Why does desk work round the shoulders?
When the arms are held forward of the body for extended periods as they often are in desk work and keyboard use, the whole shoulder girdle becomes tight and uncomfortable and the shoulders appear to be perpetually rounded. The shoulder girdle includes the collarbone and shoulder blade and together these bones make a shallow joint for the upper arm. With the arms held continuously forwards, the collarbones follow the position of the arms and the shoulder blades are pulled apart from one another, even winging up off the ribcage in some instances. Muscles that internally rotate the arm are usually tight and include latissimus dorsi, pectoralis minor, teres major, upper portion of rhomboids and levator scapula. There is also associated weakness in both upper and lower trapezius
In an ideal ergonomic setup, the arms are in neutral, that is, with the elbows directly underneath the shoulders and elbows bent to approximately 90 degrees. In this the internal rotators are less likely to be tight and the shoulder girdle in better balance. Exercises to strengthen the rhomboid muscles between the shoulder blades can be useful in helping to maintain a more balanced posture without strain but a simple exercise which includes the external rotators can often be more useful.
The following Pilates exercise for scapula positioning and stability can be performed without needing any apparatus which makes it very easy to perform regularly throughout the day. For anyone requiring a little extra feedback or strengthening, a Theraband can be added to increase resistance.
Instructions | External Rotation Exercise For Rounded Shoulders
Whether you’re sitting or standing, think tall to prevent slouching without extending excessively through the lower back.
Bend the elbow to 90 degrees. Palms facing inwards.
Your upper arm needs to be in neutral with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders.
The movement comes from rotating the humerus, or upper arm bone, externally; imagine the arm pivoting at the elbow, the biceps rolling to face outwards as the hands move apart from one another.
Don’t allow the elbows to flair outwards, instead focussing on the scapula squeezing together so the muscles through the back are activated.
Slowly release back to the starting position whilst keeping good scapula positioning.
Perform 10-12 slow and mindful repetitions and try to fit in at least 3 sets a day.
For more resistance, use a Theraband.
Melbourne Natural Therapies
Exercise For Rounded Shoulders