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6 Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders

  Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders

6 Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders


I can’t help but notice that a lot of young people these days have hunched/rounded shoulders and very poor posture. Take a look around you and you’ll see it, too. Look in the mirror – you may even be one of them.


I find it alarming that such young people are already getting rounded shoulders. But I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised because these days most people spend the majority of the day sitting and doing things with their arms in front of them like typing, texting, driving, playing video games, etc.


But we aren’t designed to do this – humans were made to move! When most people sit at a desk or look at their computer or phone, they drop their chin, tilt their head forward and round their shoulders. Caught you, didn’t I?! 


Other people generally at risk to develop rounded shoulders are people (especially men) who like to workout just their biceps and chest and neglect their back. If they don’t already have rounded shoulders from doing this, they are likely to get them due to muscle imbalances (another reason to work your entire body – not just the areas you want to look good). Older folks tend to get rounded shoulders from lack of flexibility, years and years of poor posture and it not being corrected. People who drive a lot get used to sitting in a position where they slump forward. Those who hold children or cook all day also are at a greater risk. Anyone sitting at a desk for a large part of the day have a much greater tendency to get the dreaded shoulder hunch. Runners and cyclists also round their shoulders due to the nature of the sport.


When you spend the majority of your time with your arms in front of you, it becomes habit for your body to round the shoulders. As a result, the muscles in the upper back and neck strain, overstretch and overwork. The chest muscles shorten, the small muscles between the shoulder blades weaken and the back muscles stretch and lengthen. Smaller muscles that are not designed to be postural muscles have to work doing a job they were not designed to do.


And all this poor posture can have a tremendous impact on our health. Poor posture causes all sorts of muscle and ligament imbalances which can lead to chronic back, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, fatigue, difficulty breathing and other more devastating health problems. If you are having pain, it’s important to see a physical therapist and/or a chiropractor who can help your muscle imbalances and align your spine properly.


When your body is aligned it means that your heels, knees, pelvis, and neck are directly stacked on top of each. Your body will not only be able to move so much more efficiently, but you will be able to carry heavier loads, tire less easily, have better digestion and will be less susceptible to injury.

The good news is that the earlier we catch our rounded shoulders and bad posture and take steps to correct it, the greater and faster the results. And if you’ve had bad posture and rounded shoulders for awhile, be patient. With gentle yoga poses and stretches like the ones below, you will start to see excellent posture results over time. You will also notice increased shoulder flexibility and less chance of shoulder injuries.


These stretches, yoga poses and exercises are very important to work into your regular training program for improved posture and to combat rounded shoulders. If you sit at a desk or have your arms out in front of you for a large portion of the day (driving, texting, typing, etc.), it’s extra important that you do these as often as you can.


6 Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders:


The first 3 can be done sitting on a chair, standing, kneeling, or sitting on the floor. These are great stretches for someone with a desk or office job and can be done (and highly recommended) anytime throughout the day.


  1. Back Bound Hand Pose

  2. Shoulder Squeeze

  3. Cow face Pose


    These 3 yoga poses are excellent for expanding and stretching the chest, strengthening and reducing tightness of the shoulders, releasing tension in the back, all which will give you excellent results for rounded shoulders and better posture.


