Rounded shoulders is the term given to someone who exhibits poor posture and whose body seems out of alignment or “slumping forward.” Sometimes referred to as “Donald Duck” posture or even “mom posture”, these exaggerated terms describe a physical observation that can be corrected.

With the right exercises and the necessary lifestyle changes, you can reverse your rounded shoulders and all of the adverse side effects that come with them.

As many of our readers are frequent gym-goers, we feel the need to share that unfortunately, regular gym activity has been linked to an increased risk in rounded shoulders and shoulder-related posture problems.

The exercises given later in this article could prove useful when ensuring you care for your back and shoulders pre and post-workout sessions.

The Main Causes of Rounded Shoulders

When a robust upright posture is ignored, the body can get into the habit of slouching forward while sitting, walking, or standing.

This can eventually lead to a more dangerous combination of back pain, discomfort, and misalignment.

For those who spend much of their day at a desk, slouched over a computer, it is not uncommon for rounded shoulders to eventually creep up and start creating discomfort.

The term “mom posture” often refers to the tendency for pregnant females to ignore proper posture as the baby’s weight grows, sometimes resulting in rounded shoulders at the end of term and after the child is born. 

Other activities that have been shown to contribute to rounded shoulders normally involve looking down for long periods of time, which disrupts the natural muscle movements of the neck, head, and upper back.

Activities such as continually looking at your phone, constantly moving or carrying heavy objects, or driving a vehicle for long stretches have all been shown to be risk factors. 

If rounded shoulders are allowed to continue for extended lengths of time, the body becomes accustomed to its new shape, resulting in possible long term muscle soreness or damage.

Enough of the doom and gloom, let’s look at how you can start exercising today to ensure your rounded shoulders stop causing you problems.

Exercises to Combat Rounded Shoulders

The best thing about many of these exercises is that they are easy to incorporate into an everyday routine, and are effective at correcting or preventing rounding shoulders.

While more advanced exercises can be researched to build shoulder strength, this article focuses on simple daily exercises that can be done at home, at work, or even on the road.


Our favorite at-home ab workout makes this list as well.

Proper form on a plank dictates a flat back posture that we want to emulate throughout the day.

They work the core and back muscles and help to stretch and strengthen the shoulders and upper back.

Starting your day with a series of plank exercises will give you a jumpstart of energy, as well as start to train your body in better posture habits.

Wall Stretch

It’s as easy as it sounds. Stand with your back against a wall, your feet slightly away from the wall holding a strong stance.

Try and position yourself so that your entire back touches the wall, from your upper back down to your tailbone.

Press your arms flat against the wall for an additional planar stretch.

Hold this pose for 30-60 seconds.

Handclasp Stretch

If you do this stretch for 30 seconds every day, it will work wonders.

Standing up straight, interlace your fingers together behind your back, and press them both down towards the floor.

Keeping your neck straight, feel your chest open wide into a stretch.

Repeat this exercise as much as needed, holding for 30 seconds each time.

Thoracic Stretching using Foam Roller

For those who have access to a foam roller (we recommend the versatile TriggerPoint series), experimenting with some thoracic stretches could help tremendously with rounded shoulders.

Place the foam roller on a flat surface, and position yourself on it so that you’re facing towards the ceiling, and the roller is comfortably placed below your upper back.

The key to this exercise is not to allow your lower back to compensate by bending downward.

Keep your lower back engaged and strong.

Place your hands behind your head, and with every exhalation, try and let your upper back extend a but further up the roller.

Band Stretches

Band stretches are an easy and effective way to use body weight to properly stretch some of your more underactive muscles, preventing injury while building strength.

Using an old exercise band or your home TRX  suspension system, stand firmly upright with the band in front of you.

With one hand on each end, keep a straight posture and slowly and methodically begin to pull the band apart until your arms are completely straight at a 90° angle to the body.

Release and bring the hands back together with control.

An alternative band exercise is the Y-raise. Instead of extending the arms completely straight, you create a soft “V” in front of your body.

Next, raise your arms above your head, forming a “Y” shape with your vertically extended arms.

Door Frame Chest Stretch

 This one is just fun. Find a sturdy door frame, and make sure the door opens wide.

Place one hand palm down on each side of the door frame and straighten your back.

Position your legs in a gentle lung-like position with one leg forward. Allow your chest to come through the doorway as you fall into a forward lunge.

Make sure to keep your head and neck straight and secure on this exercise, and hold the lunge for 15-30 seconds to start.

You will feel the pull in the shoulders and the upper back and maybe a secret workout for the quads.


Rounded shoulders are common, but when left unabated, they can cause painful and disruptive symptoms that can negatively affect your day to day life.

By taking the proper precautions and drawing attention to bad posture, you can save time and energy in later having to correct it.

By implementing a few of these exercises into your weekly routine, you can correct and prevent rounded shoulders safely and effectively.

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