Do you see one shoulder rolled forward when looking yourself in the mirror?
Or perhaps just one shoulder rolling/rotating more forward than the other one.
Forward rotating shoulders (rounded shoulders) are a common problem that is very often due to poor posture.
We spend an incredible amount of time sitting in a forward leaned position focusing on thing in front of us like computers, tablets, phones, and books.
If you are not very mindful of your posture while sitting in this position, then you easily end up slouching.
A cool way to think about your posture is that it is basically a reflection of what kind of position you are in most of the time.
Sitting in a forward leaned position / hunched-over position for a long time will over time give you that kind of posture.
What happens is muscles in front of your upper body become shortened and tight and the back becomes elongated and weak.
If you have just one shoulder rolled forward it is most likely not any different from both shoulders rolling forward. Only that it is either only affecting one side or more dominant in one side.
If you unsure about determining if your shoulder is really rolled forward, then you can check this quick read on how to tell if you have rounded shoulders.
Why Only One Shoulder Rolled Forward?
While there are many reasons why you could end up with one shoulder rotating forward, the cause is most likely that the frontal muscles in your upper body are tight in the side where your shoulder is rotating. E.g. chest and trap muscles.
Here are some different reasons that could explain why you have one shoulder rotating forward.
Sports or exercise with a lot of throwing and/or pushing on just one side.
Manual labor where you mostly work one side. E.g. if you are right handed you probably use that side more.
Bad ergonomics, posture or movement patterns sitting at a desk over a long period. E.g. you spend a lot of time in front of a computer while leaning either right or left.
Holding or carrying your baby (or an object) on one side. It is for a good reason why rounded shoulders is also called “mom posture”.
Some time ago I injured my shoulders. The problem was a small joint called the AC-joint that connects neck and shoulder. I had a problem with both AC-joints and it created a lot of tightness and pain on each shoulder but it was especially my left one.
The result was that my left shoulder rolled more forward than the right one.
How To Fix It
In order to fix your one rounded shoulder you basically have to do the same as when both shoulders are rounded.
You need to do both stretching and strengthening exercises in order to stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak muscles.
I like to use either a wall corner or a doorway to stretch my chest by placing my arm on the wall forming a 90-degree angle at the elbow and then lean into the wall or doorway.
You can play around with the angle a little bit to get stretches in different directions.
Any kind of row will work great to strengthen your upper back, but it might be wise to avoid bend-over rows in this case.
With a bend-over row, the weight is pulling the shoulder forward towards the floor.
To maximize the posture correcting effect of this exercise you should put a lot of focus on squeezing those shoulder blades together as you are on the top of the movement fully contracting.
It is a good idea to go a bit lighter so you can focus on this. I personally like to do seated cable rows because I feel it is easier for squeezing the shoulder blades.
If interested you can check out this post on how to fix a hunched posture where I mention more exercises.
Giving It Some Extra Work
Besides general stretching and strengthening exercises for your upper body, I would say that going a bit tougher on your chest muscles is probably a good idea.
There are two things I would recommend.
1. Therapeutic Chest Massage
Use a lacrosse ball or something of similar shape and density (tennis ball might work) to massage your chest. You can either place the ball on your chest and use the palm of your hand to roll it, or you can put the ball on the floor and gently roll your chest into it.
It works really well and after some massage you should feel some immediate relief. But don’t overdo it as you can end up bruising your bones.
2. Pinch And Stretch
You can make the chest stretch more effective (also more uncomfortable) if you first pinch the tight chest muscle and then stretch.
In this video, the guy uses the metal handle on a dipping rack to first pinch his chest and then stretch by externally rotating the shoulder.
If you are at home you can do a modified version of the door stretch to get a similar stretch for your upper chest.
Instead of putting your elbow with a 90 degrees angle in the doorway, put your shoulder in a doorway and lean in so you are pinching the part of the chest closest to the shoulder.
Now slowly slide your arm upwards along the wall until you can feel a nice stretch. You will probably hit an angle of 70 – 60 degrees.
Fixing your shoulder requires effort and a long time. Probably something like doing exercises several times per week for months.
If that sounds tough you might want to consider buying a product that can make things easier and potentially the process up.
I recommend getting a posture corrector which is exactly what it sounds like. They come in different shapes, sizes and price.
You can check out my guide on how to choose the best posture corrector for rounded shoulders.
While these products can make things easier for you, for best results you will also have to do the exercises.
Taking advice over the internet is easy and convenient, but it does have its limits.
Sometimes poor posture can lead to complications which require a professional assessment.
If you have a hard time putting your shoulder in the right position, e.g. stretching feels very uncomfortable and/or you experience weird tingling sensations then it could be that some nerve is trapped due to your tight muscles and imbalances.
If this is the case I would recommend you to see a professional, e.g. a physiotherapist or chiropractor. They will be able to do a full assessment of your body and give you a personalized solution.