Beautiful Shoulders, to pull or not to pull back?

Just last week, a mother and her 12 year old daughter came to the studio. As usual, mum complained “She has hunched back.” Immediately, I noticed the little girl actively pulled her shoulders back. And her mum looked quite contented with her adjusted shoulders shape.
How do people counter the effect of the shoulders that slump forward?
Most people who recognise they have poor posture know that their shoulders hunch forward. Unfortunately, the ways they use to fix the problem are either ineffective or harmful. A common approach for correcting hunched shoulders is to pull shoulders back.
If you attend any Yoga classes, we often hear “Roll your Shoulders back”. People could not hold this position pass 1 minute.

The action of pulling the shoulders back involve contracting the rhomboid muscles which is not designed to hold the position for a long time. Fortunately, otherwise they will suffer inflammation from over contraction of rhomboid muscles.


It is not really helpful. Our daily activities are often carried out with shoulder positioned too far forward. The weight of the arm is no longer carried by the spine when the shoulders are too far forward. There is therefore no connection between the arm and the shoulder blades. Just like the head and neck, the arms are not able to connect to the shoulder blades when the area in between the shoulder blades is rigid and bend.
If your shoulders are slumped forward and your chest sink in follow by head protruding forward, such posture hazard is caused by the way you carry your upper back which is bent. It looks like the immediate solution will be to pull them back with the muscles of the upper back. The fundamental cause is in the thoracic upper back and not in the position of the shoulders. You are worsen the condition of shoulders tension.

If you want to prevent slouching of the shoulders, you first need to change the shape of the upper back. When the upper back is aligned, they will provide a base for aligned shoulders that could relax while the arm is connected to the spine. There is no use to pull the shoulders back.
While lying on the rubble strip, it can stabilizing the shoulder joint, the back and shoulders can remain passive and relaxed and not be affected by the activity of the arms.
It is important to also understand that over-exaggerated movement of the shoulders back does not help when the spine is too rigid to receive the movement of the shoulders. It will only tensed up the rhomboid more and causing hypermobility and instability of shoulder joint.
In mobilising the arm connection, Critical Alignment Yoga (CAT) offer a perfect start to establish the connection of the arm to the shoulder blades while the shoulders stay relax.

Double Strip Shoulder Stretch exercise.

Seated Shoulder Stretch – Strengthening the connection of the arm to the shoulder blades while maintaining body in sitting neutral position.

Shoulder Stretch using headstander – Developing activity in the arm while maintaining the connection of the arm to the shoulder blades and chest open.

Establishing mobility of the shoulders in its connection to the shoulder blades is the best way to remedy hunched shoulders. Hunching the shoulders often disturb the nerves and blood vessel that supply blood to the arm and therefore affecting blood supply to and from the arms and nerve function in the arm.

Therefore, many who experience cold hands, dry skin, numbness in the fingers and arm pain are likely to benefit from shoulder remedy offered by CAT.

Beautiful Shoulders is what I often observe in CAT practitioners, hence the title of this article.