So Your Shoulders Are Depressed (So Sad)

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Despite the cheekiness nature of the title, you can relax: I’m not suggesting that your shoulders are “depressed” in the literal sense of the word.

I mean, it’s not as if they just got word they contracted ebola or that their heart just got ripped out by some uppity bitch who left them for some toolbag named Cliff who goes to Harvard and rows Crew.  Or worse, they’re a Celtics fan (<—- they’re really bad this year).

Nope, we can hold off on the Zoloft, Haagen Dazs and Bridget Jone’s Diary marathon for now.  That’s NOT the depression I’m referring to.

When it comes to shoulders and the numerous dysfunctions and pathologies that can manifest in that region, generally speaking we tend to give much more credence to anterior/posterior imbalances like a gummed up pec (major or minor) or weak scapular retractors.

Rarely, if ever, do we point the spotlight on superior/inferior imbalances.

Translated into English, yes the rotator cuff is important, but we also have to be cognizant of the interplay between upward and downward rotation. More and more (especially with our baseball guys, but even in the general population as well) we’re seeing guys walk in with overly depressed shoulders.

For the more visual learners in the crowd here’s a picture that will help:

It should be readily apparent that 1) that’s a sick t-shirt and 2) there’s a downward slope of the shoulders, yes?

Hint:  yes.

This can spell trouble for those whose livelihood revolve around the ability to get their arms over their head (baseball players) as the downward rotators of the scapulae (levator, rhomboids, and especially the lats) are kicking into overdrive and really messing with the congruency and synergy between the scapulae, humeral head, glenoid fossa, and acromion process.

And this doesn’t just pertain to overhead athletes either.

We’re seeing this quite a bit in the general population as well, particularly with meatheads (those who like to lift heavy stuff), as we’ve (i.e: fitness professionals) done a great job of shoving down people’s throats ”shoulder blades down and together” for years now, emphasizing what I like to call reverse posturing.

Likewise, much of what many meatheads do (deadlifts, shrugs, farmer carries, pull-ups, rows, fist pumps, etc) promote more of what renowned physical therapist, Shirley Sahrmann, has deemed downward rotation syndrome.

Putting our geek hats on for a brief minute, statically, it’s easy to spot this with someone’s posture.  For starters, you’ll see more of a downward slope of the shoulder girdle (see pic above).  Additionally, you can look at the medial (and inferior) border of the scapulae and observe its relationship with the spine and ascertain whether someone is more adducted (retracted) or abducted (protracted).

Many trainees, unless engaged in regular exercise or sporting activity, have a slightly protracted scapulae (kyphotic posture) due to the unfortunate nature of modern society where many are forced to stare at a computer screen for hours on end.

If someone’s rhomboids and lats are overactive, however  – which is fairly common with meatheads – they’re going to superimpose a stronger retraction and downward pull of the shoulder blade, which in turn will result in a more adducted position.  In short:  the shoulder blade(s) will “crowd” the spine.

All of this to say: things are effed up, and are going to wreck havoc on shoulder kinematics and affect one’s ability to upwardly rotate the scapulae.

So, hopefully you can see how this would be problematic for those who A) need to throw a baseball for a living or B) would like to do anything with their arms above their head.

With special attention to the latter, if someone is aggressively downwardly rotated, the congruency of the joint is such that the humeral head is going to superiorly migrate, which will then compromise the subacromial space (making it even narrower) leading to any number of shoulder ouchies.

Throwing more fuel into the fire, because the lats are stiff/short, shoulder flexion is going to be limited and compensation patterns will then manifest itself in other areas as well – particularly forward head posture and lumbar hyperextension.

Which, of course, makes doing the Dougie a little tricker.

Okay, with all of that out of the way what can be done to help alleviate the situation.  Luckily the answer isn’t as complicated as it may seem, and I don’t need to resort to bells, whistles, and smoke machines or take a page out of Professor Dumbledore’s Magic Book of Bedazzling Hexes and Awesome Shoulder Remedies (on sale now through Amazon!) to point you in the right direction.

But make no mistake about it:  you WILL have to pay some attention to detail.

Lets get the contraindicated stuff out of the way first.

