The effects of an exercise intervention on forward head and rounded shoulder postures in elite swimmers

Br J Sports Med. 2010 Apr;44(5):376-81. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2009.066837.


Objectives: To examine the correction of posture, increase in strength and decrease in shoulder pain and dysfunction in varsity swimmers.

Design and setting: Randomised clinical trial.

Participants: Twenty-eight National Collegiate Athletic Association division I varsity swimmers.

Measurements: Two testing sessions were conducted before and after an 8-week time period. Posture, strength and shoulder pain and function were assessed. Forward head angle was measured using a digital inclinometer, forward head translation was measured using a ruler and total scapular distance was measured with unmarked string. Average and peak values (N) of strength were measured with the hand-held dynamometer. The intervention subjects then participated in an 8-week exercise training programme to correct posture. The procedures were then repeated in the post-test.

Results: Significant group by time interactions (p<0.05) were found in forward head angle and forward shoulder translation indicating a decrease in forward head angle and forward shoulder translation. Significant main effects for time (p<0.05) were found in strength measures for all muscle groups indicating increased strength for shoulder girdle muscles tested.

Conclusions: The exercise intervention was successful at decreasing forward head and rounded shoulder postures in elite swimmers. This study supports the theoretical basis for clinical rehabilitation of posture and the shoulder.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle Stretching Exercises / methods*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Posture
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Swimming / injuries*
  • Young Adult