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Shoulders Back in Irish Dance

Take a closer look into why Irish dancers roll their shoulders forward and how to correct their Irish dance posture.

There isn’t one cure-all to keep your shoulders “back” in Irish dancing. Different imbalances in each dancer can cause the compensation that bring your shoulders forward. Three of the top reasons Irish dancer’s shoulders roll forward are: 👉tight muscles on the front of the chest, 👉weak muscles on the back of the body, and 👉sinking in the hips when hopping.

Let's keep it simple and take a closer look into why we make these compensations as dancers and most importantly, what we can do about it.

Irish dance posture.

"Tech Neck"

Hours spent scrolling on your phone or tablet or sitting at the computer can cause some big issues with your posture. Dropping the head forward and rolling the shoulders in can be one major cause of tightness in the front of your chest and weakness through the mid and upper back.

Carrying Stress in your neck and shoulders

Tension through your neck and shoulders is a common symptom of stress and anxiety. This tightness will cause the shoulders to rise and round forward.

Underdeveloped or imbalances in back stability and strength

Many dancers with postural issues neglect to train one of their most important core stabilizers, their back. Weakness through the mid and upper back can be a contributing factor to a dancer's shoulders rounding forward.

Immobility through the shoulder joint

Shoulder mobility is so important for Irish dancers and unfortunately, often overlooked. In order to get your shoulders "down and back" without compensating by squeezing your shoulder blades together and jutting your ribs out, a dancer needs to have ample mobility through the shoulder joint. This is also a huge indicator to a dancers ability to keep their arms in.

Instability through hips and lack of glute strength

If you sink when you dance, most likely you are also shifting forward with your head and shoulders to offset the weight of hips pushing back. This can be confusing for many dancers who get corrections of "shoulders back" and work to squeeze their shoulders back as hard as they can. When in reality, it's their hips sinking behind them which is causing their body to become off balance and shift their shoulders forward.

So what do we do about this all?

  1. Increase shoulder mobility.

  2. Improve mid and upper back strength and stability.

  3. Develop glute strength and hip stability.

If you're interested in specific exercises in these three areas, check out the new Shoulders Back - 5 Minute Quick Break on the TT Online Institute! Not yet a member? Try it out with a 14 day FREE trial (no code necessary). Get started at

Happy Training!

Ellen G Waller Irish dance strength and conditioning coach

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