Having one shoulder much higher than the other can be unsightly, and the sign of a serious problem with your musculature or skeletal alignment. Even a shoulder slightly higher than the other can cause distress or lead to further problems as the causes worsen the symptom.
For mild cases, exercising and practicing correct posture can help solve the "high shoulder" problem. Standing erect with your back straight, your weight balanced and your shoulders level will help realign your skeleton, says Tai Chi teacher Dr. Keith Jeffries. Martial arts, yoga and other eastern fitness practices are a good source of realignment training. Uneven shoulders might be caused by a posture problem in your back or hips.
If one shoulder is higher than the other, then performing exercises will cause one shoulder to work harder than the other, resulting in bursitis, tendonitis, headaches and neck pain. Perform stretching exercises to fully correct the problem. Stand in a doorway. Bend your right elbow 90 degrees. Lift your right arm up so that your upper arm is parallel with the floor. Place your right forearm on the right side of the doorway. Move your chest and shoulders forward and to the left until you feel a stretch in your right shoulder. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Resistance Band Exercises
Work your mid-back to offset your shoulder imbalance. Stand up with your feet together. Hold one end of a resistance band in each hand. Lift your arms up so that they are parallel with the floor. Extend your arms out to the sides to form a T with your body, keeping your arms parallel with the floor. Bring your arms together in front of your body. Repeat 10 times.
Masseuse Kerry Collette advises that uneven posture in your shoulders can indicate a muscular problem in your shoulders, or be a "referred" symptom from problems elsewhere in your body. Regular massage therapy can identify the causes of your uneven shoulders and address them accordingly. Collette says simple relaxation massage isn't sufficient for this kind of treatment. You need regular therapeutic massage by a licensed professional. Therapeutic massage frequently includes exercises designed to increase flexibility and health in affected muscles.
Collette and Jeffries advise that uneven shoulders can be a sign of serious medical problems, especially if accompanied by sharp or radiating pain -- or pain that seems to be from something other than muscle soreness. In such cases, medical intervention is the best solution. Options for medical intervention include physical therapy exercises, chiropracty, prosthetics and surgery.