Basically it would bode in your favor to OMIT anything which is going to promote MORE scapular depression – at least for the time being (not forever).

Things To Avoid

To that end, things to avoid would be the following:

– Deadlifts

– Pull-Up/Chin-Up Variations (even those these may “feel” good, they’re just going to result in feeding into the dysfunction)

– Suitcase Farmer Carries (again, these are just going to pull you down more).

– Anything where you’re holding DBs to your side (think:  walking lunges, reverse lunges, etc).

– And we may even need to toss in aggressive horizontal row variations if someone presents with an overtly adducted posture.

– Overhead pressing.  Listen, if you can’t get your arms above your head without compensating, you have no business doing push presses, or snatches, or whatever it is you’re thinking about doing.  Stop being stupid.

– Sticking your finger in an electrical socket.  That’s just common sense.

Things To Do Instead

– In lieu of the deadlifts, if you have access to them, utilizing speciality bars like a GCB bar or Safety Squat bar would be awesome.  Learn to make lemonade out of lemons: why not emphasize your squat for the time being?

And because I know I just ruined someone’s world out there by telling them not to deadlift, because you’re going to deadlift anyways, at the very least, limit yourself to ONE day per week.

– You can still hit up a lot of carry variations, just not the suitcase variety.  At Cressey Performance we HAMMER a lot of bottoms-up kettlebell carries because they offer a lot of benefits – especially for those in downward rotation.

Moreover, we can also toss in some GOBLET carries like so:


– You can still implement a wide variety of single leg work using DBs, but I’d defer again to utilizing GOBLET variations only.

In this way you’re not feeding into the dysfunction by holding the DBs to your side (and pulling you into downward rotation.

With regards to overhead pressing, I’m not a fan for most people.  I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating here:  you need to earn the right to overhead press.

That said I do love LANDMINE presses which tend to offer a more “user friendly” way of “introducing” overhead pressing into the mix.  Check my THIS article on T-Nation I wrote a few months ago, which offers more of a rationale as well as landmine variations to implement.

And the Boring Stuff (<— The Stuff You’re Going to Skip, But I’ll Talk About Anyways)

From a corrective exercise standpoint it’s important that we stress the upper traps to help nudge or encourage us into more upward rotation.

And by “upper traps,” I AM NOT referring to the most meatheaded of meathead exercises – the barbell shrug.

These wouldn’t be useful because there’s no “real” scapular upward rotation involved, and you’re doing nothing but encouraging more depression anyways.

Instead incorporating activation drills like forearm wall slides and back to wall shoulder flexion – both of which encourage upper trap activation, WITH upward rotation – would be ideal:

Forearm Wall Slides w/ OH Shrug

Back to Wall Shoulder Flexion w/ OH Shrug

NOTE:  something to consider would be how you actually go about cuing the shrug portion.  We like to tell people to begin the shrug pattern once your elbows reach shoulder height.  Meaning, it’s not as if you’re going elevate your arms up and THEN shrug.  Rather you want to combine the two.

Another important corrective modality to consider would be something to address the lats.  In this regard my go to exercise would be the bench t-spine mobilization

Bench T-Spine Mobilization

And while I could sit here and pepper you with a deluge of other “correctives,” I think by now you get the point and those three should be more than enough to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Those combined with the programming modifications suggested above should definitely help to that shoulder frown upside down. <—  HA – see what I just did there?

That’s some wordsmith magic right there.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Comments for This Entry

  • Barath

    If you put up a picture of you wearing that tribe called quest shirt one more time, Imma come over to Boston and kick your ass. For real.

    November 21, 2013 at 6:22 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Eugene

    Please tell me why I only see empty boxes? None of your pics or videos or whatever they are can't be seen??? I m on an iPad if that's any help.

    November 22, 2013 at 3:08 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Hmmm, you're not the first person with an iPad that has mentioned this, I don't know what to say.

      November 25, 2013 at 6:46 am | Reply to this comment

      • Kim

        Actually was glad to hear someone was having same issue... Videos and pics come up on my husbands android but not on my iPhone or iPad--- if anyone knows solution I would love it... I am such a visual learner and it doesn't work well when I can't read the blog posts with videos to support...still do my best to read religiously though!! Love the posts!

