or rope rows to the neck). These are great for rounded shoulders as well as shoulder stability and the rotator cuff.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT May 18, 2012 - 08:35 #

      @saleh – awesome, thanks for sharing.

  11. profile avatar
    Matt Jun 15, 2012 - 02:37 #

    I’ve tried the chest stretch several times but I keep feeling it in my upper arm and not the chest.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jun 18, 2012 - 17:48 #

      @Matt – Make sure your hand is right at, or slightly higher than chest level. In addition, what has become my favorite exercise for correcting rounded shoulders which I do not have in this list is using a massage ball against the upper traps and front part of the traps, which is where a lot of people have a lot of tension and “store” their stress. One more thing, I wouldn’t stretch your chest cold, usually during/after a workout is best.

  12. profile avatar
    sheila Jun 15, 2012 - 20:49 #

    I just pinned this on pinterest. I have rounded shoulders and hopefully this will help!

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jun 18, 2012 - 18:11 #

      @sheila – Thanks sheila!

  13. profile avatar
    Jennifer Jul 12, 2012 - 07:02 #

    Great tips. I’m definitely gonna try ’em out. Just a q though. With the tennis ball exercise, is that just rolling it around high up on the chest below the collar bone? Or around the whole chest area? If so, I feel a little put-off seeing as I have a lot of ‘female fat’ on my chest *cough*, and am not too keen on yanking any skin around needlessly.

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Jul 12, 2012 - 16:42 #

      @Jennifer – good point. I would recommend the upper part of your chest and especially where your chest meets your shoulder muscles, that’s where trigger points and muscle knots can form. And one thing I forgot to mention in the article is the upper back. Definitely use the ball on your upper back to help lessen the tension in your neck/shoulders. Your shoulders will fall back and relax naturally.

  14. profile avatar
    Seb Aug 24, 2012 - 16:43 #

    On a random day should you do this one, twice or more ?
    For example on Monday I would do this once , twice , or more?

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Sep 05, 2012 - 14:08 #

      @Seb – It’s really up to you. You could do it once per day, or before your workout, which is what I do. You can choose one, or a few of the exercises, or all of them. It depends on your schedule and how much you need to help your posture.

  15. profile avatar
    Seb Sep 22, 2012 - 15:55 #

    ok thanks for answering my question even though your very busy !!!!!

  16. profile avatar
    beth Oct 12, 2012 - 15:02 #

    I find your articles/videos to be very insightful. Having worked in spine injury medicine as a midlevel health care practitioner and then experiencing a t-spine fracture and soft tissue injury from a skydiving injury a decade ago (with subsequent treatment for chronic neck, upper back, shoulder, and chest pain by a couple of well-respected physical therapists over the years, I have to say, that I think your problem-oriented approach to fitness is, to me, quite profound. Some serious props to your exercise recommendations on this one. Thanks!

    1. profile avatar
      Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT Oct 18, 2012 - 17:19 #

      @beth – thank you so much for the kind comment!

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