How to fix Rounded shoulders

qasiAs a physiotherapist, Rounded shoulders is one of the most common postural problems that I see with my patients.

… and yet, it is so easy to fix!

Rounded shoulders WILL LEAD TO BAD POSTURE! …

Not perhaps… Not maybe… It WILL.

(… and if you care anything about your posture, this is a post that you must not miss out on!)


What this article will cover:

// What are Rounded shoulders?

rounded shoulders

Simply put… It’s part of your bad posture!

Having Rounded shoulders is when the resting shoulder position has moved forward from it’s ideal alignment. (see picture above)

For those who like those anatomical big words – it involves scapula protraction/anterior tilt/elevation, anterior translation of the humeral head and/or internal rotation of the humerus.



// What are the causes?


Rounder shoulders are part of a bigger problem… and that is bad posture.

Your posture becomes the shape you decide to position your body throughout the day.

Hands up if you do any of these tasks:

  • Sit down all day
  • Use the computer/laptop
  • Use a smart phone/tablet
  • Look down for prolonged periods
  • Drive
  • Bend, lift or carry
  • Sleep on your side

I am willing to bet that you have rounded shoulders in most (…if not all) of these positions! … Am I right?

These positions you adopt throughout the day disrupts the normal balance of muscular activity that is responsible for maintaining your ideal posture.



// What’s happening with the muscles?

upper cross syndome

In Rounded shoulders, there are:

a) Tight muscles:

These muscles are PULLING the shoulders forward.

  • Pec major/minor
  • Subscapularis
  • Latissimus dorsi
  • Anterior deltoid
  • Biceps
  • Posterior capsule (pushes humeral head forward)
  • Upper trapezius
  • Serratus anterior

b) Weak muscles:

These muscles ARE NOT pulling the shoulder backwards. (as they should be!)

  • Mid/lower trapezius
  • Rhomboids
  • Posterior deltoid
  • Rotator cuff

Think about it this way. There’s a tug-of-war battle between the muscles at the front and back of the shoulders… And the wrong team is winning!



// Common painful regions


Yes, I know… It’s pretty much the whole back!



// Test to determine if you have Rounded shoulders


a) Position of palms in standing:


Stand up. Keep your arms relaxed by your side.

Have a quick glance at your hands.

… Which way are your palms facing?

You may have Rounded shoulders if…: Your palms are facing behind you.


b) Lying down test:

rounded shoulders floor test

Lie down with your back flat against the floor and arms by your side.

Do the back of you shoulders naturally rest on the floor? Or do they appear to be floating forward?

DON’T CHEAT! Make sure that you are not ARCHING your lower back!

You may have Rounded shoulders if…: Your shoulders do not come in contact with the floor.



// What is the correct shoulder position?

Let me teach you how to quickly re-set the position of your shoulders.

shoulder position reset

  • Reach out your hands as far to the side as possible. (see above)
  • Slightly bring your arms backwards
    • Make sure you can feel a gentle contraction between your shoulder blades
  • Turn your palms upwards
  • Take note of your shoulder position. Keep this position! And gently lower your arms by your side.


Is your work station causing you to have bad posture? Check out my FREE ebook – How to set up your workstation.

How to fix your Rounded shoulders

What is expected of you:

// Dedicate a solid 20-30 minutes doing these exercises. Don’t rush through it. Take your time. It’s not a race. You may need to spend more time on the more challenging exercises.

// Commit to these shoulder exercises for a frequency of twice a week. It’ll take as long as it will take.  And that’s fine. 

Mark Wong

Note: These exercises are designed to be gentle and should not aggravate your pain. If any doubts, consult your health practitioner prior to commencing these exercises. Or… You can just contact me and I’ll try my best to help  you out!

Quick navigation:

  1. Releases
  2. Stretches
  3. Mobilisations
  4. Strengthening/Endurance

1. Releases

Tight structures will keep the shoulders in the forward rounded position. It is important that these tight structures are released to enable the shoulders to be re-positioned correctly.

// What you’ll need: A massage ball.

// How to perform release:

  • Place the ball on the target area.
  • Use your body weight to press into the ball.
  • Circle around any areas of tightness.
    • If it hurts… you are probably on the right area!
  • Spend 1-2 minutes on each area.
    • … or as long as you need to loosen it up
  • Note: Some of these spot are going to be real tender when you start to do the releases. Don’t hold your breath! Make sure you can breathe comfortably throughout. If you find that you need to hold your breath, back off on the pressure being applied.


// Target areas:

a) Pec major/minor:

Video from RehabMyPatient


b) Front shoulder:

  • Anterior capsule, Anterior deltoid, Long head biceps, Subscapularis

Video from PowerTubePro


c) Latissimus dorsi:

Video from RehabMyPatient


d)  Posterior deltoid/capsule:

Video from PowerTubePro


e) Between the shoulder blades:

Video from PowerTubePro

f) Serratus Anterior:

latfoamserratus anterior



2. Shoulder stretches

Hold for 30-60 seconds each. Make sure you feel the stretch where you are meant to feel it.

Note: Stretching is all about a game of angles. If you can’t feel a stretch, then you probably aren’t doing a whole lot of stretching. Move around the stretch. Find that magic position where you feel a deep stretch.

a) Chest stretch

Chest stretch


  • Place both hands on the door frame. (see above)
  • Lunge forward.
  • You should feel a stretch in the front part of your shoulder/chest region.

b) Posterior (back) stretch

posterior capsule stretch


  • Place your arm across your body.
  • Using the other arm, pull the arm being stretched across the body.
  • You should feel a stretch at the back of your shoulder.
  • Repeat on other side.

c) Lateral (side) stretch



  • Whilst holding onto something, assume the position as above.
  • You should feel a stretch on the side of your body.
  • Repeat on other side.

d) Front shoulder stretch

Front shoulder stretch


  • With both hands on a bench, let your body sink down as low as possible. (see above)
  • Keep your shoulder blades squeezed together.
  • Keep your elbows in. Don’t let them flare out.
  • You should feel a stretch at the front of your shoulders.

e) Upper limb fascial/nerve stretch:

ULTT stretches


  • Place your palm (facing down) onto a wall.
  • Keep your arm completely straight.
  • Tilt your head to the opposite side.
  • You may feel the stretch in the fingers, forearm, bicep and/or side neck region.
  • Repeat on other side.

f) Upper trapezius stretch

neck side stretch


  • Tilt  your head to the side.
  • To increase stretch: Place your hand on the side of your head. Pull the head further to the side.


3. Shoulder mobilisation

a) Hand behind back

hbb retraction


  • Place both hands behind your back. (see above)
  • Hold onto your hand/wrist.
  • Gentle pull your should blades together.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat at least 5 times.


b) External rotation in supine


  • (Watch video)

c) Flexion + External rotation with pipe


  • Grab onto a long object. With both hands, grip as far apart as possible. (with palms facing you)
  • Kneel in front of a bench. Whilst maintaining grip, place elbows on bench and squeeze them together.
  • Lean body forward.
  • If possible – straighten your arms in this position.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds.

d) Thoracic extension

Thoracic extension


  • Position yourself over a foam roller. (see above)
  • Arch backwards.
  • Make sure you do not flare your lower rib cage out.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat at least 5 times.

4. Strengthening

Congratulations! If you have completed the above exercises, your shoulders should be feeling much more flexible.

But this is only half of the journey… Having the flexibility in your shoulder merely allows the potential to have them in a better position. The real question is: Can you make sure they stay in the correct position?

*** READ THIS ***: All of the exercises below will require you to maintain this contraction throughout. Learn this movement FIRST! ***

Scapula retraction/Posterior tilt



  • Pull your shoulder blades BACK and DOWN.
  • Feel the contraction between the mid to lower portion between the shoulder blades.
  • Aim to relax every other muscle.
  • Do NOT over squeeze your shoulder blades together!

Make sure that you FEEL the contraction. It is not simply just about the movement.

a) Elbows flares

elbow flares


  • Place both hands (elbows forward) on the sides of your head. (see Start position)
  • Bring your elbows all the back. (see End position)
  • Perform Scapula retraction/Posterior tilt whilst pulling elbows backwards.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.


b) Wall press and squeeze

wall squeeze


  • Place both hands high up on a wall in front of you.
  • Lean firmly into your hands.
  • Perform Scapula retraction/Posterior tilt.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.

c) Prone arm circles

arm circles


  • Support your chest on a stool. (as to keep your body parallel with the floor)
  • Place your hands out to the side. (see above)
  • Perform Scapula retraction/Posterior tilt throughout exercise.
  • Draw circles in a backwards direction whilst in this position.
  • Hold for 30-60 seconds.


d) Prone angel

horizontal retraction


  • Support your chest on a stool. (as to keep your body parallel with the floor)
  • Place your arms in the ‘W’ starting position.
  • Transition to ‘I’ position.
  • Remember to perform Scapula retraction/Posterior tilt throughout all movements.
  • 10 repetitions.

e) Wall angel

angel 1angel 2


  • Stand with your back to a wall.
  • Keep your back and arms pulled backwards as to remain in contact with the wall throughout movements.
  • Place your arms in the ‘W’ starting position.
  • Transition to ‘I’ position.
  • Remember to perform Scapula retraction/Posterior tilt throughout all movements.
  • 10 repetitions.