        November 27, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Reply to this comment

  • deb de rosset

    I recently got married (it was awesome)., I worked my rear off for a year getting in shape for it. I can honestly say that off the 400 or so pictures in which I appear (in short strapless wedding dress) I am unhappy with not a single one of them. Go me. After reading this though, I took a closer look at my back and I'm wondering if what I thought was a very nicely developed teres major is really the distal end of my scapula poking through with a vengeance.

    November 22, 2013 at 2:12 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Craig

    Great post Tony. You said that typical shrugs contribute to depression; do you believe that because of the rhomboid and lev scap activity, and because of the terminal eccentric phase? My scapulas actually have a bit of upward rotation at rest, but some depression, so my thinking was that typical shrugs would help me get a bit more resting elevation. Thanks!

    November 22, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Shane Mclean

    you sure yourself and Eric were not separated at birth? Nice post Tony. I'm starting to see this more and more.

    November 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Reply to this comment

  • luis puerta

    What would you suggest for someone with scholiosis? I'm having a lot of difficulty pin pointing exercises to help this and as much as I love dead lifts, i think they are making it worse. My left shoulder sags considerably lower than my right shouder and the size of my left arm is smaller as well. It's really difficult for me to squat without my hips moving a bit to the left. I pay great attention to detail when doing shoulder exercises (internal/external rotations with a low weight and such) but I cant seem to help the problem. I foam roll my back witha rumble roller and hang from the pull up bar to stretch my back. My therapist said there is pressure under my left shoulder blade around C7 and then down in my lower back it bends again, forming a very slight S. She said that when i touch my toes you can't see any issues so she thinks it s a muscular problem rather than something with the bone. The entire left side of my back feels indented whereas the right side feels raised. THe bad thing is she didn't give me a lot of exercises to consider. I figured I'd ask you because you do so much actual research into the muscles and ligaments involved in movements. Thanks for the help.

    November 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Stuff To Read 11/26/13 | Freeborn Training Systems

    […] 1. So Your Shoulders Are Depressed (So Sad) by Tony Gentilcore […]

    November 26, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Robert

    Tony, would scapular pushups be another one of those boring-but-good-for-you exercises for treating overly adducted and downwardly rotated scapulae? My intuition tells me they would be, but I don't want to assume and make an ass out of myself. And a quick note of gratitude that I hope doesn't strike you as too sappy: these posts on scapular depression have been quite helpful for me because it's been something that has probably been an issue for me for years since I was very much an adherent of the "shoulder blades down and back" cue, so thanks a bunch. It's also satisfying to learn the about the nuances and exceptions that are so necessary for effective individualized training, rather than employing the dogmatic one-size-fits-all approaches.

    December 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Mmmmm, maybe. The serratus definitely contributes to upward rotation, but I feel we've placed such a precedence on telling people "down and back" with regards to scapular function that most have lost the ability to even use their upper traps. And thanks for the kind words! I really appreciate it and glad to see that I'm coming across as somewhat coherent....;o)

      December 12, 2013 at 8:38 am | Reply to this comment

  • Sam27

    Hi Tony What do you think about face pulls in this case... does it feed the imbalance due to rhomboid dominance (downward rotation). feel that every back exercise feed the imbalance, so i thought the face pull was different due to the scapulae in some upward rotation. Any time i do face pulls i feel that it gets worse, as you have to depress you scapulae at the end range of the face pull. Look forward to hear from you.. Sam

    May 6, 2014 at 6:03 am | Reply to this comment

  • heybrah

    ummm.. hey man i was wondering if there is any streches or excercises that would couse scapular deppresion becouse i have a scapular elevation problim and i need to get my shoulders down pls help.. thnx in advance

    May 14, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      You'll need more scapular posterior tilt. Less upper trap work, too. Stretch the upper traps. Also, focus more on "down and together" when performing things like rows, etc. If you go to T-Nation and do s search for "De-Constructing Computer Guy," that will give you a ton of stuff to do.

