Posture Help (Rolling Shoulders Forward...)

I've been tweaking myself towards ideal posture for a while, and cannot get this last part done and am hoping for some ideas.
I have a tendency to kinda roll my shoulders forward, as if my chest (and/or traps) were tight/flexed. When I try correcting it, as soon as I'm not paying attn to it, my 'instinct' is to correct it the wrong way- ie, I push my chest out a little more, tilt my head back a little more, but don't actually correct the position of the shoulders relative to ribs (as in, I think it's merely a matter of a forward-tilt of my collarbone)

It seems that tight pecs can cause this, but as far as I know my entire body is very very flexible - far more than most. I've begun focusing on stretching my chest several times daily, to no avail.

I've always done this, and it is very subtle (ie I don't think I 'appear' to be doing this to others, but I definitely am and I know it's not proper posture, and I wanna fix it. I just started adding REAL deep flyes to my chest sessions to help, although i'm not even sure that will make any difference; in fact, sometimes I fear that chest training has the potential to worsen this)

I'm lost..

[edit: I've also been biking far more than I should be the past weeks, am thinking that could be exacerbating this, particularly when I go over an hour w/o getting off and stretching..]


  • Evan BrandEvan Brand Writer and Explorer

    I recently recorded a podcast with Dr. Tony Maxwell on posture, how to sit stand, etc. I feel like I stand like a monkey all the time, hoping to fix it day by day.


    Anyway.. Here's the episode, hope this helps. Podcast #48 Dr. Maxwell on Proper Sitting, Standing and Foundational Exercises

    Evan Brand, NTP, CPT

    Functional Medicine Practitioner and Podcast Host at

    Author of REM Rehab and Stress Solutions

  • I don't(won't) use itunes.. is that the only venue you've made it available through?

    Oh- another factor (I think) is that I subconsciously try to keep my arms close to my side, so as not to look like 'a beast/macho-douche' lol. Muscle on a small frame stands out enough as-is, I've always tried keeping my arms quite close..
  • wtfgodwtfgod
    edited October 2013

    not to keen with anatomy, but my guess would be you want to work on your back muscles as opposed to your chest. pullup and row type stuff, possibly along with some 'doorway stretching'.


    and yes, trying to correct your posture by pushing your chest out is not correct. unless ofcourse you are bodybuilder status and your muscles are so out of balance that it is required.

  • I do work my back (it's actually one of my stronger points ;) ) Are you thinking that a stronger back would 'pull' the scapula in-line or something?
  • Evan BrandEvan Brand Writer and Explorer

    I don't(won't) use itunes.. is that the only venue you've made it available through?

    Oh- another factor (I think) is that I subconsciously try to keep my arms close to my side, so as not to look like 'a beast/macho-douche' lol. Muscle on a small frame stands out enough as-is, I've always tried keeping my arms quite close..

    Hey Johnny. I use stitcher as well. Stitcher

    Evan Brand, NTP, CPT

    Functional Medicine Practitioner and Podcast Host at

    Author of REM Rehab and Stress Solutions

  • thanks a ton jason, that sounds very much like what I was looking for :D Will check supple leopard, too!

    not paleo- thanks will check that also :)
  • Definitely do the lacrosse ball like Jason was saying. Also, get used to the habit of foam rolling daily. I'd also recommend checking out the encyclopedia of joint mobility (I'll link below). This DVD has made a HUGE difference in my life, particularly the hip mobility series. There are portions dedicated to neck, shoulder, ankle and wrist mobility respectively. I never realized how tight everything was until after incorporating these active stretches into my life. Static stretching only does so much in my opinion.


  • thanks again guys! I've started teh exercises and, in doing so all day yesterday, was putting a large amount of focus on my posture the whole day. I found that the issue was certainly caused by my tendency to keep my arms in; I'm trying to get used to (psychologically/habit) being in the proper posture while standing/walking which, honestly, makes me feel ridiculous (like I'm trying to 'flare' my arms out, like macho-style lol)

    The exercises/stretches recommended will be invaluable in helping the muscles/joints fall in-line while correcting my walk/stance and getting used to it. Appreciate this very very much :)
  • four key fundamentals for you to focus on:


    1) external rotation of the humorous (shoulder) - trying to get your armpit forward. stand with your arms by your side and supinate your hands (palms forward) that's part one of a stable should position.


    2) pull the bottom of your shoulder blades down and together (imagine trying to pinch something between them) this will draw your shoulders back, correct your spine a little and pull your rib cage forward to a natural position.