// Other areas to consider

Rounded shoulders is commonly linked with other postural issues.

Consider addressing these areas to completely optimise your posture!

What to do next…

1. Any questions?… Leave me a comment down below.

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the exercises!


I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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265 thoughts on “How to fix Rounded shoulders

  1. Hi Mark,

    Really great post, thanks for taking the rind to put it together. I have had various problem with the left side of my neck / right hip and only now do I see a lot of these problems come from my rounded shoulders.

    Any tips / pointers you can give regarding sleeping on your side? My posture at my desk is easier control but I know I really curl my shoulders in when I’m sleeping.



    1. Hey Dee!

      Sleeping posture is a tough one.

      You can start in a good position, but who knows how we move around we are asleep?

      I like to encourage people to sleep on their back as this promotes the most symmetry of the body. You can still sleep on the side, but I would recommend use pillows to help support your body.

      Check out this post: Best sleeping position.


  2. Hi Mark,

    is there anything you can recommend during the 8hrs or so sitting behind a desk. I get up and stretch and walk around. My shoulders def. curl forward and I carry alot of tension in my upper shoulders and neck. I m seeing an acupuncturist it helps but when he does manual massage he says the shoulders are both extremely tight and it aches but afterwards helps. How can I do my part while at work. I catch myself sitting straight up but leaning forward towards my computer all the time.

  3. Hello Mark,
    I’m 10 years old and lately I notice when I look directly in the mirror my head is tilted to the left and my right shoulder sits lower than my left. It feels as though I have a kink in my neck and I keep on jutting out my chin to try and put it back in position. I’ve tried your stretches and it seems to help a little but is there another way to straighten out My neck and return my shoulders back to normal? Thanks heaps


      1. Thank you 😊 Mark
        Although I find that the sights you gave me are not proving any visual difference but your ’rounded shoulders’ sight is seeming to help. I think I’ll just stick to that.
        Thanks again,

    1. Hi Mark,
      My son had the same thing. I took him to an orthospinologist (cervical chiropractor) and discovered his atlas was rotated and tilted, so the rest of his body was being affected. After his first adjustment, his body came back into alignment. He also suffered migraines for years from the forward neck and tilt of his neck. He looks and feels great now.

      Please search for “orthospinology doctors near me.” Don’t waste time and money on any other type chiropractor. I know from my own experience. I sincerely hope you get the help you need.

      Jodi A

  4. Hello Mark,

    I am looking forward to applying your suggested technics to correct my rounded shoulders although I was wondering if I should skip the anterior shoulder stretch if the movement is very awkward on my articulations. (Some minor pain and quite uncomfortable feeling in the articulation of my shoulders, as if they could dislocate)…Same discomfort with an external shoulder rotation with my arm held horizontally.

    Also, I have practiced and understood the isolation of the scapular squeeze movement and included a rubber band to work my rotator muscles. Unless I focus a lot, it is hard to prevent my sternum (chest) going up. Is this a compensation to the movement? If so, is there a trick to prevent it (I have an arched back, figured it could be my weak abdominal muscles responsible for this).

    I know this might be too much information to ask, but I wish do to the exercises correctly in order to get a better posture (and not hurt myself at the gym)

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Michel,

      If it is painful, feel free to leave it for now. But – you might want to further investigate as to WHY it feels very awkward in the first place. You may have limited range of motion in that plane.

      You are correct when it is likely weak abdominal muscles that is probably causing your sternum to rise (aka rib flare). Check out this post to help you out on this issue.


  5. Hey Mark,
    Thank you for the blog, I will be adding these on my daily work out routine, would you also suggest and dumbbell exercise for stronger trap and rotator cuffs ?
    Thank you,

  6. Hi Mark, great post. I have rounded shoulders as well and plan to do these exercises 2-3 times per week. Is it OK to supplement these exercise with a normal push/pull workout routine on the other days of the week? Or will the other workout hinder the progress from the rounded shoulder fix routine?


    1. Hey Mark with a C,

      It is perfectly fine to do your normal work out routine on top of these exercises.

      Just make sure you keep your shoulders in that neutral zone.


  7. It all started with my hand feeling weak and stiff, went to the doctor turned out to be a pinched nerve in my neck. I don’t know if it was the right diagnosis because i had no MRI done, so the doctor just assumed. That freaked me out, so I started to panic, thought something was terribly wrong with me so lo that gave me more anxiety. Etc. that actually made my pin worse and stared to develop aches and pains all over my body mostly( upper back, lower back tightness, tight hamstrings, calves, adducturs won’t relax they’re just contracting. Every time I try to start exercising again I wake up the next morning with more aches and pains but feels like my muscles just tightened up even more. It’s like a cycle, the more I worry about my symptoms the worse it gets. I went to the chiropractor and they said I had a reversed curve on my neck due to bad posture thoroughout the years, but my disc still look healthy. Could this be causing all my symptoms?

  8. Hi Mark!
    I have had rounded shoulders for quite some time- and have always had moderate back pain up to some degree. I am very active. Throughout high school, I did competitive cheer leading(hurt my back more), as well as cross country and track. Currently in college and still running competitively and I read recently that rounded shoulders while running creates even more problems. I do have shoulder pain while running sometimes and collarbone pain (not sure if that relates-I did break my top rib back in high school years ago).
    I also suffer with scoliosis- a double curve. Not enough to have needed surgery but enough to cause enough pain. This also causes me to have a higher hip (and tilted pelvis), as well as lowered arches.
    I saw in one of your replies how the pelvis position can cause rounded shoulders. What should I focus on treating first? I know I need to fix multiple things/imbalances. I also go to the gym frequently and am trying to focus on strengthening my upper back and shoulder muscles. I’m thinking I should try at least doing your rounded shoulder exercises before going to the gym.
    Thanks for reading all this and for your reply!

    1. Hi Abby,

      Since you have pain at the back/shoulder region, I would say start with the exercises mentioned in this post. The exercises should help with your pain as well!

      But ultimately, you will need to address the other remaining postural deviations.

      I currently do not have a scoliosis blog post yet, but here is one for your lateral pelvic tilt.


  9. Hello,
    I am 18 and I have had a stiff neck (that pops a lot) and some tightness in shoulders for around 2 years which started due to a stressful time. At first I used to get an annoying feeling in the upper back that i could not pinpoint to a specific region and it would stay throughout the day. I started stretching at home which has improved the situation, however whenever I go through a prolonged period of working hard and having to use the laptop I get uncomfortable and tighter than usual.
    I think I have slightly rounded shoulders and that is causing tightness in the neck muscles especially the points at the base of the neck (I don’t seem to have a markedly forward neck), which is aggravated by poor seating at the laptop and weakness of back muscles. I have a normal range of motion of the neck, but when I am stretching and looking up or to the side, I feel discomfort and tightness of the muscles at the base of the neck connecting to the shoulders. So, I want to soon start weightlifting while supervised by a professional (and targeting my pull, not push muscles), while continuing my stretches to strengthen my back muscles significantly.
    Does this seem safe? Because I have so far tried to rely on stretching and aerobic exercise and that has only gotten me so far. I feel like weightlifting and building and strengthening muscle would help support my neck and free my shoulders.

    1. Hi Christina,

      I haven’t seen you in person, however, it sounds like you may be kinking your neck upwards at the cervicothoracic junction (see below)

      Do you have this? –> Dowwager’s hump

      You can do weight lifting, but try to keep your neck/head in a neutral position. “Keep chin slightly lowered towards the chest”


    2. hello sir make a video channel youtbe and strip for science and explain us how to do posterior time backward tilt etc and now to engage serratus anterior and lower traps etc…..

  10. Hello, Mark.

    I have rounded shoulders, the forward neck problema and lordosis (no need for surgery and I can hide it if I stand up straight but definitely I have this problems). I’d like to know… which problem should I attack first? Which one should be the top priority.

    Your content is amazing and I’d love to start right away.

    Thank you for your time!

    1. Hey George,

      In regards to where to start?

      It goes back to the question of which came first… the chicken or the egg?

      Generally speaking – You will need to start on the area that is most likely causing the other areas to compensate. (ie. is the forward head causing the rounded shoulders or vice versa?)

      I like to start with the area where these is pain. With this way, you should see some immediate effects of the exercises.


      Ps. Don’t get too caught up on which one to prioritize. Just start!

      1. Thank you for your quick response! It’s great to have this material available for free thanks to you. I’ll follow our advice and start asap.

        Again, Thank You.