      May 15, 2014 at 6:55 am | Reply to this comment

  • Niels

    Great article. I like the focus on "the boring stuff", it is always nice with an explanation. I have i question regarding exercises. It seems like your favorite ones are sort of light-weight, in the sense that no external loading is applied. By visual inspection I've come to the conclusion that I do not have depressed shoulders. Yet. I do however perform all the meathead exercises, and I don't see why I should wait until the damage is done to start fixing. But it seems to me, that if you load the lower traps with heavy deadlifts and chinups, etc. you should do some corrective work that is "loaded" as well? Or am I completely off the mark here? I've added in wall slides and back to wall shoulder flexions to my almost daily warmup/stretching routine (although my slight anterior pelvis tilt makes it difficult to jam the lower back into the wall as firmly as I probably should). But is there any loaded variation I could add to my normal shoulder day, such as overhead shrugs at the end of a set of DB overhead work, or maybe the front bar shrug as described on T-nation? Best Regards Niels

    July 28, 2014 at 8:29 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      By all means I still LOAD my clients. They're still lifting weights. But when it comes to correcting stuff, sometimes it comes down to motor control and making sure things are done correctly. To that end, that's why it "seems" I'm focusing on light(er) weight. I think if you're pain free and have no issues, you don't have much to worry about. Just make sure you toss in some of these "boring" exercises into a warm-up or as fillers and then make sure you hit all your movement patterns within the week to keep things "balanced" so-to-speak.

      July 28, 2014 at 9:35 am | Reply to this comment

  • JC

    Hey Tony, interesting article but there's one thing I don't understand. You talk about the lat as a downward rotator of the scapula and being especially tight in downward rotation syndrome, but as far as I know the lats originate on the lower spine and attach on the humerus, so I don't really see how they might have an impact on the downward rotation of the scapula. Could you expound on that?

    August 30, 2014 at 9:25 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      You're right JC, most anatomy books will tell you that the lat attaches on the humerus and lower spine of the spine. The latisimus dorsi is a LARGE muscle that spreads out over a lot of surface area. While those two areas above are technically the insertion and origin points, the lat has attachments points all over the posterior chain - thoraco lumbar fascia, ribcage, and in something like 40% of the population, the scapulae as well. The has a heavy influence on a lot of stuff. And not just at those two attachments points that anatomy books tell us.....;o)

      September 1, 2014 at 5:42 am | Reply to this comment

  • Mattias

    Wouldn't overhead shrugs be an awesome exercise if you want your upper trapezius to work in an elevated + upwardly rotated state? And instead of doing ye olde barbel row or any row where you retract your scapula in a depressed state, you could do face pulls where you retract them in an upwardly rotated state? Or am I thinking wrong here

    September 18, 2014 at 1:30 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Mattias

    I also have a question about anterior tilting of the scapula. Which muscles control the posterior and anterior tilting? When I google scapula articulations I can see which mucles elevate, depress and so on. But I don't find anything about anterior or posterior tilting. And I'm suffering from anterior tilting, so which muscles, or maybe movements do I want to strengthen?

    September 26, 2014 at 7:26 am | Reply to this comment

  • Zach

    Hi, thank you for such a great post. I am also overwhelmed by the knowledge shown in the comments. I'm neither a reader or well-read, so maybe my question will make me look extremely naive, but: I've been doing all kinds of wall slides and flexions (three to six times a week), and I've completely stopped doing exercises you've written I shouldn't do. I've although done overhead pressing (dumbbell shoulder press(?)), but I'm pretty sure my body is compensating in any way by doing so. By feeling like a black sheep both here and in the body building community in general, maybe we have other, I probably have a different opinion on what a body should look like, but I would rather look like a square than a triangle. These exercises has led me to just get bigger traps (I look more like a Christmas tree), maybe a slight raise in shoulders but not remarkably. I'm guessing I'm doing the slides wrongly by doing too aggressive overhead shrugs by the time my arms are up? - I couldn't find a better example for now but Kobe Bryant (lol) does not have massive traps, he's very ripped and still having a very square-ish look. My shoulder weren't depressed _at all_ a few years ago, but I've been stupid and been working out completely wrong. By the fact that I've made my shoulders depressed, do I have to get big traps if I want to raise them, and that's just something I have to deal with? Or is there a way to look more like Kobe without getting massive muscles between my head and shoulders? Maybe I'm doing the right exercises, but poorly executing them. Or maybe you have some other exercises for me. And last question, how long does it take to do this? Like 3-5 months? Sorry for the long post. Hope you could help a rookie. I admire your work.