    3) get your ears in line with your shoulders whilst looking directly forward- this will activate thoracic extension and aid point 2


    4) learn to stabilise your lower spine by gently  tensing your abs (as if someone was about to hit you in the stomach), but make sure you do this as you exhale so you don't encourage a bloated belly look. Again this will correct spinal position faults and stop the rib cage popping forward 'too much'


    5) bonus - squeeze your butt - this fixes the pelvis in your natural stable position for you and helps everything upstream.

  • Sounds like a lot of people on here have read their Starrett! He is a great man, doing God's work. 


    I also struggle with forward shoulder position from a computer-all-day job, which even a standing desk can't completely prevent. 


    I've had great success with the MobilityWOD/Becoming a Supple Leopard routines, but have gone to another level by starting yoga a few weeks ago. 


    You can't appreciate how profoundly tight you are until you do yoga.


    It is in many ways the perfect activity, an exercise-meditation combo. It shapes muscles in an attractive way, promotes mobility, mindfulness, proper breathing. 


    In general, always be thinking "down, and back" with your shoulders in mind. 


    Also, do this mobilization exercise: 



  • I have some clicking in my clavicle now that is painless during internal rotation of my arm. I notice it when I bring my elbow down and across my body during Muay Thai. I also have a history of a crunching scapula and left shoulder
  • Hey all,

    Similar to Dave Asprey's motivation to bio hack diet, I have been bio hacking posture for about 8 years now. Being both a desk "athlete" and volleyball athlete, I have been through the ringer with shoulder problems since 2008. I've been through a number of physical therapists, tried a bunch of methods including foam rolling and lacrosse ball techniques, art, pt exercises, all of which I can say help to relieve any pain symptoms in the short term but don't seem to be a long term fix.

    When thinking about posture, I have found many pts proscribe to the language or idea: "shoulders back, scapula down, chest up." The problem with this paradigm I have found, is that it tends to make you engage your scapula when, in actuality, you want to be relaxing it. Ie: I became so paranoid about my posture that now its hard to get my scapula/trap to relax and not engage.

    Now what I would say is this best and most simple way to think about good posture is with hip alignment. If your hips are in the right place, everything else will follow.

    So instead, think "hips forward, pelvis back." essentially you are relaxing your abdominals, rolling your hips forward while simultaneously rolling your pelvis backward, creating the natural S curve in your spine and naturally getting you're scapula to fall. This is essentially the opposite of the posture we tend to have when we are seated at a desk.

    If you want to know a bit more about the above and ways to correct your posture, I highly recommend the Egoscue method and am including an article below. Its a functional medicine protocol I am currently using to correct a nerve injury and the exercises give me immediate relief. I have also successfully corrected a pelvic misalignment and the left knee pain I was having is gone.

    I am seriously considering hacking the protocol and adding a vibration platform, to see if I see long term results more quickly.
  • I'm not sure I agree with your imagery here Simone...


    Turning off the abs and rolling the pelvis back is not good advice. The abs should be engaged in order to lift the pelvis anteriorly and level it. If you turn off the abs by relaxing them and roll your pelvis back, you exaggerate the s in the spine and essentially are putting more extension through the lumbar vertebrae than they should have, creating that 'stripper butt' or 'protruded duck butt' look, which is not conducive to optimal vertebral loading and functioning. In fact you then create more shear forces through the lumbar region when it's loaded.


    The primary function of the rectus abdominus is to protect the internal organs and level the pelvis, in order to maintain posture.


    I do agree with the relaxed notion of the scapula down and back and rolling the shoulders back as the yogi's encourage, rather than actively doing it.


    by ensuring sufficient activation of the abs, this pulls the 'sternum' down, normalises thoracic extension and helps minimise that stuck out chest.

  • Hey manxtommyb,

    Sorry but I disagree both from my experience explained above as well as literature I have studied regarding primal posture and the way our ancestors held themselves upright in normal situations like standing and walking. If one is standing, why would they need to engage their abdomen? I could understand if one were lifting a heavy item. But tensing the abdominals does not only prevent natural pelvic alignment, but also prevents one from breathing deeply through the diaphragm.

    What you would call the "duck butt" is our natural way of standing, and if you visit any primal tribe in this country, or just watch a toddler move around, you will notice this is exactly the way they stand; belly relaxed, butt up (as if they had a tail) and elongated spine.

    The more we can do to correct our pelvic alignment and elongate our spine to counteract all the unnatural sitting in our modern lives, the less pain we will have and the more injury proof our bodies will become.

    In my opinion. Abdominal engagement for posture is as out of date as the low fat diet.

    Check out this Ted talk here entitled Primal Posture by Esther Gokhale

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