    1. Baby Cobra Pose

    2. Bridge Pose

    3. Camel Pose


Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders
Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together and bring both arms and hands behind you. Grab the right elbow with the left hand and then grab the left elbow with your right hand. If this is too hard, grab your wrist or forearm with the opposite hand. Take a few deep breaths. Lift your chest and keep your shoulder blades down and back. Now repeat by grabbing your left elbow with your right hand this time.
Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders
Bring your shoulder blades down and back and clasp your hands behind you. Slowly lift your arms as far as you are comfortable as you squeeze your shoulder blades together. I like to pretend there is an orange in between my shoulders and I am trying to squeeze the juice out of it by my shoulders. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles as you are doing this stretch.
Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders
Place the back of your left hand on your lower back and slide it up as far as it will comfortably go. Now stretch your right arm up and bend your elbow reaching behind you to grab your left hand. This is difficult, so if you can’t do it, do not worry. Just go as far as you comfortably can and over time you will get better and better. Remember to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders down and back. Hold for a few breath cycles (30 seconds or so) and then repeat sides.
Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders
Lie on your stomach with your hand directly beside your shoulders. Inhale and slowly press yourself up, keeping your elbows bent. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and then come back down.
Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders
Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Take a deep breath and raise your hips off the floor as high as you are comfortable going. Now draw your shoulders down and back and clasp your hands together if possible. Try to reach them as far to your feet as possible. Breathe deeply for a few breath cycles and lower your body gently to the floor.
Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders
Kneel on the floor with your back to a chair. Keep your feet hip width apart and grasp the chair with your hands. Now push your pelvis forward and lift your chest to the sky. Breathe deeply as you keep pushing your shoulder blades back and down and keep lifting your chest as far as you can comfortably go. Hold this pose for a few breath cycles.


Don’t forget to Pin this image on Pinterest so you can keep it handy:

Stretches to Prevent Rounded Shoulders  PrimallyInspired.com


Primally Inspired

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  1. Avatar

    You read my mind!!! I really needed some guidance on this area! Thanks!!!

  2. Avatar

    Thanks so much for the great posture and stress relief poses. As reminders, I moved them to my aciton folder on my pc, AND moved my mat beside my desk. Feel better already! You are the best.

  3. Avatar

    Great stretches and yoga poses! Thanks for reminding me that I should be doing these much more often. I love your website 🙂

  4. Avatar

    For chronic neck ieusss from sitting at computer, make sure you keep your eye over your shoulder over your hips. In other words, no forward head posture. Make sure your computer screen is eye level, even if you must raise your screen. Good luck!

  5. Avatar

    Thanks so much for posting this. I just went to my massage therapist and she mentioned that I have rounded shoulders…EEEK! I’m going to try those stretches! Thanks 🙂

  6. Avatar

    Hi there! I am working on my rounded shoulders now and did all of these exercises tonight. It feels so good to stretch the chest! My question is…can rounded shoulders really be fixed? No matter how straight I stand up, my shoulders aren’t completely straight with my back, they round forward. If I were to do these twice a day, will it take a few months? I’m desperate for good posture!

    • Primally Inspired

      So glad you are doing the exercises and these will definitely help your posture. And yes, the rounded shoulders can be fixed!! Even when they are finally fixed, you still should be doing these stretches for good posture and to prevent the problem (especially if you work a desk job!). How long it will take really depends on the severity of the problem (I know that’s not the answer you were looking for, but it’s true).

  7. Avatar

    I love what you are doing here Missy!!! Thank you. Hugs, Denise

  8. Avatar

    Mmmm seems like Im the only guy here!?

    I always had an issue with my stance so will try these see if this improves it. Thanks 🙂

  9. Avatar

    Any suggestions for workout DVD’s that might help with this?

  10. Avatar

    Oh wow, totally just did these and my shoulders feel SOOOOO much better!

  11. Avatar

    I just stumbled upon this on Pinterest, and I’m going to try it right away! I have a very large chest, and over the years it has really affected my posture. Hopefully this will help me out! Thanks for the tips!

  12. Avatar

    Just what I needed! Any way to lose the “armpit fat” or upper body back fat? I feel like that has an effect on my posture. I’m healthy and my weight is perfect I just have “bad” genes.(semi-wide back) I just started to exercise a lot more. I’m in college and my major is Kinesiology so this stuff interests me and I’m always looking for more info on these things!

  13. Avatar
    Susan Collinsworth

    Thank you so much! With a few moves, I feel better! These release energy, too. your pictures and directions are so clear.