        – George

  11. Hi Mark,
    I just came across your blog and am feeling a little more hopeful that I, myself, can fix my problems. I have been to countless physiotherapists over the last 26 months and all it has resulted in is money down the drain and no change in pain.
    I am 30 yrs old and had a fall when I was 9 months pregnant and 10kg heavier (64kgs). I had quickly turned around and my slippers (with a slight heel) slipped and I fell flat on my side. After giving birth, I then walked my daughter to sleep for 15months and now have shoulder pain. I have been diagnosed with the following:
    – right anterior hip posture, over active deep pelvic and external hip rotators complicated by glut max, medius tendinopathy and inhibition of these muscles.
    – stiffness and right rotation of mid thoracic spine with T5-9 ribs stuck in expiration
    – medial winging of right scapular (shoulder elevated and protracted – tendons in tact)
    – significant incompetence through right sacroiliac joint with right upslip, compensatory spasm through deep hip external rotators
    – compensatory stffness and right rotation of right low lumbar spine with poor deep muscle activity.
    If possible and applicable, could you please list name (no details needed, I will do the research) exercises that will help with the above?
    My quality of life has been dramatically and negatively impacted which in turn is straining my family. With no avail from physiotherapists and I have been seeing “the best”, supposedly, I am thinking of finding myself a personal trainer and providing them with a list of exercised to ensure that I am doing them correctly. I am more than willing to train everyday and multiple times if need be.
    Your thoughts and expertise would be greatly appreciated and it really is selfless of you to take the time to share your expertise. I wish you the very best and wish I was a local!
    I look forward to your reply and sincerely hope that you can offer me some guidance and further hope.
    Kindest Regards,

  12. Hi Mark
    I am having hard times hitting my lats in gym, I think it is caused by rounded shoulders. Is it possible? And should I continue on my training programm? Actually I am focusing on upper/lower traps and skipping chest and front delts.

    1. Hey Filip,

      If you can’t feel your lats during a work, try some of these suggestions:
      – Lower the weight so that you can focus on contracting your lats.
      – Think about pulling the weight with your elbows and not so much the hands.
      – Pull more so with a bias towards your pinky finger.
      – Perform a lat spread as you do lat exercises.
      – Keep your shoulders in a neutral position.


  13. Hi Mark! I think I have rounded shoulders and I tried out that thing to “quickly re-set the position of your shoulders.” I didn’t even hold it for so long and the veins on my right arm started to pop out a lot and I could feel it. What’s wrong? Or is it that bad?

    1. Hey Ax,

      That doesn’t sound normal!

      One thing that immediately pops into my head is something called Thoracic outlet syndrome. This is where your blood vessels/nerves can get a bit squashed in the shoulder/neck region when you lift your arm up.


  14. Hi mark,i have problem with my back.i had brace when i was 17 and i use it for a year,but nothing changes. now i have a vary bad posture in my back !i have rounded shoulder and i have khyphosis too.i want to start swimming (butterfly) and after that i want to playing tennis (3 times a week) for about 9 months.does kt make any chane?are those exercises good?when i use this exercises i will be good for rest of my life?or if i quit problems will get back?!
    tnx for ur answers

    1. Hi there,

      I am not a huge fan of posture braces that are used over a long period of time.

      (More often than not, they make your posture muscles even weaker/lazier!)

      These exercise performed consistently will help out with your Rounded shoulders issue.

      In regards to your thoracic kyphosis, check out this post here.


  15. Hi mark,
    ihave problem by my back a lot ! when i was 17 use brace for a year but it doesnt make any big change in my position!now im 22 year old and my back looks like badly and i am so sad for this problem!you know?!
    i thing i have a round shoulder but not havine a kyphosis because when i make my shoulder back my position in the back gets right!but i dont know how to diffrentiate between kyphosis and rounded shuder?can you help me in this ?
    i have seen in the internet that khyposis cant change in old but rounded shoulder can cure,is it right?
    if i want to exercise in 9 months (3 times a week) does it cure for all of my life or it will be good when im exercising?!
    i want start my swimming and im going to learning butterfly in swimming does good for my psture?
    or tennis id better?
    thanks for your answers

  16. Hi Mark,
    I workout rigorously at the gym with heavy weights.
    So is it possible it is hampering my posture (rounded shoulder) much?
    Would you recommend me to consult a physiotheapist? Or should I try doing your exercises? If yes for exercises, then for how long?kindly revert back 😊

    1. Hi Ankita,

      This is the issue with the gym:

      Although you may be getting stronger, you are likely getting stronger in your wrong posture.

      Try to prioritize these exercises first. Keep a neutral posture as possible whilst training.

      And if you are not progressing, definitely go see a physio.


  17. Hello Mark,

    Just about to start these exercises. Thank you for taking the time to create this resource.

    I have a quick question – how many and which type of massage ball will I need? Looks like two plain and two spiky – do they come in different sizes?

    Thank you.

    1. Hey Sarah,

      Honestly – one lacrosse massage ball will do 🙂

      They are like less than 3 dollars or something!

      The spikey and smooth balls do essentially the same thing. I prefer the smooth texture though as it allows you to apply a lot more pressure through to the muscle.


  18. Hi Mark,
    I’m an athlete at the age of 15, and I am very active and etc. But I was addicted to video games at one point, resulting in rounded shoulders and that didn’t allow me to do well during taekwondo and other sports. Would you recommend me to check out with a physiotherapist or just try to do it on my own on your website. Because this could possibly be my future in hands. Thanks, Josh

    1. Hi Josh,

      You can try out these exercises out first for a couple of weeks and see how you go.

      If in doubt or if there is a lack of improvement, you can go see a physiotherapist.

      (Video games also stuffed me up my posture when I was your age too!)


    2. Hi Mark,

      Great stuff not sure how to post or where ( old person)Joke.

      I had a MRI partial tear of distal supraspinatus – DR said it is not a big deal that i need PT to get back range of motion- he mentioned it was 12 mm x 13 mm tear- I have zero pain

      I don’t trust all Dr’s is this something as bad as is sounds and can i do some of your exercise to fix this? You are the person I trust for honest answers.

      Thanks you are appreciated.

      1. Hey Raymond,

        Having a tear (as shown in your scans) does not always correlate with the presence of symptoms. It sounds like it is a degenerative tear as there has been no trauma.

        At this point, the best thing would be to treat is conservatively.

        Focus on :
        – Full range of motion
        – Strengthening of your shoulder musculature
        – Optimizing posture and movement.

        Also – Check out this post: Shoulder impingement.


  19. Hello Mark,
    I am suffering from the muscle imbalance because one of my shoulder is rounded. I am just curious to know if I perform these exercises then can I overcome the imbalance.Please help me out…

    1. Hey Akshay,

      If your rounded shoulder is due to weak/tight muscles, then these exercises will help fix that for sure.

      But be aware, other postural factors such as torso/pelvic position can influence the shoulder position as well.


      1. Hi Mark.

        Did not know how to post on this sorry about that

        My MRI showed partial tear of Supraspinatus tendon 12 mm x 13 mm-

        the Dr does not seem concerned he said exercises and PT can solve this.

        PT script says Adshesive capsulitus -incomplete rotatator cuff tear non-traumatic
        Should I be worried about this have zero pain- since you are awesome trust your opinion and any suggestion exercises. Thanks again

  20. Hi Mark,

    First, thank you for taking the time to write this guide. I’ve been dealing with a very stubborn and tight upper trap which gave me lots of neck tension and has caused my right shoulder to be rolled forward much more than the left. On bad days it almost felt like the humerus was ready to come out of the shoulder joint and burst out of the anterior delt (not really but that was just the sensation).

    After having done only one session I’ve noticed immediate improvement in both posture and in the reduction of neck and trap tension. I should also add that through research and an exam from physio the cause of this has been weakened/under active lower trap, which has been compounded by ‘improper’ bench pressing for many months now.

    Would you recommend that I continue this routine? I certainly wont take this as ‘medical advice’.

    1. Hey Kevin,

      These exercises should be able to help you out.

      If it was due to improper technique on bench, I would focus on releasing the pec major, pec minor, subclavius and maybe even lats in particular.


  21. Hi Mark

    I have been suffering from neck pains (mostly sides and back of the neck) and upper back pains for many months already. I evaluated myself using the guide you provided, and it seems that I may have slightly rounded shoulders as well. I was actually told by my doctor that my C6 and C7 is fused and that I have “loss of cervical lordosis”. Is there a permanent treatment for all this..? Please advise.

    1. Hi Liyana,

      If your C6/7 is indeed and undoubtedly 100% fused, there is not too much we can do about that.

      However – I find that many people just have “tight” C6/7 and with repeated and consisted exercises, you can get some movement in there.

      I would recommend reading this post here on how to get it moving again.


  22. I just want to sincerely thank you for your generosity in sharing this. After doing these exercises only twice (it took me one whole hour to do properly each time!) I received compliments about how my back looks less hunched already. Doing these also gave me awareness on how to carry myself more correctly. I do many hours of sitting meditation and these exercises really almost cured the pain I had so I am able to continue my meditation practice. Thank you 🙂

  23. Hi Mark,
    I had two questions. First, do you recommend spending a few days/weeks just doing the release and mobility exercises and then bringing strength exercises into the equation or is it best to take them on simultaneously and perform them all in one session? Also would dumbbell, barbell, other upper body strength workouts interfere with these exercises? Thanks

    1. Hi Joe,

      If you are very tight in your muscles and you don’t have full range of motion, you can focus on stretches and releases. Once you are more mobile, start with the strengthening. (You can do either way really, just depends on your presentation)

      Dumbbell upper body work is fine. Just make sure you focus on maintaining a neutral shoulder position and you’ll be fine.


      1. As long as we’re doing the mobility and stretching, could we just do proper form Rows and rear delts exercises to help as opposed to the exercises you suggested?

  24. Hey mark!
    I am 17 and i have anterior shoulder pain during chest workouts and pushups espacially during benchpress. I have pain around my scapular reigon too. Will these stretches and excersises help me . I am suffering from 5 months .

    Thank you

    1. Hey Chinnay,

      They might help place your shoulders in a better position.

