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Back Exercises For Better Posture & Shoulder Health

shoulder exercises

There are a lot of bizarre and not backed by any evidence theories in fitness that seem to gain more and more momentum. Some of the oddest stem from the ideas that exercise can not help posture and that your scapula movement issues are due to a single muscle not working. This of course leads to both a lot of muscle isolation training and the idea that you don’t need good posture to lift well. Neither is founded on any science, but gets repeated all the time.

For a long time, it was recommended that back exercises be used to help issues of posture like forward head. Such postures are problematic because they put great strain on the muscles of the neck (that can lead to a host of issues) and mechanically alter the position of the shoulder to perform. If you don’t believe me, just slouch your shoulders and try to lift your arms and then sit in a more upright posture and see what happens to your shoulder range of motion. Different, right?!

thoracic mobility

If we always hold poor posture then shoulder issues can form from the neck causing problems, altered mechanics, and imbalance of muscle strength. However, there are those that are claiming that back exercises like rows don’t play a big part in our ability to address these issues. Is there any science to support that it can or can not?

A 2022 study found, “This current study concluded that a 4-week scapular retraction exercise was effective on treating forward head posture among university students. A simple, effective, and convenient set of scapular retraction exercise intervention was proven, as it aims to contribute to the physiotherapy field and the knowledge of intervention in treating forward head posture.”

A 2020 also concluded, “There is significant effect of Scapular Retraction Exercises in reducing Forward Head Posture.”

So, there is a lot of evidence (this was just a few) that back exercises if done correctly can have a very positive effect on posture and this could help our shoulder mechanics as well.

Instead of bouncing our body, lifting way too heavy of weight, or cheating what exercises like bent rows can teach, physical therapist, Jessica Bento helps us with better ways of using back exercises that will help us with posture, functional muscle, and healthier shoulders.

What about the idea that if you have winging scapula or a condition known as scapular dyskinesis (an alteration or deviation in the normal resting or active position of the scapula during shoulder movement.) you gotta work isolated scapula work right? Actually research says that integration and these types of back exercises can do so much more for your shoulder health and performance.

A 2003 study by the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommend this approach even with issues like scapular dyskinesis…

“Treatment of scapular dyskinesis is directed at managing underlying causes and restoring normal scapular muscle activation patterns by kinetic chain-based rehabilitation protocols.”

Exercises like Jessica shows below are going to be far more effective in restoring proper shoulder mechanics because the back exercises and shoulder focus is integrated with the core and lower body as well.

The key isn’t to understand how to perform back exercises and shoulder drills more effectively and with greater intent. That is what we are going to be cover in our online Shoulder Health & Performance Masterclass that starts next week (last days of our early bird are HERE) and you can find out so much more in our corrective programs (save 20% with code “save20”) HERE