Rounded shoulders killing your gains?


First, I’ll start by explaining some of the areas spoken about in this article…

Lumbar spine - Lower back

Thoracic spine - Mid/Upper back

Cervical spine – Neck


Now we’ve cleared that up, let’s dive in.

Good posture can be compromised due to the day to day environments we find ourselves stuck in. The accumulative effect of being hunched over your computer, on your phones and prolonged driving can all play a role in leading to what you may know as ‘desk based posture’. These postural issues can be a real negative when we then expose you to higher loads and increased movement complexity when in the gym. If your posture resembles that of Quasimodo and we dump a heavy bar on your back and ask you to squat, the likelihood of that ending well is pretty low.

 This exercise will play a role in rectifying these postural issues to ensure you can move better and feel more comfortable when trying to master certain positions in both the gym & everyday life. Because of this, injury risk will go down and performance levels should be on the up.


The Goal 

To promote extension through your thoracic spine, counteracting rounding of the shoulders & desk based posture (thoracic kyphosis) that may be restricting overhead position.

We must ensure this is a controlled motion and we are extending through the correct segment, so maintaining a neutral head position and not excessively extending through your cervical spine (neck) is important, we also want to ensure we aren’t getting too much extension through your lumbar spine also (lower back).

You can carry out a shoulder flexion test to see if you can move freely overhead, but generally speaking if your bum sticks out every time you press overhead, you will benefit from some extra range of motion at your thoracic spine.


Technique tips 

  Maintain neutral head position, think apple under chin (Don’t excessively extended through cervical spine)

 Ensure Roller is positioned at the correct segment you are trying to influence

 Place hands behind your head and pin your elbows in

 Ensure your ribs don’t flare, lock rib cage down 

 Controlled movement, don’t carry out aggressively

 Range of motion is individual dependant, arch around the roller and come back up to neutral position.

  This is not a crunch.


The rep range 

12 total reps - 4 reps at each segment of thoracic spine.


When do I do it?

This can be done at anytime throughout the day, some of my clients even have a roller next to their desks and every couple of areas, try and undo some of the their sitting. In the gym, this would feature as part of your warm ups, to help you master certain positions in the main component of your workouts.



Disclaimer - This exercise won’t solve your posture issues on it’s own. Being more consciously aware of your posture each day and reducing your time spent sitting are two basic interventions. 

When it comes to how you can influence this in the gym, some simple steps would be to reduce the amount of pushing work (especially chest work) and increasing the amount of horizontal pulling work (Think seated row’s) as high volumes of chest work will likely pull your shoulders into a more rounded position. 


Written by Dan Lawrence - @Perform365 Head of Performance at Match room Boxing



Manor London