      However – if you are still experiencing pain after 5 months, there may be some specific injury to the structures anterior to your shoulder. (eg. tendons)

      You will need to identify which ones and strengthen them to begin with.


  25. Hi!

    I’m 16 and I’m not sure if my shoulders are properly rounded but I know they’re constantly slouched and I always forget to push them into the right position. Are you saying that if I do these exercises at least twice a week, I won’t have to think about it when I’m studying or writing and that they will straighten themselves without me having to consciously make an effort to push them back?

    1. Hi Jana,

      That is the exact goal with these exercises.

      You probably have an imbalance of muscles in your posture leading to a) your shoulders being pulled forward and b) weak/inactive muscles that are not bringing your shoulders back into a neutral position.

      Once you correct this imbalance, the shoulders should sit nicely without conscious effort 100% of the time.


  26. Hi Mark! thanks for your blog. My case is a little complicated: I have had shoulder disclocation for many years (maybe 30 or more times when I was young), then I’m training in the gym and my muscles are strong. But I can’t work my back properly because I can’t contract well back’s muscles, also my shoulders are falling forward. What do you think I need to do? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Diego,

      With shoulder dislocations, you want to strengthen the shoulder in the position where it is weak. In most people, this would be in the 90/90 position of the arm.

      Once you have strength and stability, you can do these exercises for your Rounded shoulders.

      Once your shoulders are in a more neutral position, it will be easier to engage your back muscles. The common mistake when training back is that people actually are working out their biceps instead due to the lack of contraction of the back.


  27. Hi Mark,

    In what order am I meant to do these? Do I start with releases or do I do all 4 sub sections (strengthening, releases etc) in my daily session?

    I’ve suffered with this all of my life, I think due to stooping because I’m tall. Do I pick a few exercises to do each time or do I do all of the ones on this page?

    Are releases also considered exercises or are they something I’m meant to do after the other exercises?

    Thank you for any help

    1. Hi Kat,

      If you have the time and if it is practical for you, try to do them all in the suggested order.

      If not – start off with just the releases and stretches and take it from there.


  28. Hi Mark

    I have been dealing with a constant throbbing In my left shoulder area for approx 6 years now. I go to massage regularly and chiropractor. They have showed me different exercises as you have but I obviously don’t do them enough. I definitely have rounded shoulders as I have been told but I didn’t realize it would cause so much discomfort the older I get. I am 51 now and I am a Police Officer which involves a lot of driving and computer work. I really am never sure how long to do each exercise and how often. So you are saying do each exercise about 5 times and do these exercises twice a week?? As long as I know I can do that. No one has really told me that info

    1. Hi Lynard,

      The golden rule in regards to frequency is… Do it as many time as you can!

      Think about how long you have had your posture and the amount of sitting in front of a computer.

      … Now think about how much time you spend on postural exercises.

      You want to bridge that gap as much as you practically can.


      1. Mark,

        Cant find the log where you mentioned post shoulder surgery and stiffness are often related to lack of internal rotation and external both-(rounded shoulders)

        This is great info it appears the doing internal and external rotation exersizes daily is key to helping being able to lift my right arm over my head.

        Can I do these with light weights laying on the floor everyday?

        Can these be done dailey with light dumbbells

  29. I’m only 16 so with my body development will this improve as i get older, or am i best doing these exercises daily

    1. Hi Isaac,

      If you are still growing, bad posture generally gets worse!

      I would recommend addressing your posture now so that it doesn’t become a significant problem in the future.


      1. That’s what i thought, i came here due to i was reading up on the effect it has on potentially benefiting winged scapula, which is a tricky subject of whether its curable or not, so i thought these would be a good starting point

        Thanks for the speedy reply!

  30. Hey Great advice here, really felt better after doing these. I was wondering can I do the releases, stretch exercise or shoulder mobilisation daily? Thanks!

    1. Hey Mohammad,

      Glad to hear you felt some benefit from the exercises.

      And yes, you can do these exercises everyday. (in fact, I strongly would encourage you to!)


      1. Great thanks! Lastly about the strengthening exercises whats the most days you would recommend me doing these a week?

  31. This is so thorough! Thank you for all the info. I recently went to a physio with serious and constant pain under my right side of my skull. (I do have an old cervical spine compression injury, which hasn’t given me any issues until 10 months ago). My traps were tight and with repetitive arm actions at work my shoulder would go too, as well as my forearm and I also get pins and needles in the right arm. MRI and CT both show no issues. My physio did work on my cerival spine to try and help the ligaments there and noted my right shoulder was turned forward and around to the left. Yes I’m right handed, so that makes sense. Two days of consciously trying to pull it back and up a bit into it’s correct position is doing wonders! The shoulder is a little sore right on top but my neck/under skull pain has gone 90% (probably thanks to my physios’s work there too). Now I have your page booked for exercise/stretching referencing. Thanks again 🙂

  32. I am so glad I found this page! I truly believe this will help my ongoing problem. I’ve been in so much pain for so long. Doctors and physical therapists don’t know how to help (or they don’t care enough). Thank you! I’m looking forward to being free of pain.

  33. In External Rotation in Supine, there’s a towel under the guys elbow in one shot and under his head in another. I don’t really feel the stretch so I know I’m doing something wrong. Where should I put the towel? Thanks!

    1. Hi Taylor,

      You can put the towel in both areas. (it doesn’t really matter really!)

      If you can not feel any stretch, you may not be tight in this particular position (which is a good thing). If this is the case, you can skip this exercise and move onto the next one.


  34. This posterior tilt position with shoulder blades, should we try to maintian it throughout the day, e.g. when walking, or just when doing these exercises?

    1. Hey Johnny,

      Yes – you should try to maintain it throughout the day.

      … But just make sure you aren’t stiffening your whole body whilst you do it!


  35. Hi,
    regarding exercise 1. releases: a) Pec major/minor, can I use the wall so i can lean on it and roll the ball instead of the floor as I find myself hard to move on the floor as there’s a huge friction so it’s hard to move up and down (on the wall i don’t have friction except with the ball)?

  36. Hi i am body builder beffor 6 month i start to have right shoulder problem aka tendinitis/bursitis.My question is can this be becouse my chest was verry big and powerfull versus my upper back.I Was doing 6 x exsercise per week for chest and only 2 for back.Will this prorgram above fix my problem?

    1. Hey Bobi,

      These exercises will help bring back the balance between your muscles.

      Make sure you are placing your shoulders in a neutral position when you are doing chest.


  37. Thanks so much for your site. My issue is the top of my shoulder blade angles towards my shoulder socket and the bottom part is closer to my spine. What exercises could help me get my scapula back into the correct position?

    1. Hey Jason,

      It sounds like you have what we call a medially rotated scapula.

      You will need to strengthen your lateral rotators (Serratus anterior, trapezius)

      Have a look at some of these exercises here. (Scroll down to Serratus anterior exercises)


  38. Hi Mark
    I have really poor posture that resulted from rounded shoulders I’ve had for approx 3 years. Anterior pelvic tilt kicked in about a year ago. Kindly advise on the best exercises to fix this using weights as I’m planning to correct my posture by hitting the gym (if this is the most effective way)

  39. Hi mark. Great site. I do a lot of weightlifting exercises and am now noticing that I have rounded shoulders as a result of foolishly prioritising chest exercises and neglecting back exercises. Do u have any recommendations on which of these exercises to do and how many sets or how much time to do them

    1. Hey Johnny,

      For back exercises, focus on:
      – Lat pull down
      – Low row
      – Rear delt flyes

      You can hold them for 3-5 seconds, repeat 10 times. Make sure you can feel your back muscles working (and not so much your arms)


  40. Hi mark!
    I have a bad posture since 10 years and it’s getting worse day by day. I have started doing exercises recommended by my physiotherapist … But I have super weak back muscles and every time o do any exercise they get sore and I’m not even able to move sometimes. My right shoulder is totally rounded as you’ve shown in the photograph on the blog. My rhomboid muscle on right side always gives me a pinching and sharp pain. I’m not able to do any strengthening exercise ( for example … Not even a proper pushup)… Whenever I try I end up on bed lol
    I want to ask:
    1. What should I do for muscles … Is it normal?
    2. How long would it take to strengthen my back and shoulders as I can’t really do any exercises for my rounded shoulders or neck because of it. long would it take to completely correct my posture … Just to have an idea so that I can plan a timeline ( lol sorry, I know you’ok hate to answer it… But please give me a rough estimate else I tend to lose motivation )


    1. Hi Divya,

      With these exercises, do what you can do. If you can only do 4 or 5 reps. That is fine. Everyone has to start somewhere. The main thing is to progress from where you start.

      Your body has its limits. If you go excessively past your limits, your body will likely hurt. Do as much as the body will comfortably allow you to.

      With repeated and consistent effort, the body will adapt and the exercises will get easier.

      If Rounded shoulders is the main cause of your issues, then these exercises will definitely help.

      How long will it take? I have not assessed your personally so I can’t really answer. Even if I did, it would still be a stab in the dark.


  41. Thanks for this article. I have had very rounded shoulders since I was little girl (I think due to poor body confidence, I am now in my thirties) and have never corrected them. I saw a photo of myself recently from the side and was shocked how poor my posture looked and the impact this had on my body shape. I am determined to improve my posture but realise I’m having to correct a lifetime of incorrect habits. Any tips for how I can ensure I constantly pull back my shoulders without reverting to my normal poor position and are back braces/corrector worth considering? Thanks.

