I suffer from hunched shoulders due to my poor habit of being lazy to stand up straight. I am unsure if my hunched shoulders caused my mild scoliosis when I was younger, or if my mild scoliosis caused my hunched shoulders. I am inclined to think the former as I started slouching in Primary school, and only got diagnosed with scoliosis in Secondary school.
Nevertheless, as I grew older and entered the working world, I found my own hunched shoulders unsightly, and motivation came from within to correct this. I turned to doing some simple Yoga poses to correct my posture.
Before I begin sharing the poses, let me talk about the muscles involved in hunched shoulders. Hunched shoulders usually occur when a person does not have strong enough muscles in their upper back and shoulders to resist gravity. When we round our shoulder, our front chest muscles such as Pectoralis major and minor become shorter, while our back muscles such as our Trapezius, Rhomboideus and rotator cuff muscles (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres minor and Scapularis) become lengthened and weak.
Next, our bones (skeletal system) are also involved in hunched shoulders. Hunched shoulders usually occur when an exaggerated hyperflexion of our thoracic vertebrae occurs. This curvature of the spine is called Kypnosis, and a person with Kypnosis is said to have a Kyphotic spine. Bad posture can cause Kypnosis. However, depending on the severity of the curvature, this can be corrected by strengthening the correct muscles.
Strengthening the muscles and stretching the muscles are slightly different. Basically, we need to stretch our muscles to increase our range of movements (i.e. increase our flexibility), before we proceed to strengthen our muscles (via holding weights such as our body weight). This will make our muscle-building exercise more effective, as well as help our muscles to grow faster.
Lastly, allow me to share the following poses which I find helpful to both stretch and strengthen my muscles at the same time, to improve my hunched back, as well as overall posture. They are:
- Low Lunge (Push my palms against the floor to hold my body weight, and look forward.)
- Side Plank
- Wheel Pose (Try to straighten your legs, doing push-ups in the position if possible)
- Hold in plank or Chaturanga Dandasana