I Feel Bad About My Shoulders

Stand up straight! Don’t slouch!

Did you hear that a lot as a kid? I did. I didn’t obey, and today I am sorry for it. My back and shoulder issues are worsening with age.

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Shoulder issues – the shirt is on grain. I am off grain.

I don’t wear a lot of striped or plaid tops for this reason. This shirt does a great job of showing the problem – my right shoulder is lower and forward of my left shoulder, and I have a bit of a hunchback developing on my left side.

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side view

Because the top of my body slumps this way, the bottom of my body hyperextends the other way to compensate. You can really see it on this pants muslin. Those drag lines from the front thigh around to the back calf tell the tale:

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Doomed from every angle!

Here’s what these back and shoulder issues look like from the front – note the two shoulder heights, plus drag lines on the right at the armpit, pointing to other fitting problems.

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Three issues conspired in my childhood to create this problem:

  1. I was very tall for my age – about 5’4″ in 6th grade – and I was very ungainly and self-conscious. I slouched and slumped to try to make myself look smaller.
  2. I had a mild scoliosis. I should have worn a back brace, but I didn’t get one. I don’t really know why my parents ignored this. My mother once said she was afraid kids would pick on me. Anyway, we had no money.
  3. I wore a backpack to school slung over only my left shoulder, which probably partly explains why it developed the way it did.

My inability to stand up straight ruined my wedding pictures:

wedding
Bride of 1999

And it’s starting to cause me some pain. Things will only get worse if I don’t work on it.

My winter self-improvement plan involves working on my posture. I am going to try a few things:

  • Medical assessment of my posture – how bad it is and what I can expect if I don’t address it
  • Exercises to fix it, or at least to stop it from getting worse
  • Gadgets and garments that might help
  • Sewing and alterations to minimize the cosmetic problem

I am curious if any readers have struggled with this and have tips or experiences that I might find valuable. Please drop me a line if you do.

Author: shoes15

I live in Connecticut, USA with my husband and my dog, in an old house outfitted with a sewing room, a garden, an orchard, and a big liquor cabinet.

15 thoughts on “I Feel Bad About My Shoulders”

  1. Interesting topic and one that I should pay more attention to. A few years ago when I was sewing a lot each day I started having more frequent migraines due to slumping over my machine and stressing my neck. I began wearing an elastic posture support, easily found on amazon. I used to use something similar years ago whilst ballroom dance training to correct my frame.

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  2. I am also very tall and slouch to take up less space which led to back problems and RSI. I’d be very interested to hear how you get on with anything you try! I have a few things that have helped me. I found doing Pilates reduced the pain when I had bad RSI symptoms. I also paid a lot of attention to my desk setup at work; it takes ages to get it just right again if I have a change of computer or desk but it makes a huge difference when it’s correct.

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  3. Pants for Real People has a section about adjusting for posture; there’s another Palmer-Pletsch “for Real People” books that has a section for adjusting for a high shoulder/low shoulder and a hump. I know I definitely have a slightly lower shoulder on the left and higher on the right from carrying my purse on the left and using a mouse with my right hand on desks that are always a little too tall for me.

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  4. I meant to add that using an adjustable standing desk has helped with computer posture issues when standing, but sitting, it seems like there is no desk that goes down low enough for a person as short as me. :/ Maybe getting an adjustable desk will help you?

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  5. Everyone’s different but something that made a surprising difference with my desk was keeping the surface as clear as possible and removing all the things I’d stashed under it. Not that it was very messy, but having even a little thing in my way tended to cause me to sit awkwardly and I wasn’t even aware of it.

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  6. Best of luck with your endeavour – I don’t have any advice other, just good wishes. Scoliosis runs in my family and I know it can cause a lot of pain (physical & emotional).

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  7. I did physical therapy for a shoulder injury and all of the exercises they had me work on really improved my (poor) posture. I’d highly recommend it. If I had just tried doing the exercises without someone guiding me through the correct form they wouldn’t have been as effective.

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  8. Thanks for your good wishes. I feel this issue could stand to have more attention. I’ll see where it goes. How are you feeling these days? I was happy to see you sewing again and glad that you won a IPM prize.

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  9. Thanks! I was glad to sew for IPM too (I’m wearing the dress right now actually!). It’s up and down, have been able to get out for some appts which is good but I can see myself deteriorating again as the weather warms up. Just trying to get things done before it becomes oppressively hot.

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  10. I totally feel ya here- I have 2 shoulder pads on one side of Ms Holloway the dressform and none on the other- and all necklines get adjusted accordingly.
    Oh, and my asymmetrical haircut helps the illusion that I’m not standing on a slope!

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