    1. Hi Ruth.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      You are going to have to keep catching yourself when you let your shoulders roll forward. The first step is always awareness.

      You won’t be able to keep good posture for majority of the time to begin with (and that’s completely normal).

      I am not a huge fan of braces as it makes your postural muscles lazy. But they might be useful in the beginning if you keep forgetting about your Rounded shoulder.


  42. Hi Mark,

    Thanks for the great write up! I’m trying to determine if I have rolled shoulders. When I let my shoulders relax on my side, my palms did not face me (aka cave man look). However when I stick my thumbs out, it doesnt stick out completely straight. Instead it points out diagonally. Would this classify as an intermediate case of rolled shoulders?

    I also noticed when I lie straight on the floor, my rear shoulder dont touch the ground.

    Are inverted rows and pullups good exercises besides the ones you mentioned in this article?

    Appreciate any feedback!

    1. Hi Giacomo,

      Sounds like you do have a degree of Rounded shoulders.

      Inverted rows and pulls up are great for strengthening the back muscles to help pull the shoulders back. Just make sure you can feel the muscles working in the back, and not so much in your biceps.


  43. Hey Mark,

    My shoulder blades barely move together when trying to get the retraction/posterior tilt. Is this normal or is there something I’m missing. I also have a winged scapula for both shoulders, could this be an issue?


    1. Hi Samuel,

      Posterior tilting a very subtle movement.

      You may need to concentrate on this particular movement if you are tilted anteriorly (commonly due to the pec minor tightness.)

      If the inferior border (the red bits) are sticking out in your back, then it is likely the scapula is in a position of anterior tilt.


  44. I have rounded shoulders and forward head posture. What is the estimate time if done correctly and regularly to fix it? Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Bane,

      It depends on many factors. Eg. Severity, how long you have had it, what you do for work/leisure/exercise, age, etc.

      Try to aim for ongoing progressions over a long period of time.


      1. I think I have it for past 3 years. Its very noticeable when I look in the mirror when relaxed. I m 26 years old and spend average 6 hours on PC. My computer monitor is on my eye level. I don’t bend my head to look down but I use my tablet. Is it normal to hear like cracking in neck and back when doing exercises ?(like when you crack you fingers)

        1. Hi Bane,

          Cracking is usually a sign of a release in pressure of the joints.

          This probably means your joints are being compressed together in your posture.

          When you first start doing the exercises, it is common to get some cracking. As your joints and posture as a whole improve, this should stop.


  45. Hi Mark! Thanks for this. I have rounded shoulders and forward head posture. Do you how much estimated time is needed to correct this if done regularly. Thanks in advance.

  46. Hi Mark,

    How necessary are the releases? I don’t have any massage balls that I can use but I have been trying to use tennis balls instead but I don’t think they are working as much as I would hope, so if the releases are not done properly would that mean I don’t get the results? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Ali,

      If your muscles aren’t tight or over active, then you can skip the releases.

      However – if they are, they are very important! Tennis ball may not be firm enough to get the right amount of pressure on the muscles.


  47. Hi Mark, I’ve had kyphosis since about 14 just from slouching when I startWendyschweitzered to develop. I am 51 years old now and have been going to chiro’sand PT’s on and off for years. I recently had some pain along both sides of my lower back muscles and shoulder blades and PT has been helping a lot I want to stay in shape and I was going to a trainer doing weights and cardio I stopped because I thought that it was too much for me and I might injure something. I would like to still do some weights and cardio and keep in shape is it possible that I could possibly lessen the curve in my back and still be able to do some cardio and weights if so which are the best routine for me with the weights? What workout with weights would you suggest that I do and what cardio would be best for my back? I thank you in advance Wendy

    1. Hey Wendy,

      To reduce the kyphosis, have a look at this post: How to fix Hunchback posture.

      All of those exercises mentioned there are specifically designed to address your upper back curve.

      You can continue your weighted exercises and cardio as long as they are not encouraging your back to curve more.


  48. If i do only some of the exercises,will it still have any impact?With only light exercises such as hanging from horizontal bar and other stretching exercises problem in my left shoulder got better. But in right shoulder ,problem persists.

    I use my right arm for fast bowling in cricket?

    Also while working on round shoulders,I felt stretch mostly in left shoulder and mostly pain in right shoulder.

  49. Hi Mark,
    Thank you for sharing your expertise! Are releases, stretches, mobilizations and strengthening exercises supposed to be all done in one session and every session? Or should a person work on releases for a week or two, then stretches for a few weeks and so forth?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Olga,

      I would start by doing all of them in the one go to begin with.

      But it really depends on how much time you can allocate to doing your exercises. If you can only do a small amount each day, then that is fine too.

      I know there are a lot of exercises and it can be quite time consuming, but compare this to the amount of time that you are probably sitting/standing all day!


  50. Hey mark your comments have inspired me to ask a question. I get told by friends and family I worry too much! After going to see pysio therapist I was told I had bad posture possibly from spending long hours on game console as a teen. Iv been given some exercises to do now and the pain in my back has eased off on my last pysio appointment I was told my posture is getting better, However sometimes after I do the exercises and more so if I don’t do them I get a stabbing pain above my left pec and underneath my collar Bone. Is this normal because I worry about Angina and heart problems as there in my family. I’m 32 and this worry is ruining my life Iv had ecg and nothing shows up doctors think I’m crazy about heart problems and shouldn’t worry so much. I do tend to stress out a lot and that’s what makes me think about Angina. I would appreciate it if you could shed some light on this situation.
    Kind regards

    1. Hi Fernando,

      As heart issues is outside my expertise, I can’t really comment that.

      However- in the left pec region under the collar bone, it is common to get trigger points in muscles such as:
      Pec major
      Pec minor

      These muscles tend to get tight with a bad slouching posture. The exercises in the post should help with that.

      Try to be aware of what exactly causes your left chest pain. If it is arm movements or sustained postures, it is more likely a muscular/joint issues. If it starts to get worse with stress, increase heart rate, cardiovascular training etc, I would definitely go back to the doctor to get re-assessed.


  51. Hi Mark,

    What a great blog you have here.

    I’m currently having physiotherapy for a shoulder impingement, which has made no difference after three months and I came across your blog when looking for solutions for rounded shoulders, which I know I have. The exercises I’ve tried show that my pec region is excessively tight and the muscles at the rear are weak – despite the physio exercises I do every day. The question I’d like to ask is: If doing the postural exercises hurts my shoulder because of the impingement, should I continue with the exercises in the hope that the eventual better posture will alleviate the impingement, or will doing the exercises aggravate the impingement?


    1. Hey John,

      Although your rounded shoulders has likely contributed to your impingement, you will need to address the shoulder locally first.

      This should involve reducing inflammation (eg. anti-inflam medication, anti-inflam gel, cortisone injection), rest from aggravating activities, maintaining pain-free range of motion and isometric strengthening.

      Try to avoid any activity or exercise that increases your pain.

      You can try some of the exercises mentioned here as well.


  52. Thanks for the help! I have been looking for good articles ti correct forward head and rounded shoulders. I have bad posture since im 12 (probably) and now I am 25.

    My question is, can I avoid looking stiff when walking while maintaining the proper posture?

    1. Hey Thomas,

      Try to avoid jamming your body into “good posture”. You want it to be as relaxed and natural as possible (which can take some practice to get to that stage.)

      When walking, a good way to maintain good posture is to imagine you are being pulled upwards by your head. The aim of this is to elongate your spine.

      When you think about to many components of posture, you end up stiff as a plank of wood.

      Hope this helps.


      1. Thanks!

        Another question, will push ups help?
        My bmi is 17.23, could it be one of the factors im too underweight is that im slouching? Just wondering.


        1. Hi Thomas,

          Push ups are good for posture IF you maintain neutral spine/shoulder/head whilst performing. Otherwise – if done incorrectly, it could encourage the bad posture.

          I find being over weight usually will affect posture more than being underweight.


    2. And im also wondering what posture problem you had, as it was in your About Me. That would be motivating to know.

      1. You are the first person on here that has asked me this! 🙂

        In a nutshell, I had a:
        – pelvis that was rotating to the Right side
        – side tilted to the right at the lower back region
        – left translated and right rotated rib cage in relation to the centre of gravity
        – forward and hitched left shoulder.
        – left head tilt

        This was all due to playing too many computer games as a kid 😛


        1. So I was the first!

          I suggest that you make a post on how you corrected your posture, since it might be that most of us who are so far from correcting our own posture may find it hopeless.

        2. How did U overcome this problem? I find myself in very simmilar case, I wonder where should i start. Thanks in advance 🙂

  53. Hi Mark – thanks for the exercises! I also have spinal nerve paralysis caused by lower jaw replacement surgery, which has caused the forward rotation of my left shoulder. My question is, if I do the above exercises, and the muscles involved are not firing (according to the NCS), will the exercises benefit me? You can see a prominent difference in my neck and shoulder area. I have great trap muscles on my right side, but the left side is absent. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Kathy,

      Do you know which specific nerve/s was affected? This will determine how far you can these exercises.

      Even so – The exercises will still likely benefit you.

      You may just need to rely on your other muscles which are not affected by the nerve paralysis to pull your shoulder back.


