Stop Taking Your Shoulders Back

Stop Taking Your Shoulders Back

Take your shoulders back is the worst instruction you can hear in yoga and exercise and in life.

And you hear it all the time, and it is likely impossible to count the number of times you have heard it since you were a wee child.

It’s often accompanied with, stand up straight and take your shoulders back, or stand up tall and take your shoulders back.

It’s what I heard, I would think, every day of my life. 

It’s what most of us have heard. 

Stop Taking Your Shoulders Back

And I think it is just the worst instruction ever offered. 

The human shoulder is not supposed to be locked in place. I learned that from one sentence in the book, Human Movement Potential, by the great Lulu Sweigard.

If you take your shoulders back, you are by definition, locking your arms in place. 

Here is the simplest argument I have for why you need to stop taking your shoulders back:

There is no activity you really do for leisure, for fun,  for the effective performance of anything… that involves taking your shoulders back.

It, you know, if you cook, you’re going to bend forward. If you play baseball you stick your butt out and lean forward, if you play golf, tennis, soccer, basketball, etc, etc.

We do all of these activities by getting into the core through the front plane of the body. Taking your shoulders back robs you of that possibility.

When you take your shoulders back you end up leaning backward and compressing the spine which leads to so many of the issues that people who age poorly are forced to deal with. If you stop taking your shoulders back so many good things can happen.

So. Stop. Taking. Your. Shoulders. Back.