Best Exercises for Rounded Shoulders That You Can Do At Work

If you’re ready to break out of that hunched position and get some strength training, read on for the best exercises you can do at work for rounded shoulders.

I was going to do this video inside, but it’s a beautiful day, so I headed outside to do this video for you. It’s late fall here, so we’re getting fewer and fewer of these beautiful sunny days.

CLICK HERE to watch the YouTube video.

In this video, I wanted to go through a question I received from Mike on my Exercises for Injuries Facebook fan page. His question was:

“What can I do for rounded shoulders?”.

He works in an office daily, and he has noticed that his shoulders have rounded over time. He wondered what exercises he could do at work while sitting at his desk to counteract those rounded shoulders.

There are three exercises that I recommend:

Best Exercises for Round Shoulders 1. Opening up the collarbones

Cropped-Opening up the collar bone (Front view)

Opening up the collarbones (Front view)

What you are going to do is ensure that you are not rounded out or collapsed while sitting. Rather, focus on sitting nice and tall. I’m opening up my collarbones, relaxing my shoulders, and sitting nice and tall while opening up my chest. I am working on those muscles around the shoulder blades and mid-back. I am looking for a light stretch in the front of the chest, so I am working on stretching the front and strengthening the mid-back area.

With rounded shoulders, what often ends up happening is not only tightness in the front of the chest that rounds the shoulders but also weakness in the scapular muscles or shoulder blade muscles, the mid-back muscles, and the thoracic extensors, which are the muscles in the mid back that extend the spine.

How to Perform

You need to work all three of those by sitting tall and upright, keeping your head, shoulders, and hips in good alignment. Work on those thoracic extensors by opening up your collarbones or stretching the front of your chest, but also work on the shoulder blade muscles and the mid-back muscles. Start with this one, holding for 5 seconds, then relax. After that, a 5-second hold becomes too comfortable, progress to a 10-second hold, then a 15-second hold, and then a 20-second hold.

Before you get to the mid-back tightener, open up your collarbones from the front and the side. It’s just this nice upright hold, opening up the shoulder blades and holding for 5 seconds. Relax, nice and tall, opening up, then relax again.

Cropped-Opening up the collar bone (Side view)

Opening up the collar bone (Side view)

Best Exercises for Round Shoulders 2. Mid Back Tightener

Cropped-Mid Back Tightener (Front view)

Mid Back Tightener (Front view)

I am moving my hands behind my head. I will pull those elbows back, and I will tighten up that mid-back before relaxing. Once again, hold this position for 5 seconds. So, these steps are sitting nice and tall with your hands behind your head, then opening up by bringing the elbows back, tightening up the mid-back and shoulder blade areas, then relaxing.

By bringing your hands behind your head and pulling your elbows back, we are once again stretching out the front of the chest, but now we are also targeting the lat muscles differently, with the arms being in a different position. We’re also targeting those three muscles in the mid-back that we need to work on when it relates to activation, endurance, and strength needed to overcome rounded shoulders.

I’m going through that mid-back tightener from the side. So, nice and tall, hands behind the head, opening up, holding it for 5 seconds, and then relaxing.

Cropped-Mid Back Tightener (Side view)

Mid Back Tightener (Side view)

Best Exercises for Round Shoulders 3. Laced Fingers Over the Head

Once again, this exercise starts with me sitting nice and tall. I’m lacing my fingers together, keeping my arms straight, and lifting my arms overhead and slightly back. Lower your arms back down and repeat the movement.

Cropped-Laced Fingers Over the Head

Laced Fingers Over the Head

We bring the hands overhead for two seconds before lowering them back down. Progress from that to a 5-second hold. With this one, we are lightly stretching the lats area with the arms overhead, but we are working on those thoracic extensors. When we bring in the laced fingers overhead, we work on those scapular muscles through increased ranges of motion in the shoulders. And also, raising the laced fingers overhead, we work the mid-back area.

There you go, Mike, give those three best exercises for rounded shoulders:

  1. Opening up the collarbones
  2. Mid Back Tightener
  3. Laced Fingers Overhead

Give those a go throughout the day and see if it helps to counteract the rounded shoulders by loosening up the front of the chest and working those three groups of muscles in the mid-back.

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Rick Kaselj, MS