  54. Hey Mark, great article and thanks for keeping up on replies to everyone.

    I have rounded shoulders and they aren’t very severe. I’m a track cyclist and don’t frequently lift my upper body like I used to for football. I’m also not having pain. My issue is this: When I’m in the gym doing traditional bicep curls (my only other exercises are squat, single-leg deadlift, leg extension, hamstring curls, leg press, and pushups) I cannot get a squeeze/contraction of my bicep at the top of a curl. If I do a curl with my elbow pointing towards 2-3 O’clock, I can get a little bit of a squeeze but still not a normal squeeze like my left.

    I know your post says that over-active or tight biceps could cause rounded shoulders, but I don’t lift enough to really say that my biceps are too tight or over-active. Could rounded shoulders cause my inability to fire the bicep at the top of a curl?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Jeff,

      You can try supinating your arm at the top of your bicep curl. Think about your pinky finger twisting upwards and out to the side.

      This will help recruit more of your biceps muscle.

      If that doesn’t help, you can try either reducing the weight or use single arm biceps curls.

      If that still doesn’t help, check your elbow range of motion to make sure you have full elbow flexion/supination. Without full flexion/supination, you won’t be able to get that full contraction of the biceps.

      And then if all those options don’t work, it could be that your posture (possibly rounded shoulders) is placing your biceps in an effective position where it can not contract completely.

      Let me know if any of that works!


  55. Hi Mark. I’ve been doing these exercises for a while on and off, and I always had this problem that I can’t feel a stretch in my chest while doing the doorway stretch, I only feel it in the front of the shoulders, and it feels like I’m just wasting my time. I’ve watched quite a lot of videos on different techniques of stretching the pecs and the only one that feels even remotely successful is laying vertically on a foam roller, however, even then the stretch is minimal in the pec area. So my question is: is it normal not to feel a stretch in the chest area? and what can i do about it if not?

    1. Hey Nate,

      Make sure you keep your lower rib cage down when doing the chest stretches. Sometimes to lower back can compensate.

      Another way you can stretch is to do the same door frame stretch but in a push up position.

      Let me know if that makes sense.


  56. Hello Mark,
    I’ve had terrible muscle spasms in my neck but, with PT, I do have relief. I do have a rounded back from slouching (I do sleep on my side due to a laminectomy years ago) and I am doing PY exercises to improve my posture. How can I tell if I have neck bones/joints that have become fused? I also have tingling in my legs especially my right leg. Any info or recommendations you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Robie,

      If you persist with these exercises over a long period of time (and providing you are doing them with the correct technique and intensity) and see absolutely no improvement at all, then it may be suggestive that your joints are fused.

      Here are some links to some awesome exercises for your neck:
      Forward head posture correction
      Neck exercises

      Tingling in the Right leg will usually mean some sort of nerve is being irritated.

      Have you had any scans to rule out any disc issues?



    1. HI LORENA!

      Yes! Do all of these exercises! 🙂

      I am not a big fan of braces… purely because people generally get reliant on them which tends to make your postural muscles lazy.


  58. Hi,

    I have Supraspinatus impingement and am wondering if the rounded shoulder exercises (I have bad posture) will help cure the Supraspinatus impingement?

  59. Hi. Nice article. I have Rounded shoulders. I am going to gym regularly now. Are there any exercises I should avoid if I have Rounded shoulders ?? For example, if my chest muscles are tight, should I do chest press ?

    1. Hey Ronak,

      It is fine to continue with chest work providing that you are doing it with the proper posture.

      Just make sure you keep your chest work in balance with the opposing back muscles.


  60. Hi, how do I know which problem I have?! I think round shoulders, but my back goes in at the bottom too, so I’m like an S shape?
    My feet also turn inwards, is there anything I can do for those too. I’m a right mess posture wise, I’d love to be ‘normal’ like other people, I hate the way I look.

  61. Hi mark…This was very useful..Thanks a lot..Now I have started to go to the gym so kindly tell me workout routines to built a body like yours…

    1. Cheers for the comment, Sam.

      Lift as heavy as you can with good technique and posture.

      Mix that with consistency and time, you will get the body that you want! 🙂


  62. Hi there

    I have recently started doing physio exercises and I am making good progress

    However, I am starting a job soon which is Monday to Friday 9-5

    I am currently doing exercises 3-5 times a day, throughout a day at even intervals. Will I still be able to make progress if I do this around work, but not during work hours (9-5)?

    1. Hi Danny,

      Yes – that will still be okay.

      Try to maintain as good posture throughout the day, take frequent breaks and continue your exercises.


  63. Hi Mark,

    I am a french guy living in china, I used to sit and play videos games a lot ( sitting front of my computer for hours). Its kind of hard for me to find an physiotherapist here. I find your advises very helpful and would like to thanks you a lot for those instructions.

    Do you have anything for winged scapula and anterior pelvic tilt?

    I will share your website to other people, please keep it up, amazing instructions.

    Thanks a lot Mark

  64. Hey Mark! How do I know if my muscle are tight and what is the cause of muscle tightness? After I “release” the muscle will it get tight every time I go to the gym and lift weights?

    1. Hi Alan,

      A muscle is tight if it prevents you from having full uncompensated movement. Eg. A tight pec minor will prevent you from bringing your shoulders backwards without arching your back.

      To determine what makes your muscle tight, you will have to look at what activities you do on a regular basis (eg. prolonged sitting, incorrect technique at gym, poor sleeping habits etc etc.)

      If your gym is making your muscles tighter, you will have to make sure you have proper technique and train all muscle groups equally.


  65. Hey Mark! I’d like to thank you for all of these answers and I have one more. After I’ve “fixed” my rounded shoulders when I completely loose my shoulders and try to hold a neutral position will they still lean foward or down? Thank you!

    1. Hey Alan,

      The shoulders should sit in a neutral resting position. If they still poke forward, you will need to keep working on the exercises.


  66. Hello thank you for a lot of helpful information. I would like u to ask when stretching ur hands back bent 90 degrees and palm facing outside my shoulder blades cause pain when pressed softly. How do i cure that?

      1. Thank you Mark. It really helped in identification of my problem. I am working towards all the steps you mentioned. Last thing i wanted to ask is i m a regular gym goes i lift very heavy weights, in these recovery days how much should i go maximum upto or is there any problem in full body (all muscle group) working out at gym?

    1. Hi Alan,

      Thanks for all of these questions.

      If your muscles are not tight, then you do not need to release the muscles.

      It may just be a case of strengthening/engaging your postural muscles.


  67. Hello Mark, how often can I do these exercises? Can I do them daily or should I have one rest day in between? Also, can I use a tennis ball instead of the spiky ball? Also will gym chest, shoulder and back weight exercises help with fixing my rounded shoulders? Thank you.

    1. Hi Alan,

      Do the exercises as many times as you can. 1/day would be a minimum. If you require a rest day, you can also do that.

      Tennis ball is fine to help with the releases. However- I find a lacrosse massage ball provides the best results.

      Gym exercises are great, however, many people do the gym exercises in the wrong posture. You need to make sure that your maintain as neutral posture as possible in all exercises.


  68. Should I do these exercises every day and how long should it take for my rounded shoulders to get fixed? Will they be fixed in a way where I can rest and they will look normal or will I still have to pull them back?

    1. Hey Alan,

      Yes – you should do them every day. 1/day would be a minimum.

      In terms of how long it will take…. it’s really hard to say. Some people can correct it straight away as all that was wrong was a lack of awareness of shoulder position.

      Whereas others have to release tight structures and strengthen weak muscles FIRST, which can take weeks to months.

      The goal is to have your shoulders NATURALLY sit in the right position without you having to jam them backwards.


  69. My pain is in upper arms just below shoulder when laying on them , right side is worse than left probably because the right is my preferred side to lay on . I feel like my shoulders are scrunching forward which creates pain around collar bone area .
    What excercise would help to allievate my pain which results in lots of lost sleep . ?

  70. Thank you for this article Mark. I do alot of lifting at work and always thought I was to bulky in the shoulder area. My sister just recently brought my rounded shoulders to my attention. I’ve noticed in the past that when I lay with my chest flat on the floor I look as if I have a slight hump on my back. I was also diagnosed with a RT shoulder impingement and have been experiencing RT rib pain for a while now. I am going to try the exercises to strengthen my muscles and hopeful this will help.

    1. Hi Sarung,

      Asymmetry in the abdominal muscles can either be genetic or some sort of poor alignment of the pelvis into the ribs. (and/or vice versa).

      This is a great post idea that I can do in the future.



  71. Hi Mark! Thanks a lot for this great article which I luckily happened to stumble over. I have noticed that there is some scapula winging when I do push ups, and read online that I should then strengthen the serratus anterior to correct that. At the same time I have rounded shoulders all the time, and if I understand correct you recommend to stretch the serratus anterior for that; not strengthening it. I’m confused as of what to do, when it seems like the excercices for scapula winging and rounded shoulders contradict each other ( if I am to believe what the other sites said). I believe yours makes most sense though. Please help me!

    1. Hi Andreas,

      Funny that you ask this… My next post is actually about fixing a Winged scapula! (It should be up by next week.)

      If you have both Rounded shoulders and Winged scapula, you will still want to strengthen/learn to control the Serratus anterior muscle in both lengthened and shortened positions. I would try to fix the winging before you fix the Rounding of the shoulders.


