10/22/2007

Stand Tall: Corrective Exercise for Your Upper Body

by Cary Raffle

One of my clients called it "The Wall Street Roll." You know the look, shoulders roll forward, they may seem shrugged, in some cases the head is forward and the back of the hands face forward instead of towards the side of the body.

Some of this may be inherited, but most of it comes from sitting hunched over a keyboard all day. Your shoulders get pulled around in front of you and they just don't go back to where they belong. Down the road, you might experience pain or injury as a result. Common problems include rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis and even headaches. At a minimum, you're not really working the right muscles when you train in poor postural alignment.

The corrective exercise strategy for this posture in pretty straightforward: stretching the muscles that pull the shoulders forward and strengthen the muscles that pull them back. Click here to link to a mini program that you can incorporate into your exercise routine. It is very important to use proper form with these exercises, so please pay careful attention to the notes in the program and let me know if you need some help with them or want a more in depth and personalized program.

Stay away from exercises that are going to make this worse. Earlier editions of this newsletter have covered the "ban" on behind the neck pulldowns, upright rows and behind the neck shoulder presses. Do these exercises over time, and you can kiss your rotator cuff goodbye. You generally also want to avoid incline chest press, front and side raises and overhead shoulder press, depending on the severity of the posture. In some cases, biceps curls - especially hammer curls - can cause pain if the biceps tendon is inflamed where it attaches to the shoulder. If you missed this report or want a refresher, scroll down.