    October 25, 2014 at 7:45 am | Reply to this comment

    • Zach

      ********pretty sure my body is NOT compensating by doing overhead press

      October 25, 2014 at 7:46 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Zach - I by all means didn't mean for my article to convey the notion that those exercises are BAD or that they should be avoided. You have to remember that the main reason for me writing it was that I work with a lot of overhead athletes who present with this posture and who also have symptomatic shoulders. Meaning, they're in pain. I also see the same presentations in the "meathead population." It was just a blog post to offer information. Nothing more, nothing less. There are plenty of people who walk around with "depressed" shoulders who are pain free, and live perfectly fine lives. If this is you, cool. No need to read more into the post than that. If you're happy with how you look and you're pain free. High five. You win the internet today. Relax.

      October 27, 2014 at 9:15 am | Reply to this comment

      • Zach

        I don't think you understood me, I DO have depressed shoulders, and by doing these exercises I only get bigger traps, and the shoulders are still as depressed as before (maybe a slight difference). And I do NOT like it. I was wondering what I was doing wrong - I realise you just can't know that instantaneously, but maybe you know why that might be, whether it's a common thing by rookies to execute these wall slides/flexions/exercises poorly, or that I'm missing a significant part of training that regular readers would already know of. So my shoulders are still depressed and I'm only gaining in traps muscle mass. I'm NOT happy with how I look, and even if I'm not in permanent pain (I do feel unflexible at times) I still want to gain a good posture/scapular stability.

        October 27, 2014 at 9:50 am | Reply to this comment

        • Zach

          I.e., I just don't want to get huge traps, and still having the problem with depressed shoulders. My question in the first post was if getting bigger traps is something that comes with it (a must) in order to get less depressed shoulders? Or if I'm just doing it wrong and don't have to compromise by getting massive traps?

          October 27, 2014 at 9:53 am | Reply to this comment

        • TonyGentilcore

          My apologies Zach....;o) I didn't have any carbs yesterday (hence the crankiness). Well, the upper traps do play a role in upward rotation of the scapulae, so I have to assume that if you've done the drills in the article, there's been "some" improvement. It's hard for me to make any concrete suggestions over the internet - and especially having not seen a picture to properly asses. I assume you're young? Relatively little training experience? If so, you have PLENTY of time to grow into your body. GIve it time.

          October 27, 2014 at 8:51 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Skotten

    How can I train my lats without getting a downward rotation/depression? My shoulders are depressed, but not necessarily by too much training. I've just started (although probably only done exercises to make it worse). As carrying heavy groceries, sitting in front of the computer, pull-downs, rows, shrugs and so forth. (Before I knew I couldn't hit the gym without preparation [oh so naive]). I don't wanna do pull-downs as I do these exercises to prevent them from going down even more. Is there a way to do lat workouts or do I have to be patient and wait until my shoulders are balanced?

    December 30, 2014 at 5:24 am | Reply to this comment

    • Skotten

      I would really appreciate an answer. :-) Thanks!

      January 20, 2015 at 4:07 am | Reply to this comment

      • TonyGentilcore

        How do you know you have a low shoulder girdle? Is superior medial border of scapulae below TS? Do you present with more of a horizontal clavicular angle? To be honest, if you're new to training and have little experience, "sloped" shoulders could very well be the fact that you just don't have a lot of muscle to begin with. You don't need to avoid training the lats.

        January 20, 2015 at 10:39 am | Reply to this comment

  • Martin

    Hi Tony, are depressed shoulders and scapular winging often linked, I have been struggling with both of these especially after a long day at work in the chair, any thoughts? Thanks.

