4 posture-bettering shoulder exercises that are no match for a desk job


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Moms love to remind us to “put our shoulders back” in order to have good posture. Well, hate to break it to ya, mom, but according to a chiropractor, rounded, hunched shoulders often don’t just need to be pulled back, they actually need to be strengthened. Because of this, doing dynamic shoulder exercises can completely alter (and better!) your posture.

“Dynamic shoulder exercises train proper movement patterns of the shoulder blade, and will help draw the shoulder blades down and wide,” says Emily Kiberd, DC, chiropractor and co-founder of Urban Wellness Clinic in New York City. These exercises, she says, help to stabilize the shoulder, which is key to maintaining proper posture. “General shoulder stability is essential for moving in the world. If a shoulder loses its range of motion or becomes stuck, then how we move through the world or carry things becomes limited.”

Having strong, stable shoulder muscles is also tied to core strength, surprisingly enough. “Some of the shoulder stabilizing muscles like the serratus anterior crossover are intertwined with our core muscles, so a stable shoulder goes hand in hand with a strong core,” says Dr. Kiberd. The same goes for your grip strength. “There’s a direct correlation of grip strength to how well you stabilize your shoulders and vice versa, which helps with good posture,” she says.

“If a shoulder loses its range of motion or becomes stuck, then how we move through the world or carry things becomes limited.” —Dr. Emily Kiberd

Not so stable in your shoulder muscles? Besides potentially having poor posture, Dr. Kiberd says you can experience muscle tightness or your shoulder blades could not be moving properly. “On one end of the spectrum, if the shoulder is not stable from laxity in the ligaments and soft tissues, it will dislocate anteriorly and can be very painful,” she says, noting that if you dislocate your shoulder once, there’s a high chance it can happen again. “Or the shoulder blade will wing. This can pull on the muscles of the neck, cause nerve pain, or cause muscle tightness leading to headaches.” To combat all of this and boost your shoulder stability, keep scrolling for Dr. Kiberd’s recommended dynamic shoulder exercises to try for yourself.

Dynamic shoulder exercises


1. Creep: Lying face-down on the floor, have one knee bent at almost 90 degrees, and the opposite arm bent at 90 degrees. Breathe and lift your head off of the floor, keeping shoulder blades up and wide open. Switch sides.

2. Beast to bear: In a quadruped position, move from a bear plank into a more elevated “beast,” with your hips up and back, shoulders wrapped back and down around the rib cage.

3. Half-kneeling kettlebell press: From a kneeling position, use a kettlebell to do an overhead press, keeping your shoulder off of your ear. Do both sides.

4. Paloff press: Stand tall with your abs and glutes engaged, and press a resistance band straight in front of your chest with your hands together.

Also helpful are these resistance band shoulder exercises, and tips on how to do “shoulder flossing,” a yogi-approved neck plus shoulder stretch. 

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