So Guys, this is Sidney, my skeleton, lying on my couch. This photo is taken from head down (notice his skull). Now, have a look where my fingers are. The tip of my ring finger is placed on the very end of the scapula spine (shoulder blade).
So when I'm assessing my clients I want to know how many fingers I can get between that part of the scapula and the couch. This tells us how far forward the shoulders are rounding. And the more rounding the more problems clients usually face as nerves and tendons become compressed as well as the upper back feeling 'tight'. So ideally we want this to be 2 fingers or less. We also want the left and right side to be balanced.
So test this on a friend or partner (and get them to return the favour). Get them lying down on the floor or table with their hands resting on their belly. Feel for the shoulder blade bone (Scapula spine) and follow all the way to the outside of the shoulder to the edge (as in photo). Then place your fingers one by one to see just how far forward their shoulders are from the table/ floor.
If it's more than 2 fingers or if one side is further forward than the other then any pain in shoulders or arms that they have may not be coming from the site of pain. In fact I have also seen a rounded shoulder on the right side be the cause of pain in the left hip/ back. The site of pain is rarely where the cause is.
One exercise to try to improve this is a Muscle Energy Technique for the Pec minor.
Place one hand on the front of the opposite shoulder. Press your shoulder forwards into the opposite hand. If you are doing this correctly, the shoulder should not move as the hand is in place to prevent this from happening. Press at a comfortable resistance (~20% resistance to start). Make sure your shoulder does not move and that you relax your neck. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Release and repeat 2-4 times on each side. You can also perform this lying down or seated.
Here's a video to explain…
Alternatively you can also do this with a partner. After assessing (whilst they are lying down) place your hands on the front of their shoulders. GENTLY press down whilst they resist you (which means they will be pressing upwards into your hands). Neither of you should be moving as the contraction should be static. As above, press at a comfortable resistance (~20% resistance to start). Again ensure that the shoulder does not move and that you are both breathing. Hold for 10-20 seconds. Release and repeat 2-4 times. You can also complete this from the side, one shoulder at a time.
Check out the video below…
Don't forget to retest afterwards. If there is an improvement you know this exercise is one you're going to want to work on. If not, try something else and retest. Everyone is different. This detective work is the fun part ;-)