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Chest and Shoulder Opening

Our instructor Seth Mohan writes about the impacts of hunching over a laptop all day and how to change those habits into new, healthy patterns. Seth is teaching the upcoming Chest and Shoulder Opening workshop at our Bay & Dundas location. Learn more and sign up here.

One of the most common pain areas today are the shoulders and upper back. As an increasing amount of work is done on computers and laptops, the shoulders are in a rounded position and the upper back is hunched forward for long periods of time. Working in this manner for eight hours a day, five days a week takes a toll on the body. Over time, the muscles and joints in this area can become ‘fixed’ in this improper alignment, leading to a host of medical issues.

There are many other lifestyle habits that lead to rounded shoulders: spending a lot of time on our smart devices, taller people hunching down so as not to stand out too much, as well as strengthening the pecs too much causing them to be tighter and pulling the shoulders forward.

The focus of the chest and shoulder opening workshop is going to be on building awareness of your body throughout the day and mitigating the negative impact of your lifestyle habits. You will walk away feeling empowered to maintain proper alignment and maintaining proper posture throughout the day.

Tight muscles in the chest and shoulders result in the shoulder joint losing its natural range of motion. Much like a pestle and mortar, the shoulder is a ball and socket joint, and the humerus enjoys a 360 degree range of motion when the surrounding muscles are flexible. When the pectoral muscles become tight, especially the pec minor, the shoulder is pulled down and forward resulting in dorsal kyphosis (hunching of the upper back).

When the upper back is hunched forward the weight of the head is unevenly distributed causing more strain on the upper spine and neck, which causes an acceleration in spine degeneration and can become irreversible if left uncorrected.

Rounded shoulders can lead to a host of medical issues in the long run, like collapsing of the pulmonary cavity (your chest area), which leads to your lungs not having the space they need to fully expand, thereby limiting your oxygen intake and lung capacity. Lack of oxygen leads to a decrease in focus, productivity, and also slows down your metabolism.

Rounded shoulders also signal poor posture, which is often perceived as lack of confidence. Studies have shown that having poor posture releases cortisol in your blood stream, which is a stress causing hormone, so your mood and ability to handle day to day challenges is negatively affected.

For all of these reason it is so important to have proper alignment in the shoulders. Working on laptops and computers cannot be avoided for most of the workforce today; however, an increase in body awareness can be integrated into your work life. This means experimenting with standing desks, taking frequent breaks to get up and stretch, and realigning the shoulders to be more open.

There are specific exercises that will lead to properly aligned shoulders and opening of the chest muscles. These exercises will be the focus of the workshop. The workshop will emphasize building awareness of your body and also arm you with exercises to increase your range of motion and flexibility, and maintain good posture going forward.

The main muscle groups that we are going to work on are the pectorals (minor and major, the chest muscles that pull your shoulders forward), the rhomboids (the muscles in the back that pull the shoulders blades together) and the deltoids (the shoulder muscles that help you move the upper arm).

A great way to start is by noticing your shoulders when you’re sitting, and check in with your body throughout the day. Awareness is the first step to change.