Rounded shoulder is a posture abnormality that occurs when your shoulder muscles gradually curve forward in a hunched-over position. Bench pressing, in addition to computer work and prolonged sitting, can contribute to your rounded shoulder condition. For best results, stretch your shoulders and muscles thoroughly after performing weightlifting exercises to prevent your shoulders from rounding.
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Rounded shoulder occurs when your anterior shoulder muscles become too tight, causing your posterior muscles to weaken over time. This causes a permanent slouch that can give the impression of leaning or hunching forward whenever you’re sitting or standing in a relaxed position. One basic method to determine if you have rounded shoulders is to stand in front of a mirror with your arms relaxed by your side. If your palms face behind you, it may indicate tightness in your anterior shoulder muscles, leading to rounded shoulder.
Bench Pressing and Rounded Shoulders
The pectoralis major chest muscle is one of the primary muscle groups exercised during the bench press. Since tight chest muscles is a common cause of rounded shoulder, bench pressing and other heavy chest exercises may cause or worsen rounded shoulder, notes the Hruska Clinic website. Additionally, bench pressing also tones the latissimus dorsi and subscapularis muscles located in the back and shoulder, respectively. One way to prevent tightness in these three muscles is to perform shoulder and chest stretches after a bench pressing session. Bench pressing is not recommended as a technique for fixing rounded shoulders.
When your shoulders hunch forward, other joints and bones are encouraged to move with it. For example: prolonged tightness of the anterior shoulder muscles can cause protracted shoulder girdle, a condition that pushes your shoulder blades forward. Additionally, some rounded shoulder cases are caused by a severe spinal condition called kyphosis, which manifests in a bowing or rounding of the back. Since kyphosis is frequently caused by bone-deteriorating conditions such as degenerative diseases, osteoporosis and spondylolisthesis, weight-bearing exercises such as bench pressing may pose risks to your body. Always talk to a doctor before engaging in any strength training exercise if you suffer from kyphosis.
What to Do
Another way to help your rounded shoulder condition is to strengthen the posterior muscles of your shoulder and back. This is generally recommended in weightlifting to help you maintain muscle balance as you develop your chest and anterior muscles with bench pressing. Try to replace some of your bench pressing sessions with exercises that strengthen posterior muscle groups, including the external rotators, rhomboids and trapezius muscles. Include rows using barbells, dumbbells or cables, pullups and pulldowns and shrugs to work your back muscles. Also perform myofascial release exercises using a foam roller for tight chest muscles.