    March 30, 2015 at 5:42 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Sure, both can be present. You'd just need to address each issue with smart programming, The drills offered i this post will help. As far as the winging, things like scap wall slides and such will help (low traps), because they help with scapular posterior tilt

      March 30, 2015 at 10:53 am | Reply to this comment

  • Daniel

    Hey i have downward rotation on my left shoulder. I have been battling this problem a while; i love going to the gym but the problem messes with everything. I have eliminated all pulling movements except for facepulls, as they do work retraction but in a position of upward rotation. I foam roll and use wall slides and Ys as pre workout mobility drills but i dont know if they help. The only pushing i do is push ups with feet elevated as they put more emphasis on the serratus to help upward rotation and from time to time i'll try some form of shoulder press but its uncomforatble. My problem is ive tried overhad shrugs for a while with both dumbells and barbells, but i can only feel it in my good shoulder, i cant feel the left upper trap working, any tips or cues for the exercise? Thanks

    May 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      I'd recommend seeing a manual therapist Daniel. It's hard for me to say with any certainty what you should or shouldn't be doing over the internet. I think the overhead shrugs may be too advanced at this point, and if I were you I'd revert to things like forearm wall slides with reach or landmine presses with shrug. But in the end, seeking out a reputable manual therapist may be the best avenue to walk down at this juncture.

      June 7, 2015 at 8:48 am | Reply to this comment

  • The Difference Between External and Internal Impingement of the Shoulder

    […] in this scenario we’d want to place a premium on addressing scapular position (improve upward rotation), as well as address any shoulder instability. Overhead athletes are notorious for having super lax […]

    July 15, 2015 at 10:53 am | Reply to this comment

  • Tim Jones

    What protocol would you adopt where thoracic kyphosis and GH protraction AND accompanied by considerable tipping of the inferior angle of the scapula (and the "sloping"/low should position where clavicles are roughly parallel to the ground)? Is this a similar problem to the article? Thank you.

    June 6, 2016 at 9:47 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Hard to say without seeing you in person Tim. If there's pain present, I'd recommend seeking out a reputable manual or physical therapist to take you through an assessment. Generally speaking, from what you detailed, more upper back strengthening (rows), t-spine extension, and low trap work (to get more posterior tilt) would be in order.

      June 8, 2016 at 6:04 am | Reply to this comment

  • Mohammed Hossain

    if one of the shoulders are depressed, do you incorporate 1 arms variations of wall slides and shrugs for that side only or do you suggest hitting both sides? I noticed that in the exercises to avoid, you didn't mention horizontal pressing exercises like the bench press or push up. Wouldn't there be compensation in those movements because the shoulders are in an uneven position?

    June 23, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Absolutely! You have two arms/two shoulder girdles/two shoulder blades. One side can present one way, and the other can present something different. However, no one is ever going to be 100% "symmetrical." If pain is present, obviously something is awry, which makes assessment and any subsequent corrective strategies important. Often you can implement the correctives prior to training to encourage better positioning and then proceed to bench press, push-ups, etc.

      June 27, 2016 at 8:53 am | Reply to this comment

      • Mohammed Hossain

        Just one last question, you said you considered overhead shrugs to be an advanced variation. Is that because most people can't get there arms overhead and/or their traps are inhibited? For example, someone like me who has a depressed shoulder (picture attatched, not very sexy I know), can get there arms overhead with no problem.

        July 1, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Tim Jones

    Hi Tony, have you ever helped anyone with atraumatic sternoclavicular joint instability (anterior subluxation of clavicle when elevating or abducting humerus)? I have this issue and believe my depressed scaps/girdle are at least part of the cause. My upper traps are non existent and my shoulders sit low with downward rotation at rest. As soon as I shrug my upper traps it sets everything in a much more "flush" position at the SC joint. Thanks.

    September 7, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Can't say that I've personally worked with anyone with that condition. Do you have hypermobility in general? Sounds like some dedicated upper trap work would bode well (but in such a way that scapular upward rotation is involved).

      September 8, 2016 at 7:56 am | Reply to this comment

      • Tim Jones

        Shoulder specialist has told me I'm "at the stretchy end of normal". It's a relatively rare dysfunction but thankfully painless and benign as it were. Medial clavicle pops up and down with elevation and abduction. Can I just ask a stupid question (!) about the bottoms up KB carry? As I understand it, it's a corrective exercise, so what's the purpose of the walking bit? Why is walking better than just standing still and holding that isometric contraction? Is it because walking means involving the kinetic chain? Thanks a bunch.

