Hmm...You Have Rounded (aka "Mom") Shoulders. Now What?


Rounded shoulders give the body a slumped appearance, protruding forward from the spine, whether you’re trying to sit or stand straight.  Palms facing backward (vs. facing inward) while your arms are by your side is another indication that you may have rounded shoulders.  Also, you might not be able to lift your hands above your head.

Rounded shoulders are also known as “mom” shoulders, because women who have gone through pregnancy typically develop unstable, weakened core muscles, which leave them susceptible to rounded shoulders.  But, wait a minute.  You may not be a mom or even a woman...and you’re exhibiting symptoms of “mom” shoulders.  What’s going on?

What Causes Rounded Shoulders?

Anyone can get their own set of rounded (aka “mom”) shoulders – moms, dads, childless men and women, the old and the young – because rounded (aka “mom”) shoulders are not caused by pregnancy.  They are caused by poor posture.

Looking down and forward for long stretches of time causes rounded shoulders, as well as other posture issues like forward head position and tilted pelvis. Activities that sometimes encourage poor posture, can make people susceptible to developing rounded shoulders. These include:

  • Using a computer or laptop
  • Reading
  • Texting
  • Driving

More Than a Label: Symptoms of Rounded (aka “Mom”) Shoulders

Rounded (aka “mom”) shoulders cause certain muscle groups to weaken while creating tension in others. Since the spinal column connects the neck, shoulders and back to the rest of the body, rounded (aka “mom”) shoulders will often lead to issues throughout the body.  

Here is a checklist to help you determine if you have rounded (aka “mom”) shoulders:

  • The palms of your hands face backward (vs. inward) when you stand with your arms by your side
  • You lack mobility and flexibility in the shoulders; lifting your hands above your head is a struggle
  • Whether you are resting or moving, you still suffer pain, stiffness and tension in your shoulders, neck and back
  • You have joint pain
  • You feel numbness, tingling and weakness in your shoulder region
  • A hump can be seen protruding from the back of your neck, even when you stand straight
  • You experience constant headaches
  • You have difficulty breathing
  • You have trouble sleeping

Easy Rounded Shoulder Relief

  • Pillow Positioning- Use three pillows to sleep on your side and protect your shoulders. Place one between knees, one under your waist and use the third to support your neck.
  • 60-Second Relief- Release tension with acupressure. Locate your trapezius (neck/shoulder muscles). Apply pressure for 60 seconds and release. Repeat until tension melts away.

Trade the Minivan for a Muscle Car

Pillows and massage relieve tension and pain, but cannot correct rounded shoulders. Try these exercises and stretches:

  • Door Stretch- Standing in a doorway, grasp either side of the frame just above head-height. Lunge one foot forward. Hold 30 seconds.
  • Hand Clasp- Clasp hands behind back. Pull shoulders together without neck protruding forward. Hold 30 seconds.
  • Shoulder Squeeze- Sitting straight, squeeze shoulders together. Shoulders should move down, away from ears. Hold 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  • Wall Angle - Rest with back against wall and feet 12 to 18-inches away. Squeezing shoulder blades with forearms against wall, raise arms above head and lower. Begin with one set of 10 repetitions.

Whether you are a man, woman or even if you are a mom who wears high-waisted pants and cruises in a minivan, you don't have to sport rounded (aka "mom”) shoulders.  No one does!  Practice proper posture when you drive, work, sleep or play to keep your shoulders strong and your body pain-free.  Trade the proverbial minivan for a high-performing muscle car! 

[Modified keyword: "Rounded Shoulders" "Mom Shoulders"]