Today we introduce another stretch. This can be an important stretch when we talk about bringing our working posture back to normal as it relates to the shoulders. As the day goes on we typically start to round our shoulders forward as well as the upper part of the thoracic spine. It’s easy for this to happen and most of us do it without noticing.
One of the issues that may arise from this postural alteration is impingements of the neurovascular structures of the upper limb, called thoracic outlet syndrome. This syndrome may develop as a result of this poor posture and can cause multiple symptoms including, arm pain, numbness, coldness, fatigue or swelling. Abnormal neck posture may contribute to this as well, and we covered some of those solutions in our previous posts.
This stretch works with the muscles of the chest, the pectoralis major and minor. These muscles help to draw the arm in toward the body. Over time they may become shortened or tight when we do not keep them moving or stay in a protracted position for long periods of time.
To perform this: Stand in a doorway (with the door open of course). Raise the arm with the elbow bent to 90 degrees. Place the forearm flat on the door frame to help spread out the weight. Slowly lean your body forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the chest muscles. Go to your comfort level and don’t stress yourself too much. Hold this stretch for 2 breaths and repeat for 10. Integrate this stretch with our previous ones. Perform a few of these stretches every couple of hours if you can. Otherwise perform 2 sets of 10 in the morning and evening.
*The goal here is to stretch the muscle, not to cause pain. If you have pain while doing this modify it (don’t go as far) to be pain free or skip it.