After many years teaching all types of fitness and Pilates one of the most common problems I see is poor posture, in particular round shoulders. My clients are concerned about their posture and ask me, "how can I fix round shoulders" they see it as ageing.
Continual use of computers and mobile phones encourages poor posture and round shoulders, chest muscles are over-worked, back muscles become weak. Now your head is pushed forward creating tension in the back of the neck.
Strengthening your mid-back will help avoid unwanted strain on the neck and back by allowing back muscles to hold and maintain best posture. Avoiding or helping alleviate round shoulder posture.
Using spring tension, Pilates professional equipment will bring awareness to placement of Shoulder-blades when strengthening this area. At the gym avoid focussing mostly on the chest muscles (Pectorals), balance your workout with back and shoulder exercises.
Swimming is also a great way to target these muscles.
The upper back (Thoracic spine) has a natural curve, poor posture can create a hump (Kyphosis) that's stiff, at times painful. Together with a forward head position the potential for neck pain and headaches is increased.
Exercises to work this area in the opposite range of motion are what's needed to lengthen and extend the spine eventually changing posture, counter-acting round shoulders.
A simple way to activate the muscles in your upper back - lay on your front with arms at 90 degrees, keeping your abdominals engaged to support the low back - inhale to lift your head and chest from the floor. Think length rather than lift - depending on mobility in this area the movement may be small - don't force it.
When back muscles become weak and chest muscle are over-active pulling the shoulders forward, quality of breath can be affected. A balanced programme for back extension and flexibility, releasing and opening the front of the chest will help fix round shoulder posture.
Using an elastic resistance band. Stand tall holding the elastic wider than your shoulders, inhale as you pull the band wide, opening the collar bones, engaging your shoulder-blades. Hold this stretch for 2/3 deep breaths then release - repeat 5 times - don't rush use the full breath to control movement rhythm.
A simple wall push up will open the chest and gently work the upper back. Stand away from a wall, place both hands a little wider than shoulders, bend both elbows wide then stretch both arms. Make sure your head does not push forward. Repeat up to 10 times.
We've talked about problems associated with poor posture and how to fix round shoulders with simple exercises. This problem has developed over time, so will take time to fix. However persistance makes perfect. A little attention to this every day - even just noticing how well you're standing or sitting will reap benefits.