Do you feel as if you have your shoulders forward and rounded? Do you feel that your range of motion is limited and sometimes painful? This small article tells you what the main causes are and what are the best exercises to correct them.
The “shoulders forward” or, in anatomical terms, the anteposed shoulders (ie anterior inclination followed by an internal rotation of the humerus head) are caused by a postural alteration.
This dysfunction is very present today due to the increase in sedentary lifestyle, the many hours spent in the car, computer work and the great increase in the use of technology such as smartphones, video games, etc. But it is also due to the sum of years of training in the gym or incorrect sport-specific training.
Closed shoulders can lead to aesthetic and psychological discomfort, but above all they can cause dysfunctional shoulder syndromes, which as a consequence result in chronic pain and inflammation of the tissues. A typical example is acromial conflict syndrome.
The main causes of the problem
Muscle changes in the rotator cuff (major shoulder muscles) can lead to this type of problem.
The rotator cuff is composed of internal and external rotator muscles: when there is an imbalance between these, real dysfunctions can arise, such as the attitude of closed shoulders. In the shoulders forward there is the shortening of a certain muscle group with consequent weakening of its antagonists.
To facilitate the understanding of it all, we will divide the muscles into two groups.
The internal rotator muscles and those preceding the shoulder blades are:
- Large and small breastplate;
- Great backbone;
- Brachial biceps;
- Anterior toothed.
The external rotation muscles of the humerus and retractors of the scapula:
- Small round;
- Posterior deltoid rhomboids;
- Middle and lower trapezius.
The muscles mentioned in the first group, if they are shortened and strong, lead to a muscular imbalance with those of the second group, which due to their weakness are unable to pull the shoulder back. In this way the shoulder does not enjoy a good anatomical and functional structure.
In other cases, the opposite can happen: a shoulder can be preceded by a stiffness of the posterior joint capsule and by a retraction of the muscles of the second group. This causes the head of the humerus to be pushed forward by the muscles of the first group (internal rotators).
Dysmorphism (innate, genetic causes, etc.) and paramorphism (hyperkyphosis acquired from postural problems, repeated and psychological attitudes) of dorsal hyperkyphosis can lead to this type of shoulder dysfunction, or vice versa forward shoulders can cause dorsal hyperkyphosis.
10 exercises to open the shoulders
The first exercises we will talk about are those of HEATING, which are fundamental to allow the body temperature to rise and therefore to:
- increase the sensitivity of nerve receptors;
- increase the transmission speed of the nerve impulse;
- reduce the viscosity of the muscle;
- increase blood flow (these are just some of the physiological processes and adaptations that occur thanks to adequate heating).
Below are some specifics of the 10 exercises, but for a better understanding, I refer you to the video at the top of the article.
Circulation of the shoulders with arms stretched downwards, taking care of the scapular execution. The shoulder blades must be adducted when the shoulders move backwards, this allows for good activation of the rhomboid muscles and the posterior deltoid and infraspinatus.
With an outstretched arm, extend upwards with the palm of the hand towards the face and with the opposite arm push on the ribs against the sides. Perform a push and extension at the same time in the expiratory phase.
Same extension movement as exercise n°2 but this time bring the arm up on the frontal plane with the palm facing forward. Always the hand against the side pushes on the ribs in the expiratory phase.
Perform complete circles backwards always placing the arm against the side on the ribs. Inhale in the first extension phase and exhale as bringing the arm back by pushing the ribs down.
Join hands behind the pelvis trying to bring the wrists into contact as close as possible, in the exhalation phase imagine squeezing something between the shoulder blades for the duration of the exhalation.
Using a fixed elastic, grab the two ends, bring the chest out and perform the forearm flexion and arm extension movement, taking care not to neglect the scapular adduction.
Grab a rubber band with both hands with the palm up, bring the chest out and with the elbows pressed to the hips perform an external rotation in the exhalation phase, squeezing the shoulder blades backwards.
Prone position facing the ground, place the arms at 90 ° (candlestick position), in the exhalation phase bring the elbows and shoulder blades upwards towards the center of the back.
Prone position facing the ground, place the arms at 90 ° slightly raised from the ground and in the exhalation phase extend the arms forward.
Prone position facing the ground, perform a movement like the breaststroke style of swimming. Extend the arms forward, then open them outwards and carry them forward. The whole movement must be performed with the palm towards the ground.
The authors of the article are: Giulia Venanzoni (Doctor of motor and sports sciences and specialist in kinesiology) and Gianmarco Stragapede (Physiotherapist and doctor of motor science).
See you at the next post