Everyone remembers to stretch their legs when running. You stretch your lower back if you feel discomfort, and you stretch your neck and shoulders when they get tight. But do you stretch your chest and your upper back? Your chest muscles, or pectoralis major and minor, and your back muscles, or your traps and lats (among other minor muscles) make up some of the largest muscle groups in your upper body. Poor posture can bring on the tightening of the chest or tension in the upper back. Simple stretches can help alleviate tightness, pain, or discomfort in these locations.
Open Doorway Chest Stretch
Stand a few inches in front of an open doorway, facing it with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Hand placement – You can adjust the height of your hand and arm on the doorway to target different parts of your chest. The higher your hands are placed, the more pectoralis major you are stretching. The lower your hands, the more pectoralis minor you will hit.
Keeping your legs and torso straight, lean forward until you feel a light stretch in your chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Change the placement of your hands and repeat for a full chest stretch.
Upper Back Stretches
Extend your arms in front of you.
Left arm over right, bend your left arm into your right one.
Gently pull your left arm to the right with your right elbow.
Hold for 20-30 seconds then alternate sides.
Another great upper back stretch if you have a stable and secure horizontal bar or railing available.
For shoulder height:
Grab the pole or railing, palms down, and pull.
Keep your shoulders relaxed to stretch between your shoulder blades.
If the bar is at hanging height, hang with your hands at varying positions for a lat stretch.
If the bar is below shoulder height, pull gently without using your legs to stretch your traps.
Remember to breathe while stretching for maximum benefit.