How to Fix the Shoulder Slump

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I constantly see patients with “the shoulder slump,” that rounded-forward posture you get from a life spent working at a desk, driving, texting, and holding kids. All those activities can pull the 17 muscles attached to your shoulder blades out of position and mess up your posture. Do nothing and even basic exercises — push-ups, pull-ups — can lead to rotator-cuff tears, shoulder impingements, and the neck tension that causes headaches. The following moves attack the slump and build stability by releasing tight muscles in the front of your body while strengthening those in your upper back. Do these exercises in order, at least three times a week. You’ll need only a few minutes.

1. Foam roll your lats
Hunching overstretches these muscles. To ease them back into place, lie on one side with a foam roller under your armpit. Roll up and down your lat for 30 seconds; shift so the roller is slightly behind your armpit, and roll for another 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

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2. Use a ball to release pecs
These muscles are shortened from slumping; this move releases them. Stand facing a wall and lean into a lacrosse ball placed two inches below your collarbone, close to your right armpit. For one minute, press into the ball, moving your right shoulder to find tense spots. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Do down-dog push-ups
Now strengthen your shoulders and upper back: Get into a push-up position and lift hips high to form an inverted V-shape, back flat, heels down. Bend elbows out to lower your head to the ground, then push back up. Do three sets of 10.

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