Postural issues have run amuck in today’s society. And it’s not really a big surprise how this has happened. For years now, people have been stuck in the seated position. With the evolution of technology – television to computers, computers to laptops, laptops to cell-phones we are stuck in these positions. If you’re like me, you like watching sports. If you’re like me, you also like watching Netflix. And finally, if you’re like me (I LOVE reading/writing) you’re sitting in front of a laptop reading this. Now, unlike most, I get to train clients and be on my feet for at least a few hours per day. But this alone can’t and won’t save my posture. Why would we need to save posture anyways? Lower back pain continues to rise… but something else is catching up. Shoulder pain. Yup you heard that right. Shoulder pain specifically pain in the front of the shoulders continues to rise and is now right on the tail of low back pain for most common areas of pain for the average person. Many people are in this seated and “slouched” position ALL DAY. You wake up, sit down and look at your phone, sit down and drive to work, get to work and sit at your desk over your computer or phone, only to come home and sit in a slouched position on the couch in front of your TV and phone or other devices. Forward head and rounded shoulders is the new norm. Because of this, we become disconnected from the back side of our body, and the front of our shoulders and chest become tight and restricted. This can cause acute pain in the front side of our body. BUT, the pain might not actually be the pain…
The pain in the shoulder (in many cases, NOT all) is actually because of a lack of connection and strength in the upper back. Through endless amounts of slouching, we have developed poor patterns that throw the spine out of neutral alignment. So how do we combat that? It’s going to come down to putting in work to repattern the shitty “slouch” so many of us have from all of this technology and modern lifestyle. So how do we do that? We hammer the upper back and stabilizer muscles of the shoulder. The answer isn’t getting shots of cortisone where you have pain. That’s a band-aid solution. If you want to get out of pain for life, you must get stronger and create better patterns. This goes for anything in the body. Strength is the best way to set yourself up for a pain free life. We have to train with weights and focus on the foundational movement patterns (a term coined by Dr. John Rusin). But this article is about correcting posture for proper shoulder health.
Not only are people slouching most of the time (and doing everything in the front of their body and ignoring the back side), but people go into the gym and hammer away at pressing exercises. This only adds to dysfunction if the pressing isn’t properly programmed with 2-3x as much pulling. Guys who are benching and overhead pressing without the “prehab” exercises I’m going to talk about are doing themselves a serious disservice and won’t ever maximize pressing movements because they have nothing to press off of (which would be a thick and strong upper back). So, what exercises do I need to be performing to ensure proper shoulder health?
The exercises I am going to talk about are simple, and all you need is a band. The first exercise is a banded face pull. If you’re a client of mine, you know this is a staple. Check out the video on the face pull HERE. The next exercise is the band pull-a-part. Another great exercise that hammers home the importance of upper back strength in regard to having healthy shoulders. HERE is the video for how to perform pull-a-parts. The last exercise is the seated row. Although this isn’t as much of an upper back exercise, it is an exercise that teaches depression of the shoulders, and at the same time retraction of the scapula. This is key for a society that has chronically elevated shoulders from the endless amounts of time in the “slouched” position. HERE is the video for how to perform seated rows.
The shoulders and upper back are comprised of a lot of small stabilizer muscles that thrive with a lot of stimulation. Meaning, doing these things quite often with a lot of volume will yield very good results for not only getting you out of chronic shoulder pain, but also repatterning your movement so your shoulders are pulled back and you’re in better spinal alignment. Simply put: improving posture is all about repetition. If you can improve posture, you’ll not only decrease the likelihood of shoulder issues, but also chronic low back pain and other common issues. The underlying message of all of this is strength. If you’re not practicing the modality of strength training, and want to improve your quality of life, it is NEVER too late to start.