4 Key Exercises To Help Rounded Shoulder Posture

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Band Stretch : Starting Position - Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Best Toronto Chiropractor

What are the 4 key exercises to help rounded shoulder posture?


Do you have rounded shoulder posture from weight lifting or sitting at your desk too long?


Is your rounded shoulder giving you neck pain, headaches or upper back pain?


Sitting all day and weightlifting create a surprising shared problem.  Weightlifters love to work on their chest muscles as that is the most visible feature when they look in the mirror. While most weightlifters exercise their back muscles, my experience from observation at the gym and at the clinic of the patients that I treat is clear.


Overwhelmingly, weightlifters create an imbalance of muscles that make the chest muscles stronger with weak back muscles. The back muscles may be strong, but in comparison to the chest, the back muscles are much weaker.


Surprisingly, sitting jobs cause the same problems that weightlifters have without weightlifting. Sitting all day in your job causes many people to lean forward with their shoulders and head. The chest muscles tighten up and stay tight and locked and prevent the back and shoulder muscles from moving your shoulders back.


This imbalance is the key problem that many people have with rounded shoulders. The more rounded your shoulders the more your upper back starts to curve forward. This worsening posture eventually leads to pain in the neck, upper back, shoulders and headaches.


Whether you are a weightlifter or a have a sitting job the problem is the muscle imbalance. The problem is the pectoralis major and minor are too tight bringing your shoulder forward. The muscles that are too weak are the rhomboids, serratus posterior superior, middle trapezius, infraspinatus, and teres minor muscles.


If you are a weight lifter and sit all day at a desk you have a double problem and these exercises even more important to you.


Here are the exercises that will stretch the chest muscles and strengthen the relevant back and shoulder muscles.


Exercise #1 Theraband Pull Aparts:

Band Stretch : Starting Position - Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Best Toronto Chiropractor

Band Stretch : Starting Position - Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Best Toronto Chiropractor

  • Take a band and hold it out at shoulder height in front of you a little wider than shoulder width.
  • Start with your thumbs pointed in.
  • Pull your band apart keeping your arms horizontal so both arms are at slightly below shoulder height with your thumb pointing backwards going back as far as possible
  • Pretend that you are squeezing a pen between your shoulder blades.
  • Your body should be in the shape of a cross.
  • 50 reps every day but start with 10 to begin with.


Exercise #2 Wall Slides

Wall Press Exercise: Starting Position - Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Best Toronto ChiropractorWall Press Exercise: Finishing Position - Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Best Toronto Chiropractor


Wall Slide exercises are the hardest of the exercises in this article to do properly. Even though I know how to do the exercises there are minor problems with the picture shown above. See if you can spot them after the explanation below.

  • Stand against the wall with your butt, upper back and head against the wall.
  • Get your elbows and your wrist against the wall.
  • If your wrists do not touch the wall flat widen the arms outward.
  • If your chin comes out tuck your chin in.
  • Tighten your abs and chest
  • Breath in while raising your arms up while pushing against the wall.
  • Breath out and bring your arms down.
  • You should end with the arms in the shape of a Y

If your hands come off the wall your feet need to go forward away from the wall.

Only do the exercise in the position that keeps all of the contacts like the butt, midback, head, elbow and wrists against the wall.

You can now probably see my error. I am not quite putting my wrist against the wall in the first picture above. This is a common error.


Exercise #3 Pec Major Stretch

Pectoralis Major Stretch - Chest Stretch - Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Best Toronto ChiropractorPectoralis Major Stretch Higher Arm Position- Chest Stretch - Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Best Toronto Chiropractor

This exercise helps you stretch the pectoralis major muscle and the pec minor to a degree.

  • Your feet and face are parallel to the wall.
  • Bring your arm behind you on the wall like in the picture on the left.
  • Your Arm is at shoulder height or above.
  • You can turn your feet slightly away from the wall or bend your knees slightly to feel more a stretch.
  • Stretch gently for 30 sec and do both sides.

The 2nd picture shows the arm at a horizontal level and the third picture shows the arm higher above the head. Both positions will help stretch out the different parts of the pectoralis major.


Exercise #4 High rows at eye level with Shoulder External Rotation

High Rows With External Rotation Starting Position: Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Toronto Chiropractor BestHigh Rows With External Rotation: Dr Ken Nakamura Downtown Toronto Chiropractor | Toronto Chiropractor Best

This exercise helps you strengthen the muscles that pull your shoulder blades together like the rhomboid and also muscles that help externally rotate the arm like the teres minor and infraspinatus. Try and spot the common mistake in the picture above that most people make.

  • Put your resistance band against a sturdy object.
  • Pull the band at the same level as your eyes.
  • Keep your abs and butt tight and stand straight without moving or arching your back.
  • Pull the band to the same level as your eyes and externally rotate your shoulders.
  • Tighten your core and keep your back straight.
  • Do 50 reps or until you feel burning in the middle of your back between the shoulder blades.

Did you see the errors in the picture? I should not be leaning back. You can see the arch in the lower back. Also, the band is a little high when I pulled back, but they should be eye level. These are common problems that can easily be corrected when you do the exercise.


Send me pictures of you doing the exercises correctly and I will post them and make you famous.


Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. This Toronto Downtown Chiropractor will answer all questions in the comments section


Dr Ken Nakamura

2 Responses to 4 Key Exercises To Help Rounded Shoulder Posture
  • Bilkiss says:
    December 9, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Dr Ken
    I’m so impressed with your articles. Absoloutely informative..
    My husband has both rounded shoulders as well as a curved lower spine..

    I feel like he is getting shorter? Is this caused by the spine arching ?
    What can he do to lengthen his upper body..

    Thank you for your advice.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      December 10, 2017 at 8:57 am

      Thanks for your question Bilkiss. Shorter husband syndrome? Well, yes it’s possible that the curved lower spine or increased arch in the lower back due to a weakening of his core muscles are the problems. Or it can be degenerative changes in his spine. Often the discs get smaller as we age, so we start to lose height. You can’t help if it’s due to the wear and tear or osteoarthritis. If the shorter husband syndrome is due to his posture I would do these exercises in addition to the ones in this article.


      The above is an opinion and not a recommendation. If you have any more questions for this little downtown chiropractor in Toronto I will do my best to help out.

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