A Fix for Slouching Shoulders
The science textbook I was taught from in elementary school had an illustration of the evolution of mankind. You’ve likely seen it. From left to right it began with a monkey walking on all fours, followed by an ape up on his hind legs, next came “Neanderthal man” (with hunched shoulders and a forward-held head) and finally, modern man—fully upright with shoulders squared and head held high.
Well, if that graphic is supposed to represent the evolutionary process*, then judging by most people’s posture these days, I’d say that man- and woman-kind is “de-evolving”!
Many of my patients suffer from physical problems (i.e. back, neck or head pain) simply because they’ve spent much of their time slouched, slumped, or hunched forward.
The problem with standing and sitting with your shoulders in a rounded position is that, over time, your pectoral muscles (located on the front of your chest wall) will shorten. When your “pects” lose their extensibility, you will physically lose the muscle length needed to straighten up! As a result, the bones, discs and joints in your spine will begin to degenerate due to the abnormal position they’ve been forced to maintain.
So if you try to roll your shoulders into a “down and back” position and feel a degree of difficulty getting them there, or you experience an outright pulling sensation across your chest, then boy, do I have a stretch for you!
Pectoral Major Muscle Stretch
Place the palm-side of your forearm against a door jam or on the corner of a wall with your elbow at nearly the height of your shoulder. Stagger your legs so that the leg closest to the door/wall is a full step in front of the other leg. Now bend that front knee and lean/lunge forward until you develop a moderate stretch in the chest area of your raised arm.
Hold for 30 seconds, each side. Repeat 2-5 times / day.
Maintain the gains made in muscle length by gently drawing your shoulder blades down and back towards the pockets of your pants. Your head and neck will follow suit and your slouchy posture will become a thing of the past!