  14. Avatar

    I’ve been looking for soooo many different type of simple exercises that i can actually do at my desk. Not many out there that seem to work for me. Thank you so much for sharing. I just started doing these exercises today so i’ll check in with you couple months from now to let you know how they’ve worked for me. Thanks again for your time


  15. Avatar

    Thank you so much for the great exercises to combat poor posture.
    In our modern lifestyle, our work, fun, socializing, commuting involves computers and devices that are “killing” our body posture.
    I feel lucky to have found your blog. God Bless !

  16. Avatar

    Got to be kidding. If I could do those poses, I wouldn’t have pain. I need a magic pose that doesn’t cry, “PAIN!”.

  17. Avatar

    Totally did these moves and felt relieve. Any moves for the neck and fingers.

  18. Avatar

    After bilateral bursitis in my shoulders they have never been the same. These are the best stretches I have found to help regain proper alaignment and posture. THANK YOU,

  19. Avatar

    These are just what Ive been looking for and exactly my problem! I’ve been suffering from impingement syndrome in my shoulder for 4 months now- and although I am modifying my crossfit wods and doing nothing overhead, and doing the exercises my physical therapist has given me to strengthen my upper back, I still have pain. I knew I had to stretch more before/after workouts but could only think of a few stretches. I can tell that since I can’t actually reach my hands to eachother in that second pose that this will help stretch me out. I hope hope hope I can get back to lifting like normal with a few months of these added to my PT exercises. Thanks!

  20. Avatar

    I would add that these stretches would probably work best in combination with working with a good chiropractor. In my opinion, most people have had poor posture long enough that spinal alterations have taken place than can’t simply be fixed by stretching. Along with getting adjusted, stretches & strengthening are great though for prevention of future deterioration and permanent postural distortions.

  21. Avatar

    After having three babie sin four year and nursing all of them, my posture took a beating! It was so easy just to slump forward and round my shoulders while nursing them. I’ve done these streches a few times and I can feel a difference! Thank you!

  22. Avatar

    I am 60 and have had pain for years due to job and poor posture. Is it too late to undo the damage my shoulders are very rounded

  23. Avatar

    the third stretch, I am able to do it with my right arm above my head, but when I try with my left arm above my head, my right arm cant reach far enough up to grab onto my left hand… any stretches to fix that? or will enough of these stretches help?

    • Primally Inspired

      Hi Kayla! You’ll want to keep doing this stretch to help, but you’ll need some modifications. Grab a belt with your left hand (or towel, a band, rolled up shirt, etc.) and toss it down your back. Keep your arm as pictured – the only difference will be you’ll have a belt in your hand. Now reach your right arm as far up on the belt as is comfortably possible. Hold the stretch there. If you consistently do this, you’ll notice you’ll be able to reach up the belt farther and farther and soon, you’ll be able to grab your left hand.

  24. Avatar

    In the last stretch, shouldn’t the hands be placed the other way (palms out)? It looks like the shoulders are internally rotated in the picture, which would only cause the shoulders to round more or cause too much tension within the ligaments, no? Otherwise, I’d say those are fabulous stretches to do daily!

  25. Avatar

    So pleased my Google search picked this page up – have tried some of these to correct my ‘computer generated’ horribly rounded shoulders. Will keep going on them (as well as some sports therapy) and am sure they’ll help. Thank you!

  26. Avatar

    thank you so much for such informative article:) I’m one of those guys who workout hard to get big chest muscles, biceps, shoulders and… so i do have big muscles now and i do look good 😀 but actually im suffering because of my postural problems and my rounded shoulders and my muscles imbalance which gave me TMJ disorder and unbearable migraines and neck pain too:/ now im seeing an osteopath she is helping me to loose my muscles up first and then i can start to practice posture exercises. but i wanted to ask you about some painless crackling in the neck that i experience with some movements sometimes like tilting my head back, my osteopath assure me that noises will be gone when i fix my posture and get everything aligned ,so what do you think, is that true?:)

  27. Avatar

    Thank you so much! This is exactly what I need to combat my tight, slumping shoulders.

  28. Avatar

    Can you recommend anything easier for those of us already rouunded? I broke my C7 about two years ago and am still struggling to increase strength and flexibility, I can’t even do the second pose on this series. Thanks!

