Skip to content

Stretches and Exercises for Rounded Shoulders

Man with hands on shoulders, know exercises for rounded shoulders


Rounded shoulders are often rooted in bad posture and a sedentary lifestyle - two habits that are easy to unknowingly adopt in today’s modern world. Your shoulders rolling forward can cause reduced flexibility, pain, and discomfort. Not fun.

If you are in search of exercises for rounded shoulders, you’ve come to the right place. This page will review effective exercises to target the rounding of your shoulders along with other mindful adjustments you can utilize to regain proper alignment. 

The Best Exercises for Rounded Shoulders

To target rounded shoulders, the goal is to strengthen the neck and back muscles particularly the middle/lower trapezius muscles and rhomboid muscles. Here are a couple you can try that don’t require any equipment. 

Shoulder Blade Squeezes: 

  1. Stand straight and tall
  2. Squeeze shoulder blades together holding for a few seconds, then release.
  3. Repeat several times.
  4. Variation can be done with a resistance band held out in front of you - remember to keep focus on your shoulder blades and strengthening/activating this back area!

Wall Angels:

  1. Stand with your back against a wall with palms up 
  2. Keep your lower back against the wall
  3. Lower your arms down while keeping your back against the wall.
  4. This helps improve shoulder mobility as well (See video below on how to do this.)

Exercises for Rounded Shoulders: Dumbbell Edition

These dumbbell exercises can help target your upper back muscles. The idea here is to target the imbalance between your front and back muscles - activating the back muscles, especially the rhomboids, traps, and lats. 

Dumbbell Row

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with a dumbbell in each hand.
  2. Keep knees slightly bent and hinge forward at the hips
  3. Engage your core muscles and pull weights towards your hips by bending at the elbows.
  4. Keep your upper arms close to your body as you lift and focus on squeezing the shoulder blades together at the peak of your movement.
  5. Lower dumbbells with control back to the starting position.
  6. Aim for 8-12 reps.

Dumbbell Shrugs

  1. Stand tall with a dumbbell in each hand and arms fully extended by your sides, palms facing your body.
  2. Keeping your arms straight, elevate your shoulders towards your ears as high as possible.
  3. Hold the top position for a moment, feeling the contraction in your upper traps
  4. Lower back to starting position with control
  5. Aim for 10-15 reps


Exercises for Rounded Shoulders: The Postural Dilemma 101

Now that we’ve reviewed the exercises for rounded shoulders, let’s review how we got here. After all, knowing the causes can help us to make sure we don’t repeat history, right?

In an article published by the Journal of Physical Therapy Science it is stated, “Muscular and skeletal structures can change into an incorrect shape due to a reduction in physical activity and inappropriate posture habits in daily living… Rounded shoulder posture (RSP) refers to a posture characterized by acromion protraction in from of the line of gravity, shoulder protraction, and downward rotation as well as anterior tilt.” [1] 

Causes for rounded shoulder posture:

  • Long-term smartphone use
  • Prolong sitting (leading to muscular tightness or imbalance)
  • Improver weightlifting technique
  • Consistent heavy carrying on one side

Rounded shoulders symptoms:

  • Neck pain 
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder impingement
  • Rotator cuff issues [2]

Exercises for Rounded Shoulders: Winning With Stretches

Focused stretches on the chest muscles and shoulder retraction muscles are key to seeing improvement. [1] As it was mentioned in the previous section, it’s also important to balance the overactive/tight muscles by stretching them. 

Muscles that need to be stretched and released:

  • Pectoralis major/minor
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Upper Traps (anterior)
  • Subclavius
  • Anterior deltoid [2]

Doorway Stretch:

  • Stand in front of a doorway with arms bent at 90 degrees
  • Forearms against the door frame
  • Lean forward until you feel the stretch in your chest and shoulders

Eagle Arms:

  • Cross one arm over the other in front of your body
  • Bend your elbows and bring your palms together, if possible
  • Lift your elbows to shoulder height
  • Feel the stretch in the upper back and shoulders
  • See below for a quick video on how to do this stretch 

Here is a quick easy stretch you can also try anywhere

Exercises for Rounded Shoulders FAQs

Can rounded shoulders be corrected?

Yes, rounded shoulders can most definitely be corrected. Just like most postural problems caused over time, it will also take time to correct. According to several studies, individuals have experienced improvement with their rounded shoulders after implementing an exercise routine of at least 2 weeks. 

What exercise is good for round shoulders?

As mentioned in the above exercise section, round shoulders require stretching of your tight front muscles (chest area) and activation of your back muscles (traps and rhomboid muscles). As long as your exercises or stretches do a combination of these you will be able to alleviate the imbalance in your front and back muscles and reduce the muscular tug-o-war that’s going on!

If I had to pick one exercise and one stretch, it would be the shoulder blade squeezes and wall angels. 

What are the wall exercises for rounded shoulders?

Some wall exercises for rounded shoulders include wall angels and wall push-ups. There is a quick video on how to do wall angels in the above section and wall push-ups are just a variation of regular push-ups but standing with hands on the wall. Wall push-ups will engage the chest, shoulders, and triceps while facilitating shoulder alignment.

What causes rounding of the shoulders?

Rounding of shoulders can be caused by multiple things. Here is a quick list of some causes:

  • Muscle imbalances (weak back muscles and tight chest muscles)
  • Bad posture (usually from prolonged sitting and slouched/hunched posture)
  • Lifestyle factors (lack of exercises leading to weakened muscles, lowering your head while using tech)
man using phone with bad posture, know exercises for rounded shoulders

Exercises for Rounded Shoulders: Conclusion

So just as a quick recap, rounded shoulders are definitely fixable! Depending on your consistency with lifestyle changes and an exercise/stretching regimen, you’re well on your way to seeing some improvement! 

Remember that everyone’s experience with rounded shoulders is unique and will require patience when it comes to finding what works for you. Hopefully, this page has provided some useful information that you can start using today. 


Now that you've read about stretches and exercises for rounded shoulders, check out our page on trapezius stretches or physiotherapy vs. physical therapy.



[1] Lee, D.Y., Nam, C. W., Sung, Y.B., Kim, K., Lee, H.Y. Changes in rounded shoulder posture and forward head posture according to exercises methods. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 2017.  

[2] Wong, M. How to fix rounded shoulders.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive emails every few days with back pain relief tips, testimonials, and resources