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.

Pilates for forward head position

Fix Round Shoulders

Strengthen Mid-Back

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.

Strengthen and mobilise upper back to fix round shoulders

Swimming is also a great way to target these muscles.

Develop Flexibility in the upper back

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.

Avoid round shoulders

Back Extension

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.

Stretch Your Chest

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.

Wall Push Up to fix round shoulders

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.

In Conclusion

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.

5 Reasons to Do Pilates

Why Pilates?

You may have been thinking about doing Pilates but you're not sure about the benefits, after all it's more expensive than most exercise classes available to you.   Here are a few reasons that may help you make a good decision:

  1.  Improve Your Game:  Whether that's Golf, Football, Rugby, Tennis or any other sport you may enjoy.  Regular Pilates will stabilise your Pelvis and Shoulder girdle to reduce the risk of injury from repetitive behaviours like hitting the golf ball numerous times during a round, or over extending your back when you serve that tennis ball.  All Pilates exercises require concentration to create the best alignment of the upper and lower body before the challenge of movement.  Concentration is a fundamental principle of the Pilates technique.
  2. Increase Range of Motion:  When you practice Pilates regularly you'll find improvement in the flexibility of your muscles which in turn will allow your joints to move more freely. This is particularly important for sports recovery and as we age.  Not everything has to be about living life dynamically - our everyday activities require us to be mobile and flexible to reach for the top shelf or turn around to reach something on the back seat of the car.  Of course if you play sport you'll need speedy reactions as well as the ability to move instinctively.  Pilates is a full mind and body exercise programme that will help you improve and maintain mobility and flexibility, balance and coordination in your daily life.
  3. Help You Avoid Low Back Pain:  We all sit too much, whether that's at our desk job or we need to drive long distance frequently.  Sitting for long periods of time effects the muscles in our legs and hips which in turn affects our low back by pulling the pelvis into a backward tilt.  Learning how to activate your deep stabilising muscles in the correct sequence with your larger more superficial muscles will not only improve your posture but with regular practice, your brain will register the movement pattern for best placement of your hips and shoulders to avoid the low back pain associated with poor posture.
  4. You Don't Need Special Kit:  Unlike many sports and exercise programme you can take a Pilates class without expensive shoes or clothing.  As long as what you wear allows you to move freely that's all you need to think about.  There's no dress code.!
  5. Everyone Is Welcome:  Pilates is a great exercise system.  It's adaptable to all ages and fitness levels.  From 18 - 80+ there's a programme for you.  Many sporty people feel the need to stop as they age because of various issues with joints and muscles - this is not the case for your Pilates practice.  Exercises can be modified to suit your individual needs even if it means you decide that a 30 minutes session is most effective .

So there you have it - there are many more good reasons to begin your Pilates practice but these are just a handful to set you thinking.

Any Questions just email - I'm here to help.

Nuala Coombs
Pilates For You
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