  29. Avatar

    What do you think about the use of back braces/posture correctors to help with rounded shoulders? I have heard two different opinions: 1) they are a good supplement to a program of exercise + stretching and 2) they are not good because they end up doing the work for the muscles and the muscles never get retrained to properly support the back, neck and head.

  30. Avatar

    Thank you so much:)
    Now I can start my exercise daily with this stretches…

  31. Avatar

    Hi, thanks for these really good exercises. I’ve had rounded shoulders for a very long time and I was wondering how many reps can I do per day. I’ve tried several other exercises before but when I over-exercised my neck hurt a lot for days so I stopped doing them (I did some exercises for neck posture, too). I don’t wanna do the same mistake again, so if you could answer I’d be really glad ^^

  32. Avatar

    When i do push ups my right shoulder goes forward and so i get muscle imbalance in pecs and shoulders. But i dont have round shoulders , the right one rounds when i do chest exercises and i have been troubleing with it for a long time . Please help?

  33. Avatar

    Hi! This is great! I have terrible posture that leads to migraines and chronic back and neck pain and I’m only 29! I have a question though.. If I can’t touch my hands together on the cow face pose, is it because of my rounded shoulders?? I don’t recall having issues doing that I college or high school. Thanks!!

  34. Avatar

    Thx alote i just tried this exersise and it felt amazing on my sholders, i was just wondering how long you think it will take to fix my problem it is pretty bad, if i do these 2 times a day thx again

    • Primally Inspired

      It’s so hard to say, Blake since everyone is different. You should start to see an improvement in about a month. But keep going, even after you see those improvements. These are stretches you should continue to incorporate into your life at least a couple times a week to help with good posture and flexibility. They will also help you age much more gracefully, which is always nice, too 🙂

  35. Avatar

    Ok thx for your help awsome stretches btw

  36. Avatar

    Due to my scoliosis, I have issues with rounded shoulders. Thank you so much for the pictures of each pose. That is very helpful!

  37. Avatar

    This is perfect! I so need to remember this…especially since nursing and cosleeping, my body takes a beating 😉 I will be sure to do this several times a day. Thanks, Kelly!

  38. Avatar

    for the round shoulder or Kyphosis exercises, posterior muscle are weak need strengthening mid Trapezius and romboid deep muscle Do close grip seated row anterior muscle short tight need stretching specially on pectoralis major chest muscle.

  39. Avatar

    Awesome poses. I’ve been incorporating these stretches to my daily workout ever since I read about them here 🙂

  40. Avatar

    I wonder if we should warm up before doing those stretches. Thank you.

  41. Avatar

    Just what I needed to come across and felt about a foot taller after doing this once!

    Several contributing factors to my rounded shoulders inc stress, a bad chair and my shoulders taking a lot of weight from my bra.

    Have put diary reminder in three times a day every day to to this.

    Thank you!

  42. Avatar

    At first I couldn’t do the cow face pose with my right arm down, but after practice I’m now able to link my hands when I attempt! Still not perfect but I’m surprised at the progress I made! I’ve been incorporating these stretches and I feel great!

  43. Avatar

    I’ve unfortunately been notified that I’m beginning to get rounded shoulders and a hump. Will this help reverse this?

    • Primally Inspired

      Yes, Kate! This will help fix rounded shoulders! It’s not an instant fix, but it does really work so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see progress right away. Some people have taken a side view picture of themselves and then every few months they take another. You’ll really start to see the difference these stretches can make that way. Sometimes it’s hard to keep at stuff like this, especially if you feel like you are not seeing progress – so those before/after pics are really motivating to keep at it (at least they are for me!).

  44. Avatar

    This is something I see all too often in my office. I will definitely be adding a few of these stretches to the current ones I have my patients performing. Thanks!

  45. Avatar

    The bridge pose is great for strengthening the glutes, too – which is a body part a lot of us need to strengthen due to how much we all sit around nowadays. And hey, your booty can never be too strong!

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