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Posture Correction: Chest & Shoulders

Posture Correction: Chest & Shoulders: Understanding Protracting Shoulders  & Common Issues

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Look at the next 10 people you see, chances are they have protracting shoulders. This particular deviation is where your shoulders begin to move forward and extend past your chest. The cause of this deviation is similar to that of forward head syndrome. Tightening of the chest and anterior (front) shoulder muscle groups through overuse or lack of flexibility. This combined with lack of strength in your latissimus dorsi (lats) and the muscle groups in the upper parts of your back will allow the tightened  muscle groups in your chest and shoulders to dominate. The dominance of these tight muscles will begin to pull your shoulders forward, almost towards each other.

Some of the major issues caused by this postural deviation is that it can begin to tighten up the muscle groups in the upper parts of your neck, in particular your platysma. This muscle group connects to your chest muscles, shoulder muscles all the way up the side of your neck and under your chin. This can lead to quicker development of forward head syndrome. Protracting shoulders will also limit the volume of oxygen that you are able to get into your lungs. Strengthening your back muscles and keeping your shoulders rolled back will allow your lungs and chest to open to full capacity. More oxygen will allow your body to function better as well as increase energy levels. Once again, this can put direct pressure on your lower back and knees to do the distribution of weight being pulled forward.

Some simple habits to develop are once again to stretch and strengthen. For the most part, the movements are similar to that of forward head syndrome. Hit up as doorway, hold your hands and arms at 90 degrees and push your chest forward stretching the chest and shoulder muscles, looking up is always encouraged. Once again be aware of the amount of time your spend in positions that will shorten these muscle groups up. When you are done looking at your phone, typing on your computer, driving, riding a bike or any activity that will put your shoulders forward, stand up tall, roll your shoulders back and pick you head up!

Protracting Shoulders-What to look for:

When looking from a side profile,  shoulders are rounded or pulled forward from a tight thoracic cage.

Effects:

  • Pain strikes in neck, shoulders and back
  •  “Ripple effect” protracted shoulder may be direct cause of other postural deviation such as forward head syndrome.
  • Headaches stemming from the base of the head.
  • Direct effect on the respiratory system. Your breathing patterns maybe restricted if your thoracic cage (chest) is tight due to protracting shoulders.

Tight muscle groups:

  • pectoralis major
  • Anterior deltoids

Weak muscles groups:

  • Lower parts of your trapezius
  • Rhomboids

Elevated Shoulders

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A little more uncommon but at the same time a very subtle deviation is elevated shoulders. This postural deviation is where on particular shoulder and trapezius is used more then the other. This causes the trap to shorten along with your sternohyoid, lateral scalene and levator muscles, which are all on the side and back of your neck. The overuse of these muscle groups combined with the lack of strength in the latissimus dorsi (lats) which is a major muscle group under your arm will actually allow your shoulder to raise up higher on once side then the other.

Some of the issues caused by the postural deviation are headaches, backaches and neck strains. There is a lot of blood flow in these particular areas that lead to the brain. When these muscle groups shorten, it can directly lead to subtle interruption of blood flow. I hear people say all the time that they carry so much stress and strain in the shoulders and necks, this is because we do not allow ourself to relax these muscle groups. Even now, reading this. take a deep breath and relax your shoulders. They probably dropped down a level.

Some simple habits to develop are as usual stretch and strengthen. For both sides, place your hand in the center of your back,drop one shoulder and pull your ear to the opposite shoulder. Example, reach your right hand to the center of your back, then lean your head and pull your left ear to your left shoulder. Once again relax and breath. Also, be aware of the way you drive. A lot of people like to slouch to one side and drive with one hand up. Ladies, try to switch which shoulder you place your purse on and balance between the two. Get a bluetooth and never hold your phone between your shoulder and your ear. You also want to strengthen up your lats, this will actually help pull your shoulder down. Some simple pull down movements will do.

Elevated Shoulders- What to look for:

When looking from behind, one shoulder will be slightly raised up higher than the other.

Effects:

  • Over use muscle contraction of the trapezoid, causes the muscle to shorten.
  • Pain in neck and back
  • Block circulation
  • Increased headaches

Tight Muscle Groups:

  • Trapezius

Weak Muscles Groups:

  • Serratus anterior
  • Latissimus dorsi  
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