“Douche bag shoulders”, make a better decision

Look around and watch the posture of people on their phone, behind a computer... or are just standing up. How many of them have their shoulders in a weird position, rotated forward and somewhat up, head sticking out? The American mobility expert Kelly Starrett calls that douche bag shoulders. Much to her upset Brenda discovered she has those.... eeehm... shoulders. Time to make a beter decision.

It was the first morning of the CrossFit Games, we just scored coffee at Starbucks at Hermosa beach. Naomi recognized a lady with curly hair as one of her sports idols: Valerie Voboril. So she asked Valerie to be in a picture with us. When I saw the result of that picture, I recognized it in myself: douche bag shoulders!!!! Look.... Valerie, on the left, doesn't have 'm, they are nice and backwards... see the difference with me, on the right.
I could have comforted myself with the thought that in the world of (top) modeling douche bag shoulders are considered an 'interesting angle', it is even quite common to pose like that. But, let's be real... Interesting angle? Maybe. Charming in real life? Definitely not!
The 'douche bag' position of the shoulder can even cause problems and injuries. The muscles on the front side (chest, front of shoulder) are getting shorter, tighter and stronger. They become dominant.  So the backside (rest of shoulders and upper back) gets weaker.  So what, you might say... until it starts to hurt or you get an injury.

How did you get them?

There are probably several causes, but 2 main culprits are usual: your smart phone and your computer. People slump in the weirdest positions when they use those devices, but pay attention to your shoulder position. Same goes times 10 for your position while using a smart phone: head forward, shoulders rotated forward and inward. Don't underestimate the force that put on your spine: your head weighs about 12 pounds and every inch it comes forward, it gets heavier. (And dropping it is not a solution either).

How do you fix it?

The word 'douche bag shoulders' was introduced by the American mobility-expert Kelley Starrett. He makes (badly filmed, but super interesting and sometimes hilarious) videos with solutions to often made mistakes, problems and injuries.
One of Starrets solutions for the douche bag shoulders is: get into position before texting or working on a computer. Like you set up for a bench press. Adjust the position of you phone or computer to your position, not the other way around. Or in his words: "Make a better decision!"

Besides watching your posture to prevent it getting worse, you can also do exercises to improve your shoulders.
1. Stretch your chest muscles. Palm of the hand flat on the corner of a wall. Step forward and stretch, In the studio you can use the poles, at home you can use a doorway.
2. Grab a large elastic band and attach it to somewhere high. Stick your wrist through it, pal of the hand aims up, arm up, pull everything in your midline tight (keep breathing!) and step forward putting a big stretch on the muscle. Pay attention that you don't automatically roll you shoulder forward to take the pressure of.
3. Grab a fixed bar behind you, it should be midline height. Lean in and stretch the shoulders. Pay attention to rolling the shoulders forward.
4. Take a ball (lacrosse balls are perfect), place it on your chest muscle and lean into a wall. Roll and if you hit a sore spot, hold for 20 seconds.

These are all stretches to get more range of motion on the front side. What also helps, is making the back side stronger. The best exercise we know for that is the Bulgarian goat bag swing. Believe me, that is what it is called.
Lift a heavy kettlebell with 2 hands. Place the round part in the pit of your stomach, pull you shoulders back and hold. Than bend forward, knees lightly bended: keep the kettlebell in place!

Long run

As with all things that we do on automatic pilot, learning new behavior is hard work and a lot of correcting. Make sure you don't whip yourself when you discovery you are 'doing it again', but applaud your awareness, determination and correction. Make fun of it, imitate Kelly Starett, set up in front of the computer and yell: Whoooaaaah..... Seeeeeeeet.... and become the straight shouldered Twitter/Facebook/What'sApp/text God!

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