        September 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Reply to this comment

        • TonyGentilcore

          I wouldn't call it a corrective exercise. It's an exercise. The walking part is a progression, you certainly don't have to do it....but including it definitely adds to the challenge of making sure the KB doesn't tip over.

          September 12, 2016 at 7:58 am | Reply to this comment

  • Tim Jones

    Hi Tony, have you ever helped anyone with atraumatic sternoclavicular joint instability (anterior subluxation of clavicle when elevating or abducting humerus)? I have this issue and believe my depressed scaps/girdle are at least part of the cause. My upper traps are non existent and my shoulders sit low with downward rotation at rest. As soon as I shrug my upper traps it sets everything in a much more "flush" position at the SC joint. Thanks.

    September 7, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Can't say that I've personally worked with anyone with that condition. Do you have hypermobility in general? Sounds like some dedicated upper trap work would bode well (but in such a way that scapular upward rotation is involved).

      September 8, 2016 at 8:56 am | Reply to this comment

      • Tim Jones

        Shoulder specialist has told me I'm "at the stretchy end of normal". It's a relatively rare dysfunction but thankfully painless and benign as it were. Medial clavicle pops up and down with elevation and abduction. Can I just ask a stupid question (!) about the bottoms up KB carry? As I understand it, it's a corrective exercise, so what's the purpose of the walking bit? Why is walking better than just standing still and holding that isometric contraction? Is it because walking means involving the kinetic chain? Thanks a bunch.

        September 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Reply to this comment

        • TonyGentilcore

          I wouldn't call it a corrective exercise. It's an exercise. The walking part is a progression, you certainly don't have to do it....but including it definitely adds to the challenge of making sure the KB doesn't tip over.

          September 12, 2016 at 8:58 am | Reply to this comment

  • Rob Cole

    Hi I think I have a elevated shoulder which is causing tightness in the rotator cuff like the superspunatus. When I deadlift my left shoulder the elevated shoulder is hiked up and its rounded. Could you help me i can't seem to find something that will release it or help it become health. Thank you

    November 9, 2016 at 1:40 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Tony

    You can't correct "sloping shoulders" for most people. I have yet to see any photographic evidence or otherwise of someone who displayed more "square" shoulders at rest following supposed corrective exercises to fix this. Moreover, most people with sloping shoulders have perfectly fine ROM of the shoulder complex. What is actually causing sloping shoulders is the shape and width of their clavicle, as well as the insertion of the surrounding musculature. Only surgery could fix this and has been demonstrated in patients with clavicular hypoplasia through distraction osteogenesis/bone grafting and fixation.

    November 3, 2018 at 2:32 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Leanne

    Hi Tony, I have a female client with opposite shoulders to you! Here's are shaped like a square. She gets pain in her upper traps and levator scap. They are literally on fire! What type of correctives/exercises would you recommend her do? I'm thinking soft tissue work, breathing drills, t-spine mob, farmers carries, rows, ...

    January 10, 2019 at 10:02 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Tony

    Most people with "depressed" shoulders just have either a) narrow clavicles, which causes the scapula to rotate (as they are attached at the AC joint) and b) have more curved clavicles as opposed to straight clavicles. Tightening the upper traps or levetor scapula won't causes any change in how the clavicles naturally sit (in those that aren't depressed due to tightness across the pecs/lats etc.) In this picture from Eric's website, there is nothing that the client on the right could ever do to look as narrow and depressed as the client on the left. And likewise no amount of rehabilitation exercises done by the baseball player on the left will ever produce permanent scapular rotation and elevation of the clavicles to have the broad, square swimmers physique. People are built differently, there are too many people who immediately claim "dysfunction!" due to some arbitrary "ideal" biometric.

    December 13, 2019 at 6:33 am | Reply to this comment

  • Marcin

    I dont get why farmer walks aint good if someone have depressed shoulders. If you carry dbs with slight elevation it can actually help for this problem.

    July 23, 2020 at 10:36 am | Reply to this comment

  • josh

    I forced my shoulders down for years because YouTube fitness people preached keeping my shoulder blades in my back pocket. It really destroyed my natural biomechanics. Slowly but surely getting back to normal

    September 28, 2020 at 2:15 am | Reply to this comment

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