Nothing beats sitting in a chair all day at work.
When I used to work in insurance I would sit at my desk for as long I possibly could before getting up to move. Like, I was SO LAZY you guys. I would hold my pee for probably an hour, before forcing myself to get up and go.
I’m gonna blame it on the chair, but I think just the nature of sitting behind a desk really just sucked the ENERGY outta me. I would however, go on lunch time strolls.
Or the Eaton Centre.
Good for my bod, not good for my wallet.
Sitting at a desk all day really messes up your posture.
Having your arms leaning forward on a desk, your shoulders rounding, your lower back in a constant flexed position. Unless you’re incredibly aware of your posture 24/7, it’s sooo easy to get into an ugly desk slump.
There are so many people who sit at a desk for 8 hours a day (maybe you’re one of them!) and your body is paying for it. I’m going to show you 6 different exercises or moves to FIX rounded shoulders. We’re going to start loosening up your chest, strengthening your back, and mobilizing your thoracic (or mid) spine.
6 Moves to Fix Rounded Shoulders
1. Foam Roller Extensions
This is by far one of my favorite new stretches/movements I love to do. I have a very IMMOBILE thoracic spine (which I blame on just being so dang muscular…), so i’m working on creating more mobility within it.
Your t-spine is shown in blue in this image
A stiff thoracic spine can reduce range of motion and cause injuries around your shoulders, as well start to curve your spine. This can eventually lead to rounding of your shoulders and a forward positioning of your head.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Find a foam roller and lay it perpendicular to your spine. Flatten your low back by contracting your abdominal muscles, and bringing your belly button towards your spine.
2. Place your hands gently behind your ears, and lean back slightly (moving ONLY from that mid-spine). Repeat 5-6 times, and then move the roller slightly up the spine and repeat.
3. It’s important that you don’t arch your lower back – think about keeping it flat and your core nice and tight. Avoid letting your rib care flare as you extend backwards.
2. Cat Cow Stretch
I’m sure you’ve done this plenty of times if you’ve ever taken a yoga class, but did you know how useful it is for increasing thoracic mobility?
This is a great exercise to increasing both flexion and extension in your spine and I get the students in my classes to do it all the time.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Start in a tabletop position, knees directly below your hips, hands directly below your shoulders. From here, start to roll your spine up towards the ceiling, getting a good stretch in between your shoulder blades. Contract your core as you perform this movement.
2. Slowly start to bring your spine back to neutral, following it through all the way as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. Really focus on movement through the thoracic spine, instead of letting your lower back/lumbar spine curve too much.
3. Focus on keeping your shoulders relaxed and not shrugging up to your ears. Repeat for 10 reps.
3. Pec Release w Lacrosse Ball
If you’ve never done this before, let me tell you right now – IT’S GONNA HURT. My advice? …Just get over it??
In my 30 Day workout program, I show you several releases that you can do with a lacrosse ball, including this one. I love it.
Sitting at a desk all day forces your pec muscles (chest muscles) to sit in a shortened position and get superrr tight. Not good. This will cause your shoulders to round forward in that hunched position, and again, reduce range of motion and cause injury down the line.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Find a tennis ball (softer to start) or a lacrosse ball (if you’ve done this before) and placing it on a wall. Tuck your arm behind your back, to open up your chest as much as possible.
2. With light pressure, roll the ball around your pecs finding the spots that feel especially tight.
3. I like to roll around just between just below my collarbone and about 2 inches down from that. I usually will roll for about 1 minute on each side, or however long you feel you need.
4. Shoulder Pass Through with Band
This is a favorite of mine when i’m warming up to do any sort of upper body or back workout. It increases range of motion throughout your shoulder joint while opening up your chest. You can perform this exercise with a band, or any sort of light stick (like a broomstick or dowel).
Again, this stretches those tight and shortened pec muscles while increasing your shoulder mobility. If you have very limited ROM in your shoulders, you may find this difficult to do at first. Start by placing your hands as wide as you can on the resistance band, and then slowly moving inwards after you’ve increased flexibility
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Grab any light resistance band or broomstick. Place your hands equal distance apart and hold them straight out in front of you.
2. Keeping your shoulders down and traps relaxed, bring your arms up and over your head, and around your back. Make sure to keep your arms straight as you perform this movement. If you need to, watch yourself in the mirror to ensure you’re not compensating for tightness on one side by leaning or shrugging your shoulders.
5. Underhand Resistance Band Pull Aparts
Now we’re focussing on strengthening the muscles that keep our posture nice and upright! You’ll also find this exercise throughout my 30 Days to Fit program. Resistance band pull aparts are a great way to develop strength in your rear delts – a muscle that gets weakened and underused from sitting at a desk – and your rotator cuff muscles.
By performing these underhanded, you’re able to hit those muscles super effectively and start to develop strength in your upper back. This will allow you to sit with a straighter spine and reduce the rounding of your shoulders.
HOW TO DO IT:
1. Grab a resistance band and hold it with an underhand grip straight in front of you. Keeping your arms straight and your shoulders relaxed, pull the band apart, squeezing between the shoulder blades. You will be looking for a contraction at the back of your shoulders, in the rear delt.
2. Hold for a second at the end, and then slowly release counting to 3 in your head. Repeat for 8-12 reps for 2-3 sets.
6. Resistance Band Y Raises
Another muscle that tends to get weak and underused from sitting at a desk, are your mid and lower traps. We often notice and train our upper traps, but neglect to train the entire muscle.
One of the exercises that I love to do to target my mid and lower traps is the resistance band Y raise. Similar to the pass-through with the band, you will have to ensure that your shoulders are down, and your scapula is pulled down and back. Essentially you want to ensure that the movement is coming from your midback, vs using your upper traps to pull the band above your head.
How to do it:
1. Stand with one foot on the band, with your hands gripping the band facing down. I like to space my hands about hip width apart. From there, keeping your arms straight and shoulders down, lift your arms up in a V shape until they reach the top of your head.
2. In a slow and controlled manner, bring them back down to starting position.
3. You may have to use an even lighter resistance band if you have never done these before. Go for 6-10 reps for 2-3 sets.