Why Are My Shoulders Always Raised & How To Fix It

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Raised shoulders, often described as “shoulder elevation” or “shoulder shrugging,” can be a result of several factors including stress, poor posture, muscle tension, or overuse of shoulder muscles. Here’s a breakdown of why this might happen and how you can work to fix it:

Causes Of Raised Shoulders

Stress and Anxiety

When you’re stressed or anxious, your body’s natural response is to tense up, which often leads to raised shoulders. This is a part of the “fight or flight” response.

Poor Posture 

Spending long hours sitting with poor posture, especially while using computers or mobile devices, can lead to muscle imbalances. The muscles in the front of your body can become tight and short, pulling your shoulders forward and up.

Muscle Weakness or Imbalance 

Weakness in the back and shoulder muscles, coupled with tightness in the chest and front shoulder muscles, can lead to raised shoulders. This imbalance causes the stronger or tighter muscles to dominate.


Engaging in activities that frequently use the shoulder and upper back muscles, like carrying heavy bags or performing overhead activities, can lead to muscle fatigue and tension, raising the shoulders.

How To Fix Raised Shoulders

Improve Your Posture

Work on maintaining a neutral spine and shoulders. Your ears should align with your shoulders, and your shoulders with your hips. Make workstation adjustments for better ergonomics.

Stress Management

Techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help manage stress levels, reducing the tendency to tense up your shoulders.


 Regularly stretch the muscles of your neck, shoulders, and upper back. Focus on stretches that open up the chest and front shoulder area, like the doorway stretch or pectoral stretches.

Strengthening Exercises

Strengthen the muscles around your shoulders and upper back. Exercises like rows, reverse flies, and shoulder external rotation can help balance muscle strength and reduce shoulder elevation.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can provide targeted exercises, stretches, and other treatments to address muscle imbalances and teach proper posture.

Massage and Physical Therapy Techniques 

Massage therapy can help relieve muscle tension. Techniques like trigger point therapy or myofascial release can be particularly effective.

 5 Stretches For Improving Shoulder Posture 

Shoulders that are habitually raised or hunched can be due to several factors, including stress, poor posture, or spending long periods in front of a computer or phone. This position can lead to tension and pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. Improving shoulder posture can relieve this discomfort and prevent long-term issues. Here are some stretches and exercises that can help:

1. Neck Release

  • Sit or stand with your back straight.
  • Slowly tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards the shoulder until a stretch is felt on the opposite side of your neck.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

2. Shoulder Rolls

  • Stand or sit with your back straight.
  • Slowly roll your shoulders up, then back, then down in a circular motion.
  • Perform 10 rolls in one direction, then switch to 10 rolls in the opposite direction.

3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

  • Stand or sit with your back straight.
  • Bring one arm across your body at about chest height.
  • Use your other hand to press the arm closer to your chest until a stretch is felt in the shoulder.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch arms.

4. Doorway Stretch

  • Stand in a doorway.
  • Place your arms on the door frame, elbows at about shoulder height.
  • Step forward with one foot, leaning forward until a stretch is felt in the front of your shoulders and chest.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds, then relax.

5. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana)

  • Sit or stand with your back straight.
  • Reach your right arm upwards, bending at the elbow to touch the middle of your back.
  • Reach your left arm behind your back from below, attempting to clasp your right hand.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.

Take Away

Raised shoulders are often a result of poor posture, muscle tension, or stress, leading to discomfort and potential long-term issues with neck and shoulder health. To address and improve raised shoulder posture, incorporating specific stretches and exercises into your daily routine is essential. 

These should focus on strengthening the muscles around the shoulders, neck, and upper back, while also promoting flexibility and reducing tension. Key strategies include practicing mindfulness to reduce stress-related muscle tension, ensuring an ergonomic workspace to support proper posture, and regularly engaging in activities that promote overall physical well-being. 

Consistency in these practices can lead to significant improvements in shoulder posture, reducing discomfort and enhancing mobility.