What causes rounded shoulder?
1. Poor posture and your spine
Slouched posture progressively makes your spine bending forward. Thoracic Spine (mid-upper back) is a pillar or your scapula-shoulder complex. Slouched posture results in scapula bones tilitng forward following shoulder joint protruding forward.
2. Muscle imbalance in Scapula-Shoulder complex
There is a natural pattern of muscle imbalance in shoulder complex. Chest muscles (Pectoralis muscles) are getting tight and back muscles (Rhomboid, mid-lower trapezius) are getting weak. This muscle imbalance makes shoulders rolling forward.
Tips: If you do chest exercise (Pushing type exercise such as bench press) too much without doing back exercise (Pulling type exercise), this pattern will be accelerated causing lots of issues later.
3. Sitting with one arm on the desk
If you keep sitting with your elbow on the desk protruding your shoulder, it can make scapula stabilizers weak and tighten chest muscles.
4. Psycological effect
If you feel shy, not confident or self-conscious, it can represent with narrowing your chest. Posture demonstrates the status of your mind at some extent.
5. Low body awareness
If you haven’t had enough chance or moment feeling or seeing your posture, you may not even know your posture is not in a proper alignment even though others think your posture is poor. Until you acknowlege your poor posture and become more mindful of your posture, it will be hard to improve your posture.
How to restore good posture?
1. Aware of your poor posture
STANDING IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR can help you aware of your posture. When you go to the gym, go to the big size mirror where you can see the whole body. Observe your posture while standing or doing exercise. If you find your posture poor with buttocks sticking out and head forward, you need to HATE your bad posture first! That is going to be your motivation to correct your posture.
2. Maintain good sitting posture (with assistive device)
The position people find hardest to maintain must be sitting. Especially if you slouch your low back, it naturally makes your neck sticking out and shoulder rounded. If you don’t have good chair with low back support, I recommend using lumbar roll (Wrap this around the chair and have this roll gently pushing your small of low back in sitting)
This will help you maintain your natual spine curve (reverse C-curve) with having less fatigue.
3. Improve your body awareness
If you have low body awareness, it must be challenging to maintain good posture because you don’t even recognize your posture. Then, how to improve your awareness of your body?
First of all, you have to be motivated to improve your posture and balance of your body.
Second, do exercise regularly. Yoga or Pilates exercise is good for your flexibility and core strength as well as improving awareness.
Third, go to see a good physical therapist or medical professionals who can evaluate your whole body balance. You can save enormous amount of time by having total body evaluation with customized program to get an insight into your body.
4. Chest muscle stretching
I recommend long time sustained stretching rather than short time door way stretching for the chest muscles. If you fold a towel (Scapula size) and put it under the scapula, stretching would be more effective due to fulcrum effect.
5. Scapula Squeezing exercises
These exercises focus on strengthening back muscles especially scapula retractors (You can feel when you squeeze your shoulder blades together). Since this muscles are antagonist (Working towards the opposite direction) of your chest muscles, it will help balance your shoulder complex and prevent rounded shoulder position.