Most people don’t spend enough time stretching their pectoralis muscles. These are the muscles of the chest, and when they are tight it can cause problems ranging from poor posture to pain in the back and neck. A tight chest also limits shoulder mobility and can impede movement of the upper torso.
Do a quick posture check right now. Are your shoulders rounded and is your neck pushed forward in front of your spine? This slouched shoulder, slumped posture is typically due to tight pecs. Most people spend so much time in front of their computer or looking down at a device in a position that shortens the chest muscles and creates that rounded slump.
We need to open up and stretch our chest. This will improve posture and help not only the pecs, but also open up the muscles along the neck.
There are several ways to open up your chest.
- Foam Roller: Lie on a foam roller with the roller along your spine and open your arms wide making a ‘T’ with your body. Keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Allow the elbows to gently fall toward the floor. You can play with your arm position and move the arms up toward your head. Do this for 90 sec. to 3 minutes.
- Wall Stretch: Stand with your side to a wall. Take the arm closest to the wall and place your hand slightly above your shoulder to start, maintaining a bend in your elbow. You can stagger your feet and place your outer foot in front. Hold your hand on the wall as your rotate your upper body forward and away from the arm on the wall. Gradually let your arm straighten. You should feel a nice stretch as your chest opens. Keep rotating your torso for a deeper stretch, but be sure you don’t feel pain in the chest. You can experiment with your arms position on the wall, raising your hand above your head while you continue to turn your torso away from the wall to maintain the stretch.
- Arm chest stretch: Stand up tall and bring your arms behind you, taking one hand in the other. lift your chest and gently raise your arms.
For a youtube showing how to do a wall stretch, see this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0UsYkCUrqw
Here’s a video on doing a chest opener with a foam roller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7SeOmS4AdQ