Take a look at people around you, especially if they are sitting. See any rounded shoulders? I guarantee that once you start looking you will find more and more people that fall into this camp.
Sitting at a desk, slouching on the sofa, carrying heavy bags on your back, leaning forward to play with your kids on the floor or changing nappies, breastfeeding, driving, lifting heavy loads …all these activities can lead to rounded shoulders, tension in your back, neck and shoulders so pain in those areas and headaches.
What happens? Well it’s known as upper crossed syndrome. Here is how is affects your muscles:
The pectorals in your chest become tight and short. They need stretching and releasing.
The lower trapezius and serratus anterious (mid back and shoulder blades) become weak and need strengthening.
The upper trapezius and levator scapulae become tight (neck and shoulder area, the classic areas most people want massaged), these need releasing.
Some exercises to help:
1. Pectoral stretch on the wall: Put your hand against the wall with elbow at shoulder height. Rotate your body away from the wall to stretch through the pec (chest) and anterior deltoid (shoulder).
2. Chin Tuck: Lie on your back in neutral. Push the chin down towards the chest while pushing the head into the floor.
3. Dumb waiter: Starting with the palm facing the ceiling, elbows bent and against your sides as if you have a tray of drinks on each hand. Rotate the arm out to about 45 degrees while maintaining a neutral wrist. Add a resistance band held over your palms and between thumb and first finger for more of a challenge.
4. Scalenes and upper traps stretch: The scalenes are muscles in the sides of the neck. To stretch the right side, tilt your left ear to you left shoulder. You will feel a stretch through the right side of your neck. Now tilt your head up to look at the top corner of the room or the coving. The stretch will move from your neck to your upper back. Place your left hand over your right eat and using gentle pressure push your ear into your hand and hand into your ear. Hold for 30 seconds. Bring your head up slowly and roll the shoulders to release. Do the same for the left side. You can either sit or stand when doing this stretch.
5. Wall Angels : Stand with your back touching the wall, arms by your side. Engage your core, think about your posture, lengthen up through your spine and the crown of your head. Raise both arms up so you can still them slightly in front of you. As you breath out bend your elbows and think about your arms sliding down the wall behind you (they probably won’t actually touch the wall it is there as an aid). Bring your arms down to a right angle or a chicken wing position, then straighten them back up. You should feel this strenghtening in your shoulder blade and upper back area. Keep your neck long throughout.
Think about your posture as much as you can. These exercises will help but ultimately correcting your posture throughout the day will make the biggest difference. Try setting a reminder on your phone/screensaver or stick a post-it note somewhere as a visual. After a few weeks of working on your posture you should notice that you automatically remember to adjust your body and things feel better but keep working on it. It is an ongoing lesson to complete!