By Jodie Bennett.

If you lift weights, work in an office or simply struggle with bad posture, chest stretches may be an essential activity missing from your daily routine. The pectoralis major muscle fans out from your arm, reaching your clavicle, the ribs and the sternum. Because it is a very thick muscle, it can easily become tight if you hunch forward or overuse the pectoralis muscles during exercise. If you find it hard to sit up straight, your chest muscles may be tight without causing acute pain. 

When the chest muscles are tight it can be quite a damaging muscle to the posture of the shoulder.  It is responsible for the internal rotation of the shoulder and when dysfunctional can cause issues with the opposing muscles in the back of the shoulder. When it is tight the shoulder rolls forward and the muscles at the back stabilising the shoulder are now forced to work from a compromised/stretched position. This can invariably lead to rotator cuff problems due to poor stability.

Catching a snatch in the right position requires good shoulder mobility.  Having tight chest muscles will never allow us to reach our full potential but not only will it effect our weight lifting it can effect us in our day to day life. A tight chest can through our neck forward causing head aches, it can inhibit our breathing and totally restrict our upright standing position putting so much tension on the muscles in the upper back/shoulder area.

If you are working on better shoulder all round stability you must must stretch you chest muscles to facilitate this. Work one muscle but stretch the opposing muscle.

Here are my favourites – you all know what they are if you’ve been to my mat class at The Pilates & Yoga Shed:

- Lye on the long roller.  

With the whole of the spine supported the arms are out at shoulder height. Like you are on a cross. Feel your shoulders blades rap around the roller and feel a stretch across you chest.

  • Roll on the Lacrosse Ball. 

To maximise this you need to externally rotate your shoulder in other words don’t let it roll in. The pec muscle attaches to the sternum so taking deep breaths while doing this trigger point will promote an active release.