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Do not despair if you have bad posture--you are in good company. A forward head and rounded shoulders are typical among modern Americans, due to days filled with computer work, standing in front of a kitchen counter, or even being depressed and tired. Not only does shoulder slump look bad, but it can also result in pain. Fortunately, with patience and some effort, it is fairly easy to fix slumped shoulders.
Before you start an exercise program to correct your slumped shoulders, make sure you in fact have slumped shoulders. You can find out a couple of ways.
Stand the way you would normally stand with your back to a wall. Your shoulder blades and buttocks should meet the wall. If your shoulders are more than a half-inch away from it, you have slumped shoulders. The farther away they are, the bigger the need to correct them.
Another way to check your posture is to have a friend take a photo of you from the side with your shirt off. Again, stand like you normally would. If you can draw a straight line from your ear through your shoulder, hip, and ankle, your posture is fine.
The first exercise is called chin tucks. If you can imagine a turtle retracting his head inside his shell, you know what this is. You can do it standing or sitting. It is a good idea to stand with your back against a wall and tuck your chin down and in so that your neck meets the wall. Your shoulders will follow backward. Do it 10 times per set, several times per day. After a week, add a set until you do three sets at a time.
Your next exercise is shoulder squeezes. According to physical therapist Alexandra Kalnitsky, "shoulder squeezes involve bringing your elbows behind you while squeezing your shoulder blades together. This exercise should be performed 10 to 20 times while holding the squeeze for a count of five." Do it various times per day.
Stretches will also help unslump your shoulders. Find a foam roller. Most gyms have them today. It looks like a long cylinder made out of hard foam. Put it under and along your spine. Extend your arms to the sides and bend them in a ninety-degree angle so that the palms are facing the ceiling. It will open up your chest muscles.
You also want to stretch your lats. Turn the roller so that it is across your mid back. (Along your breast bone.) You may want to bunch up a towel under your head. Extend your arms toward the ceiling and then let them fall down to the floor, above your head.
Hold both stretches for a few minutes every day.
Last, make sure you do not over train your lats, anterior delts, and pecs at the gym. This is especially important for men, who tend to focus on these muscle groups a lot more than women. If you know that you have slumped shoulders, do more back exercises focusing on the rear delts, mid traps, and the rhomboids instead. Use a trainer for one session and ask him about which exercises you can do if you cannot figure it out on your own. It is worth the money.