The position of the shoulders depends on the location and work of your muscles, ligaments and bones.
When the shoulders are aligned, the body is at ease and more efficient. Good shoulder posture contributes to the stability and balance in the body.
What is shoulder posture?
Shoulder posture is maintained when the spine is aligned correctly. It essentially means that your shoulders should align with your back and over your hips while maintaining the curvature of the spine.
It involves maintaining a position of stability of the chest, back and core with an in-tucked tailbone and strong muscular stability that enables you to stand upright with firm shoulders.
Conscious effort to adopt standing and sitting postures while maintaining the strength of the chest and back muscles keeps the shoulders aligned with the hips.
Good shoulder posture is part of posture overall and it means that besides the shoulder no other body parts are stressed.
Good shoulder posture is when in an upright position with your arms by your side, your thumbs are in a parallel position to each other. Alternatively, from a side profile, good shoulder posture is cheekbone and collarbone alignment.
Why good shoulder posture is important
Here some key points why shoulder posture is important –
Prevents health problems
Poor shoulder posture can prevent other related inevitable bad postural habits. Good shoulder posture keeps the shoulder strong and protected from injury.
Holding your shoulders in an ideal position results in better breathing patterns which then benefits other areas of the body.
Proper shoulder posture can enhance our range of movement and flexibility. Good shoulder posture while working can increase our levels of focus and improve efficiency.
Physically more attractive
A slouched posture with bad shoulder alignment is not sharp and attractive. Bad shoulder posture can affect other areas of the body causing further misalignment.
For women, especially incorrect shoulder posture can cause breasts to sag. Proper shoulder posture makes clothes fit better making you more attractive.
Studies have proven that overall body balance and posture have a definite result on observed attractiveness.
People with aligned shoulders appear fitter and more confident and physically holding your shoulders in an ideal position works on the body’s internal processes to increase self-confidence.
Reasons for bad shoulder posture
Permanently holding your shoulders in misalignment can be caused by a combination many of factors.
Prolonged periods of sitting
Modern lifestyle brings with it prolonged hours of sitting at work, during a commute, in front of the TV or while using our phones and other gadgets.
This kind of inactivity causes us to get comfortable in incorrect postures, for example constantly being on the phone can cause a forward tilted head, an overly stretched neck and bent upper back.
While we continue with these incorrect positions, our chest muscles get tense and smaller. This causes shoulder muscles to weaken and lengthen causing a poor shoulder position, pain and other related problems.
Besides adopting incorrect postures while sitting, the placement of your chair and desk are equally to blame.
If the height of your chair and desk are incorrect, it could lead to slouching and rounded shoulders.
The height of your monitor could cause neck problems which ultimately lead to poor shoulder posture.
Wrong exercises and heavy bags
Excessive weightlifting, leads to muscular disparity which in turn causes a bend in the upper back and curved shoulders. When you overwork your chest muscles and don’t focus on the back, the weight causes a forward bend and rounded shoulders.
People who carry heavy bag packs constantly on one shoulder develop poor shoulder posture. This ends up in one shoulder positioned higher than the other.
Research has demonstrated that boys that carried heavy backpacks had a forward head posture, rounded shoulder posture and side tilt in the shoulders.
Female body type and motherhood
Teenage girls who find breast development awkward experience and start to stoop, causing poor shoulder posture.
Bigger breast size in women may cause a forward bend and hunch over shoulders due to the weight on the chest and back.
During pregnancy, a woman’s stomach weighs her down causing the shoulders to cave in. After pregnancy, the rounded shoulders stay on or worsen from the position of breastfeeding and by carrying the infant.
We must maintain alignment even while sleeping to prevent postural problems. Sometimes an uncomfortable mattress may place a strain on the shoulders. This could cause pain and postural shifts to compensate for the pain.
Health problems caused due to wrong shoulder posture
A wrong posture can cause lots of severe and long-term health issues –
Problems in adjacent areas.
Poor shoulder posture causes an imbalance to the surrounding areas of the neck and head. This causes the head which is around 10lbs in weight to bend forward and the muscles to overcompensate.
The muscles in the neck, shoulders, back and chest then work harder to maintain equilibrium leading to further postural problems and pain.
This pain and stress around the shoulders and neck could lead to headaches, joint and nerve problems.
Long-term postural problems in the shoulder can affect and increase the load on the bones, joints and cartilage that could lead to spinal deterioration.
This kind of degeneration of the spine can be permanent and cause possible mobility issues and problems standing upright.
Long-term rounded shoulders can constrict the chest area from performing its functions.
Since rounded shoulders can cause upper back problems, it further affects the lungs and the diaphragm that are located around this area.
People with poor shoulder and corresponding upper back postures have compressed ribs that find it hard to expand to full capacity and promote adequate breathing. Inadequate breathing patterns can affect metabolism and other areas of your life.
Problems with the nerves
Poor shoulder posture from prolonged hours of sitting can result in nerve damage and pain.
With a limited range of mobility rounded shoulders make the nerves within the carpal tunnel more vulnerable to injury and move other joints out of position.
This reduced nerve function, movement of other joints, reduced blood supply cause upper back problems and pain.
The shoulders are delicate and easily affected by improper posture.
Awareness of posture while sitting and making an effort to correct it can prevent shoulder problems. Stretching and exercise can protect the muscles to support the shoulders and improve posture.
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