  72. Mate thank you SO much for posting this.
    I have had stiffness and pain in my upper back from overworking my chest and not working other parts creating a muscle imbalance (too much bench press tightening up my chest coupled with a tendency to roll my shoulders forward).
    This has helped me SO much, all of the massage ball techniques brought immediate relief.

    Again thank you!

  73. Hi there,

    Great articles. I really need some help and have a couple questions.

    I suffer from winged scapula (due to inhibited rhomboids, lower/mid trap and serratus anterior, not nerve damage). I also suffer from anterior pelvic tilt and rounded shoulders.

    I am currently following your other articles on anterior pelvic tilt and rounded shoulders.

    My anterior pelvic tilt seems to have been partially caused by squatting, the lower back has become very strong, and also the muscles on the side of the lower back are actually arched as they are so big, creating an indent in the middle of my back even when it is straight ( this is nothing to do with the spine it is just that the muscles on the side of my lower back protrude as they are overdeveloped).

    Do I need to take anything extra into account when correct my APT in terms of what I have explained has caused it?

    Furthermore, could you give me some advice on winged scapula, and strengthening the lower and mid trapezius?

    Much appreciated! Thanks so much

    1. Hi Danny,

      For winged scapula, a good place to start with is to get your serratus anterior engaging to help flatten the border of your scapula on you rib cage. Check out the PushUp Plus exercise.

      For lower traps, I personally like to do scapula depression/retractions whilst on the lat pull down machine.

      In regards to your APT: If you have over developed muscles in the lower back which is tilting your pelvis forward, you will need to a) focus on relaxing/stretching those muscles and b) making sure your glute and abdominal wall are able to bring you to neutral pelvis. Also – make sure your hips and torso are rising at the same time in the ascend portion of your squat to make sure your lower back is not over working.


  74. Hello Mark,

    Very informative post! For the past 6 months, I have not been able to do chest day due to shoulder impingement on my left side (bursitis, bone spur, tendinitis, osteoarthritis, etc).

    I am on 500mg naproxen, have been doing physio, and it’s a lot better than it was but I’m by now means cured. As you pointed out, rounded shoulders and weaker lower back muscles are culprits (my physio worker says my left scapula “slides” abnormally when raising my arm).

    The main catalyst, however, was working out with a broken pinky (it was snapped in a splint as I was benching 80lb dumbbells… Hindsight knows how ignorant I was — I didn’t know then). Do you think surgery is required if I’ve hit half a year with impingement?



    1. Hey James,

      I usually find Shoulder Impingement a result of a combination of poor posture, weak/tight/inhibited muscles and poor movement strategies.

      By identifying what exactly is preventing your shoulder from moving properly, you can probably avoid surgery.

      What kind of rehab exercises have you done?


  75. Hi Mark, quick question. I have rounded shoulders and forward head posture. I am unable to lift both my arms, at the same time, to make the letter T. It feels as if I’m lifting a lot of weight but there is no weight. Maybe something in my shoulders is locking up. Could my rounded shoulders have something to do with that? Thanks.

    1. Hi Val,

      Rounded shoulders can place your shoulder blade in a position where it will make it difficult for you to lift you arms >90 degrees.

      Have you had a look at this shoulder impingement post? This may be a good place to start if you are experiencing pain.


      1. It doesn’t hurt at all when I lift my arms, they just feel heavy to where I can’t lift them. It’s more uncomfort than pain.

    1. Hi Angel,

      They will help with your son.

      (The hard part is getting him to do the exercises 😛 )

      Also – with young children, try to encourage them not to slouch whilst using the smart phone/tablet.


  76. Hi Mark- is it necessary to do these exercises in order as you have them listed, and all at the same time? Or can you do them throughout the day, as you have time?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Ashley,

      You do not have to do them in order.

      I would much prefer you do whatever you can, whenever you can, rather do none at all!


  77. Hello i have a question for you.

    I have been so conscious about my rounded shoulders and have been trying your stretches, i find myself forcing my shoulder blades back and together which is causing me to feel tired from my back, should i just relax or should i always try to push my shoulders back? Is it normal to feel tiredness and soreness on the back muscles? Thanks

    1. Hi Angie,

      The aim of these exercises is to get your body to naturally hold you in right posture. Good posture needs to become natural for you, rather than forced.

      As your muscles are probably still tight, it is going to be very uncomfortable (and require a lot of effort) to keep them back and down.

      The soreness that you feel in your muscles at the back is due those muscles getting a good work out.(Which is great!… but you also need to let them rest and recover)

      It gets easier! I promise you!


  78. Hi Mark!
    Thank you for this article. It’s really help a lot! Could you give me a tips for sleeping posture so I won’t have rounded shoulders again? Thank you so much.

    1. Hey Vanilla,

      I always advise to sleep on your back as this is the best sleeping position for your posture. Check this post out for more info on sleeping position.

      It is pretty much impossible to keep your shoulders back whilst sleep on your side.


  79. Hi Mark,

    I have an anterior pelvic tilt, forward shoulders (only when standing/sitting) and a forward head posterior plus flat feet. I have been getting quite intense right occipital headaches, which initially only occurred during exercise which push ups but now are basically daily. Which problem would address first? Can send some postural pictures to you for advice?

    1. Hey Ese,

      If you are getting symptoms in your head, then I would start with your forward head posture.

      With your push ups, you need to make sure that you are not pushing your chin forward. Keep your neck completely relaxed.

      Feel free to send me postural pictures through the facebook page. You can click here to go straight to the page.


  80. Hi, mark. I’m now 24-year-old, male, 185 cm with rounded shoulder.
    Thanks for your clear info.
    I was wondering how should balance the rounded shoulder fixing & muscle training?
    I’m afraid my situation may become worse if I keeping strengthen my chest & back, but I also wanna build better shape…

    1. Hey Frank,

      You can continue to train your chest, as long as you are doing it with good posture.

      Also – try to incorporate more stretching of your tight muscles (Chest, Lats, biceps) and

      Increase the amount of strengthening/activation exercises that train your posterior muscles (rhomboids, posterior deltoids, lower traps)


  81. Hi Mark, I have problems with kyphosis, forward head posture, anterior pelvic tilt, I’m unable to lie on my back to do any exercises as all the muscles tighten up within a matter of minutes and cause terrible pain/spasms, (I did try Pilates classes for a year but gave up in the end as my back pain didn’t improve) i’ve recently been to an osteopath and she says my muscles are constantly working to try to keep me upright when they should relax. I also tried massage I went about 20 times but she said my back is like concrete and she can’t get the muscles to relax at all, please help.

    1. Hi Dawn,

      It does sound like your upper back is locked into flexion (Kyphosis). This will automatically force your lower/middle back muscles to work over time.

      Check out this post to help with your rounded back posture.

      You will need to make sure that each position is comfortable. Do not force the position.


  82. HI Mark. First thanks for information, I’m looking about this for long time.
    But I have some questions, I have a ROUNDED SHOULDERS and FORWARD HEAD.
    Should I fix which one first or fix it together and if I do not have any of gadget like a ball will be okay ? Thank you so much for reply me.

    1. Hey Patt,

      You can do both at the same time.

      A massage ball helps heaps. But if you can’t get one, anything that can apply comfortable pressure to the tight areas may work as well.


  83. Hi! I never post on any site. Just wanted to extend my gratitude towards you and this post. This is one of the first blogs I’ve found on the subject, and I am so grateful. You are truly improving the world, God bless and take care. – 24 yo male seeking improvement

  84. Hi mark thanks for the article.. i also have round shoulders.. and i am going to gym so is it ok to do bench pressing and pectoral strengthening exercises having round shoulders? If not then should i continue going to gym ?

    1. You can continue chest training as long as:

      1. You maintain good posture/technique whilst bench pressing
      2. Stretch your chest muscles
      3. Balance the pull of your chest muscles with as many back strengthening (rows, retractions etc)


  85. Hi Mark,
    Great article, thank you for such great info! I’m 39 and started running about 3 years ago, since then my shoulders always feel tense/tight…even when I’m in bed and activley trying to relax my body. I am starting weight training next week and will utilize a lot of the exercises you presented, but I was hoping you might have a suggestion for sleeping. I have read that you can roll up a towel, put it between the shoulder blades and lay on it at night so that gravity helps your shoulders go back, is this true? Is there a better way to help my forward shoulders while I sleep?

    1. Hey Allison,

      The main thing is do not sleep on your side as this pushes your shoulder forward on the under side. Gravity will usually drop the upper shoulder down and forward as well.

      I’d say sleep on your back. If your shoulders are quite rounded, support them lightly with a pillow or rolled towel placed underneath the upper arm/back of shoulder region. (… But not too much that it pushes the shoulders forward.

      If your shoulder comfortably permits you, you could even consider sleeping with you arms up above you.


      ^ Something like that. lol


  86. Is there any kind of device or bands you can wear if you work at a computer all day to keep your shoulders back and posture correct?

    1. Hey Michelle,

      There are plenty!

      But I would not recommend it. It is better to rely on your muscles to maintain your posture.

      You could use it short term but never long term.


  87. Is there any kind of band or something you can wear when you work at a computer all day to help keep your shoulders back and posture correct?

  88. What if you have only one shoulder that is noticeably higher and the opposite shoulder rolls forward more. I also have si joint issues. My right side gets locked and left side seems to by hypermobile. So my right shoulder is down and rolled more forward than my left. I am right handed as well. Thanks!

