Taking time to stretch your chest muscles can be the difference between strutting your stuff tall and confidently or having a Quasimodo-like physique. Chest muscles are no stranger to tightness, because most work is done at the front of your body -- and if your upper back is weak, your shoulders roll forward, making you susceptible to pain and injury. Instead of settling for this, combat it by stretching your chest at least twice a week so your muscles stay long and flexible.
Stand upright in a doorway, position your feet shoulder-width apart and step your right foot about 6 inches forward. Alternatively, use a corner of a room to do this stretch.
Raise your arms out to your sides up to shoulder level, straighten your elbows and rotate your hands so you can place your palms on the wall surrounding the doorway. Keep your shoulders down and your neck long.
Lean your body forward into the door opening until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing the tension and returning to an upright stance. Repeat the stretch three times.
Behind Head Chest Stretch
Stand proud and tall, place your feet parallel next to each other and pull your shoulders back and down.
Raise your arms, bend your elbows and put your hands on the back of your head with your fingers intertwined.
Pull your elbows back as much as you comfortably can and squeeze your shoulder blades together until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds and do this stretch three times.
Behind Back Chest Stretch
Stand upright, face forward and pull your shoulders back and down.
Bring your arms behind your body and intertwine your fingers so your palms face your body.
Straighten your elbows, pull your hands down and simultaneously squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your chest forward. Hold this chest stretch for 30 seconds and repeat it three times.
- Warm-up your muscles with 10 minutes of low-intense cardiovascular exercise before stretching.
- To target more muscles during the doorway stretch, extend your arms up in a V shape and place your palms on the wall around the door opening.
- Breathe normal while you stretch -- avoid holding your breath.
- Consult a doctor before taking on a regular stretching routine, especially if you have a health condition or injury.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.