People often complain about rounded shoulders. There are many fitness exercises for correcting this problem but the Alexander Technique perspective is a little different. Exercise is important, but no matter how many corrective strengthening exercises you do, posture is mostly the result of postural habits and how you perceive your body. The following tips can help you make better choices about your shoulders whether or not you exercise.
1 Rounded shoulders?
While everyone can benefit from these tips, your shoulders may not be as rounded as you think. People often want straight lines in their bodies but there are no straight lines in the body. The body is made of curves, every bone is curved, and a gentle curve across the upper back is normal. I like to think of the body as an arch made of arches or a spring made of springs. By thinking about these tips you might find greater openness and strength within the arch across your upper back.
2 Your shoulders are behind you .
Your shoulders support your arms and their structure comes mostly from the back of your torso, not the front. You may think that your shoulders are in front of you, but it helps to think of them as behind you. Take a moment to feel both of your shoulder blades with your hands and also feel where your arms attach to your shoulders. After that, feel your shoulder blades again and try to be a little more aware of the back of your upper torso.
3 Where are your shoulders going?
Whether or not your shoulders are overly rounded, most people do tend to narrow the upper back at least to some extent. This same habit of drawing parts of the body inward is probably not limited to your shoulders, but is repeated through the body.
4 Do not pull your shoulders back.
Pulling your shoulders backward narrows the back of your torso and continues the habit of drawing the body inward (back and inward instead of forward and inward). Pulling your shoulders back is also tiring, makes moving your arms almost impossible (you can not move your arms freely while pulling your shoulders back) and it imposes breathing because the bones of the shoulders have to move in response to your breath.
5 Allow your shoulders to drift away from each other.
People ask me what they should do with their shoulders and where they should put them. The answer requires some imagination. If the upper back is a springy kind of arch, then the end of the shoulders would tend to go away from each other like the ends of an archer's bow. Instead of actively drawing the shoulders forward or back, or doing anything with them, imagine that they are drifting away from each other. You can also think of that in several other ways:
- Gently point your shoulders away from each other as if you are pointing your fingers.
- Place each thumb on the end of its corresponding shoulder and imagine a very great distance from one thumb to the other.
- Imagine your shoulders filling up the space on either side of you.
One of the goals of the Alexander Technique is to help you improve your idea about how your body works and how the parts of your body relate to each other. Sometimes just a new conception of your body can foster improvement in how it looks and functions.