We've all seen this guy at the gym... Invisible lat syndrome, shoulders pulled forward, hunch-back at the rear base of the neck, ears sit forward of the delts, the chest always seems contracted and the back is in a perpetual lat spread. They tend to have a good sized gut going too for some reason. Of course that is a generalization, and maybe some hyperbole, but it stands as an example of a physique which has grown out of balance.
Its becoming all too common, particularly among the "douche-bag" Jersey Shore type crowd that hits the gym daily to blast chest and arms - and sadly nothing else. But it can happen to anyone no matter what their knowledge or skill level. The "it" I refer to is an imbalance between the rhomboids and the pectorals.
Much of the work we do in the weight room requires internal rotations of the shoulder joint. Shoulder press, bench press, chest flyes just to name a few. So if you notice some of those symptoms and you're starting to look like a gorilla, try incorporating some of these exercises to strengthen the rhomboids and some of the other supporting muscles:
Sit up straight with elbows at sides and bent to 90 degrees (right angle).
Push shoulders together and down, with palms facing the floor.
Make a waxing motion in the air while maintaining the above position. **Keep elbows "glued" to sides while completing motion.**
Do this for 20 seconds. Repeat 4 times.
WALL ANGELS (probably the better of these exercises. Also hits the lower traps like nothing else will)
Stand against wall with feet shoulder width apart.
Gently press low back against wall.
Place back of elbows, forearms, and wrists against wall.
Bring arms up and down slowly in a small arc of motion while keeping elbows in contact with wall.
Do this 10 times.
SIDELYING SHOULDER EXERCISES
Lie on either side with your arm resting against your side.
Bring hand up to ceiling and back down slowly.
As arm comes up, your shoulder blade should move back towards other shoulder blade.
Do 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions.
PRONE LYING SCAPULAR EXERCISE
Lie on stomach on a pillow, with forehead resting on a rolled towel to keep neck in neutral.
Bring arms out to sides with elbows bent to 90 degrees.
Lift arms up while squeezing shoulder blades together.
Hold each 3-5 seconds, and do 3 sets of 5-10 repetitions.
Sit up straight on a chair.
Keep elbows very close to sides and pull back on a resistive band as shoulder blades come back and down.
Return to start position slowly.
Do 3 sets of 5 repetitions.
Performing these movements routinely may help prevent quite a few different types of injuries such as tearing/straining of the lower traps and impingement of the shoulder joint or even tearing of the rotator cuff. A few of these exercises, performed a few times per week as part of your warm up will surely do you some good, and shouldn't take much time at all.
Several months ago, I had the unfortunate experience of damaging the lower portion of my left trap while performing a military press. My therapy after the initial soreness subsided was to perform wall angels daily. I am now injury free, however; I continue to perform this exercise daily and I can say my posture has since improved dramatically. And with my better posture, I've been getting many comments from friends that I appear "wider up top." Who wouldn't want that?
I hope you find this information useful! Feel free to add any experiences you have with posture correction below!