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How to Solve the Problem of Uneven Shoulders

How to Solve the Problem of Uneven Shoulders

Commonly, uneven shoulders (or high and low shoulders) are may be higher or lower on one side, which affects the appearance. They are also called oblique shoulders.

Cause of Uneven Shoulders

Congenital (inherited): Spinal dysplasia, scoliosis.

Acquired: bad posture, resulting in rhomboid muscle/ trapezius muscle strength imbalance. This is basically excessive force on one side.

Most people have high and low shoulders because of bad habits. Most times this is seen in office workers and students who are always at their desks and sedentary.

What kind of habits contribute to uneven shoulders?

  • Long-term poor sitting posture, such as cross-legged.
  • Reading and writing on your stomach for a long time.


  • Carrying a shoulder bag on one side for a long time.
  • Carrying heavy objects with one hand for a long time.
  • Repetitive motions from some sports that use one hand for a long time, such as table tennis, badminton, volleyball.


What’s the harm in uneven shoulders?

  • High and low shoulders are essentially the bending and deformation of the spine.

They’re caused by the lifting of the shoulder blades. When the scapula is lifted, the thoracic vertebrae will have lateral bending deformation. Changes in body posture are often the result of one tiny change moving the whole body. This is similar for uneven shoulders, scoliosis, pelvic deformity, long and short legs and ankles, etc.

  • Shoulder and neck pain and dizziness

Shoulder and neck muscle asymmetry will produce tension and stiffness in other muscles. The shoulder and neck cannot naturally bear this disturbance.
Muscle tension further affects the cervical spine. After some time like this, the physiological curvature of the cervical spine becomes straight, and the ligaments proliferate and calcify. It can also compress blood vessels, affecting the blood supply to the brain and causing dizziness.


Visual self-test

Stand naturally, relax your shoulders and see if you are half as flat in the mirror. Or stand with your back against the wall (legs together, shoulders relaxed, chin slightly retracted), and then find someone to help you see if your shoulders are the same height and in a straight line. You can usually see the difference in height when you have high and low shoulders.


Action self-test

Hold your hands behind your back and try to lift them to your hips. If you can’t lift your hands to the height of your hips, it may indicate high or low shoulders.


Dr. Robin Wang provides physical therapy, sports rehabilitation and training at the Body and Soul Medical Clinic – Hongmei Road (Minhang) clinic. Click here to make an appointment with him.