    1. Christina,

      It is normal for your shoulder on the dominant side to be slightly lower.

      For people with a Right shoulder being more forward, the pec minor on the right may be tight. (Of course there are other factors that can cause this but this would require an assessment of your whole posture).

      Let me know if you want me to have a look at your posture. You can find me on the facebook page.



  89. Hola marcos primeramente Graziaz por tus ejersisios. Quisiera preguntar si estos ejersisios alludan mucho con lordosis cervical grazias de ante mano

  90. Hi Mark,

    I have suffered with rounded shoulders for as long as I can remember 36 now.. In recent years I find myself in a very physical job were I am required to do a lot of lifting and work long hours.

    Its at the stage now were its got that bad that its giving me tension type headaches above my eyes and they are progressing to migraine. I find I am taken medication almost everyday to keep everything at bay.

    I guess my question is would these exercises repair my shoulders over time. I know it won’t be a quick fix for me. But the amount of time and money I spend getting the knots rubbed out of my back its got to the point now were I will try any thing.

    Ps great work on the blog I can see you spent a lot of time and energy into making it. And like to say I appreciate it.

    1. Hey Stephen,

      It is very common for tight muscles and joints to cause headaches/migraines.

      Fixing your posture will help with this directly. Try not to rely on the pain killers as they are only masking the pain without addressing the route cause of your problems.

      If you are specifically having headaches, check out this post on Forward Head posture. It will help!


    1. Hey Sam,

      Those exercises are completely fine to address Rounded Shoulders.

      Any exercise that encourages your shoulders to go backwards is great!


  91. Thank you so much for these informative posts, these issues are not addressed by most GP’s and patients suffer and are probably overmedicated instead of learning the root of their problems! I’ve worked at my computer too many hours a day for years. Though I’ve always been a walker, the extra time spent writing a book the last year has taken a toll. My posture is awful, shouldered rounded (I have a small scoliosis anyway that’s not visible unless on x-ray) and I realize that I’ve begun standing with my knees slightly bent all the time. Seems like the weight of my body is projecting onto the balls of my feet and away from the heel entirely. Problems occasionally with plantar fasciitis and I’m not sure if that has contributed? We have hardwood floors and my feet stay tender, the chiropractor is trying to help me through neuropathy in my feet which seems to be worsening the more I sit!

    My chiropractor says I have problems in two neck discs and some low back disc degeneration but overall it’s not terrible. He’s urged me to walk EVERY DAY and I’m doing a brisk 30 minutes without pain.

    I’ll be working through your programs to help overcome the problems all this sitting has caused, any other tips to help with reversing my foot problem particularly?

    1. Hi Terry,

      Your foot pain sounds like it may be arising from the Anterior Pelvic tilt.

      In this posture your body shifts more onto the front of your foot which places more pressure on the plantarfascia, calf and quadriceps area. It also may cause your feet to roll inwards!

      So – addressing your anterior pelvic tilt should help de load that foot!

      Another thing you could do is strengthen your muscles underneath your foot. Check out this post here and look for the exercise called “Short foot”.

      Hope this helps!

  92. Hi Mark,

    I just want to know that what should i do if there is no rounded shoulder when you sit down and lay on your back but while walking normally it occurs.
    My shoulder is normal while sitting or lay on my back but there is huge rounded shoulder appears while i am waliking.

    Please help me.

    1. Hi Ayush,

      The same exercises listed above can help you out.

      If you experience Rounded shoulders only when walking, you will likely need to focus on activating those muscles that pull you back into the right alignment.

      The posture you maintain whilst you are walking may also need to be addressed.

      Have a look at these different types of postures:
      Anterior Pelvic tilt
      Sway back posture

    1. Hi Lauren,

      Do what you can to start off with.

      But make sure you progress with it later down the track.

      PS. Hope your psoas is getting better 😉



  93. Hi Mark,
    Thank you so much for posting this information about rounded shoulder. I have never understood why I get such severe headaches and back aches. I have seen so many specialists and never once have they mentioned about my shoulders. I have started doing some of these stretches and have also been modifying my work station. I am starting to feel the pain subside. I knew my posture was out but did not realise my shoulders were the main cause. Now that I am aware of this I can work on improving my shoulders and posture. I wish I saw this years ago.
    Thank you again, Traci (Vic, Australia)

  94. Hey Mark! Thanks for your advise! I have a question: if I perform the scapula retraction my lattimus Doris seems to take over. How can I prevent that from happening?

    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  95. Hi Mark
    Thank you so much for your tips
    I have a question : you said that we should do that twice a week , can I do that three times a week ?
    Thank you

  96. Hi Mark, thanks for your great articles. just 2 things.
    1. lots of authors say the subscapularis pull the shoulders back, and the infraspinatus to front. you say exactly the opposit. here is one link of eric cressey saying that. there are many others saying the same.. maybe you meant the subscapularis make the shoulders roll in and the xternal rotators roll out.. but you were talking about muscles that pull the shoulder forward and backward
    2. how can a tight post capsule pull the humeros to anterior as you said?

    thanks a lot. patrick

    1. Hey Patrick,

      Thanks for pointing that out.

      The Subscapularis will cause a rolling in of the humeral head when tight/facilitated (Internal rotation), which can see be seen in rounded shoulders.

      In regards to the anterior translation of the humeral head…

      The way I see it is that a tight posterior capsule will:
      1. Reduce true Internal rotation in the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint. This may cause the scapula to compensate the movement with an anterior tilt. In this scenario, the whole shoulder girdle tends to pop forward (and to a degree the humeral head).
      2. Instead of “pull”, it will “push” the humeral head forward (like a trampoline).

      Hope this answers your question!


      1. Hi Mark,

        I think I have an overly tight posterior capsule. When placing my hands behind my back as per 3.a) and for the “towel stretch” I can’t even get my hand above my buttocks without my scapular winging.

        I have been doing the sleeper stretch but I’m not sure it’s hitting the tightest muscles.
        Is there a progression you would be able to recommend in order to improve internal rotation in this scenario?

        1. Hi Louis,

          I like doing the sleeper stretch to increase internal rotation of the shoulder joint.

          You should feel a stretch right at the back corner of the shoulder joint.

          If you can’t feel a stretch, you might need to gently pull your shoulder blade back and down before crank the forearm down.

          Hope this helps.


    1. Hi there,

      Since the lats attach to the front of your shoulder bone, it tends to pull your shoulders inwards/downwards at the insertion. (Internal rotation of your shoulder joint)

      This can lead to the Rounding of the shoulders.


  97. Hi Mark, thank you so much for your wonderful site filled with clear info, illustrations and most of all CARE. I’m a 48 yr old female… very thin, small framed with long limbs. Over time but most particularly in the past few years (had a baby at 41! Yay me! But hard on my body) I’ve experienced a total wreckage of my posture and such an increase in pain… mostly back but neck and knees, too. I just assumed it was because I was aging or arthritis, etc. I found your site and was floored. I have classic swayback posture (booo) that I can fix (yay!). Every exercise I’ve been doing FOR YEARS, has been wrong. So I have made a booklet of sorts with the exercises, stretches etc from your pages for swayback, forward neck, rounded shoulders and I just want to make sure that none of those things conflict. I am getting my @&& kicked by pain so much that I slump, tilt and generally do everything that makes it worse but I have confidence that by Christmas I will feel better thanks to you.

    1. Hi Elizabeth!

      Thanks for your comment.

      It sounds like you are motivated to fix your posture.. And that’s awesome!

      You can do both exercises for sway back posture and rounded shoulders at the same time 🙂 They do not conflict.


      1. Thank you! You are AMAZING… and so quick to reply (again with the amazing). I stood straight with both hands to the very bottom of my abdomen or pelvis and pushed in and a bit up because I seem to tilt downward a little and was surprised to see my whole body change-my knees unlocked and my lower back pain eased, it also made it easier to straighten upper back and shoulders. Ummm, what does that mean muscle wise and pelvic tilt wise? Thanks again!

  98. Hey Mark,

    What happens if you have rounded shoulders when you sit down but not when you lay on your back? Do both scenarios have to occur or if at least one occurs does that mean you have rounded shoulders?

    1. Hi Pree,

      If you do not have rounded shoulders when you lay on your back, then you may just have weak muscles that are not keeping your shoulders in the right position (as opposed to tight muscles pulling you forward)

      This means you should focus more on strengthening!


  99. Hi Mark! thanks for the great informations you provide.
    my question is it okay if i do further strengthening moves after these exercise?? (for example some kinda of HIIT workout for upper body). i guess my point is is okay at all to do further workout after these exercises?
    thanks again

    1. Hey Bob,

      You can most definitely do other exercises in conjunction with these exercises.

      Just make sure that you are doing your other exercises with good posture.


  100. Hi Mark,
    I have forward neck posture, Dowager’s hump and rounded shoulders, shoulder blade pain.
    Do I need to do all the exercises that you have mentioned in your blogs on these topics ?. They all put together are many number of exercises routine. Kindly let me know.

    1. Hi Laksmi,

      Essentially – I would do them all to begin with.

      As you become more familiar with the exercises and how you respond to them, you’ll find that you’ll have more of a response to certain exercises than others.

      You can then focus on those specific ones.

      Hope this answers your question.


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