Video 3 Correctives
In this article, we are going over how to correct your depressed or low shoulders using lifestyle modifications.
1st Corrective: Environment Fixes
You need to use arm rests, supports, pillows, or whatever you can under your elbows which raise up your shoulders to a neutral posture.
This is me sitting down (below), and as you can see my left shoulder height is clearly depressed. And I am trying to depress it, so I am cheating a little bit.
If we take a measurement, we come up with exactly 30 degrees.
Now, look at the supports under my left arms. As you can see, this measurement is different and is now 21.5 degrees which puts me in a neutral shoulder position.
This means that if you have a chair, it should have arm rests which actually elevate your shoulders to a neutral posture. However, if you are sitting on a couch, or in a car, you’re going to have to improvise a little.
This is me in the car without arm rests (below). And, just because I’m holding the steering wheel high with my left shoulder doesn’t mean that my shoulder is high or neutral.
So, one thing you can do is put your elbow under your knee to help raise up your shoulder.
These types of corrections are critical to make if you have symptoms that we talked about in video 1 from this series.
So, what happens if you don’t have anything to support yourself with?
This brings us into the 2nd set of Correctives: Correcting Your Posture (or active support)
When I’m just standing, you can see that my shoulders are depressed, (and I’m trying to depress them in this picture, so yes I am cheating a little bit, but I have clients that have depressed shoulders exactly like this). So, I have a 27.9 degree angle while standing up.
Now, what I want you to do is to shrug up your shoulders just a bit to get them neutral.
And, if we measure this, it comes out to be in neutral at 24.1 degrees.
And, you probably don’t shrug as much as you’d think. Just shrug just a little bit, and it should go a long way towards making a positive difference.
So, getting back to me standing with neutral shoulders, you can put your hands on your waist, in your pockets, but the key is to shrug up just a little bit, and this will allow you to get into the neutral shoulder posture.
Alright, we come to our last set of correctives in this video, and that is strategies for carrying stuff.
If you can avoid carrying very heavy stuff, please do it. But, if it’s a part of your job, I don’t expect you to quit your job. But, if you can make your job a little easier like using a cart, please do it.
If it means rolling a suitcase around or whatever you can, go for it. I realize most people won’t do this, but, for those of you in enough pain, you’ll likely try anything, so you should try this.
I want you to consider which shoulder your carry stuff with. Now, if you have a lower right shoulder, I don’t want you to carry stuff on that shoulder. But, let’s say you have to wear a backpack, or carry something using both shoulders, the question becomes:
Should you carry stuff with your hand, or drape it around your shoulder?
In my experience, if you have depressed or low shoulders, I recommend draping around your shoulder.
I’m not sure why, but I think most people will find it easier to get into a neutral shoulder position when you drape a strap around the shoulder. I think the forces around the shoulder tend to get more dissipated, so it doesn’t as easily depress the shoulder compared to holding on with your hand.
The bottom line is keep your shoulders neutral whether you are carrying something, or not.
There are a ton of ways to help balance out your depressed shoulders. If you have pain from depressed shoulders, you should make sure to use all of these strategies. You should also avoid carrying anything that weighs your shoulder down on that painful shoulder.
In the last corrective series, we’ll go through exercise to help you out. But, if you don’t have these lifestyle modifications in place, the exercise modifications aren’t likely to fully work.
If you’ve been lifting for a over year, you probably have depression, but not mental depression, I’m talking about shoulder depression.
And you wouldn’t be able to tell because all the best fitness people you see have it, so it tends to go unnoticed.
In this 3-part series, we’re going to go over how to assess for depressed shoulders, how you got it, and how to correct it. In today's article, we are just going to go over how to assess for depressed shoulders.
Why should you care if you have low shoulders? It can lead to:
If I get a new client who obviously has low shoulders and has shoulder pain, I'll often elevate the shoulders overhead, and ask them to lift their arms. If there is no pain or less pain, I know that low shoulders is a factor in their pain.
If I do the same thing with new clients that have neck pain and the neck pain decreases or is eliminated, I know that low shoulders is a factor in their neck pain. Often, the muscles which affect the shoulder directly attach to the neck, so there is often a cause and effect relationship between the shoulder and the neck.
Tingling in the Hands
Certain nerves can become compressed from having low shoulders which can contribute to tingling in the hands. Often, individuals who sleep with their arms overhead and have low shoulders are at the highest risk for developing tingling in their hands because of low shoulders.
Trouble Sleeping on Side
If you have trouble sleeping on one side, it may be because that side has to low of shoulders.
Clucking in Shoulder
If you raise your arm overhead, and you hear popping or clunking, low shoulders may be playing a role in this.
Okay Von, you convinced me low shoulders can suck, but how do I really know if I have low shoulders? The biggest tell-tale sign is the clavicle angle.
If this clavicle or bone here is straight, you have depressed shoulders. But, what if this part is a little elevated?
In that case, I recommend taking a measurement of the slope of your upper traps. To do this, we’re going to use an extension on a Chrome Browser called Protractor. So, basically, as long as you can email yourself your picture, have it in Google Photos, or have it online somewhere, and can use a Chrome browser to look it up, you can easily measure your upper trap angle.
Let’s first get Protractor on Chrome as an extension. We go to the upper right corner and click on the three vertical dots.
Now, it shows up as a button, in the top right corner that whenever you click on displays your protractor and allows you to measure angles. I believe there is a similar app in Android and I’m sure in the Apple store.
So, here are the angle measures that I’ve found which tell you if you have depressed shoulders, or at risk of developing depressed shoulders, or if you have normal shoulders.
Here I am checking of my clients, and as you can see he pretty much has a flat right clavicular angle (follow the red arrow below), which guarantees him depressed shoulders on the right side. However, his left clavicular angle is a little higher, so in that case, I like to measure the upper trap angle for his left side (and for completeness, we'll measure his right side too.)
Then we’re going to put the other line across the upper trap. We are measuring the left upper trap, and we get 33.9 degrees. For tdhe right side, we get 33.5 degrees.
I always recommend measuring the other side too because they’re almost going to be a little different, and sometimes a lot different.
Both shoulders certainly qualify as being depressed.
Now, let’s check myself.
I’m going to measure my left angle, and we get 27.5 degrees (sorry the cursor is blocking the actual number).
For my right angle, we get 30 degrees.
If you’re are either “Approaching Depressed Shoulders” or have depressed shoulders from these measurements, in the next article, we’re going go over how you got it, so you can help prevent it.
Finding out if you have low shoulders is simple. Measure it, try to correct it, then measure it later on. If you find it's getting better and you have less symptoms, keep it up!