Blog Fitness Workouts Chest Workouts Full Chest Stretch Checklist: 3 Reasons, 7 Benefits, 11 Exercises

Full Chest Stretch Checklist: 3 Reasons, 7 Benefits, 11 Exercises

Round shoulder problems? No chest mobility? This isn’t something you were born with, even though people may tell you that. Your problem could be tight, shortened chest muscles. You see, most of the things we do daily involve moving forward. We type on laptops, look at our phones, carry things. Without a proper chest stretch, the pectoralis major and minor get tight. That’s why your shoulders have moved forward. The result? Constant slouching that leads to improper posture. Gladly, you can solve this problem over time with chest opening stretches. The 11 easy exercises we’ll show you are going to open your chest area, improve mobility, and help you achieve a perfect posture.

BetterMe

Why Chest Muscles Get Tight: 3 Reasons

There are 3 main reasons for tight pectoral muscles:

  • Poor Posture

Keeping a poor posture for a long time (office work, extended phone use, etc.) makes your chest feel tight and closed. Over time, the body gets used to it and the muscles don’t open properly even if you’re relaxed.

  • Repetitive Motions

If your job involves heavy lifting or you’re a fan of push-ups, your pectoral muscles will stiffen if you don’t do stretches for chest tightness.

  • Upper Back Tightness

The muscles in your upper body are interconnected. So, if your upper back is tight and sore, pecks may take the extra load on them to support your neck, shoulders, and arms. Such overcompensation leads to an excessive strain.

Read More: Resistance Band Chest Workout For A Muscular And Bigger Chest

See also
Good Chest And Arm Workout For Those Who Are Looking For A Challenge

chest stretches

The 7 Perks Of Chest Stretches

In addition to overall better muscle health and your looks, there are 7 more benefits of pectoral muscle stretch:

  1. Flexibility improvement.
  2. Range of motion improvement (good for working out since you can extend further) (4).
  3. Posture improvement. According to the Journal of Elbow and Shoulder Surgery study, stretching pectoralis minor can help you improve upper body posture (even more than manual stretching, i.e. massage) (1).
  4. Risk reduction of future muscle strain and injury.
  5. Strength increases due to better workouts and mobility.
  6. Soreness decrease for tight muscles (5).
  7. Better shoulder joint mobility. An injured pectoral muscle may cause shoulder ROM (range of motion) loss (3). So, as pec muscles help to move your shoulders, their health and proper length will secure them and improve mobility.

Proper stretching may bring a lot of benefits, but the keyword here is ‘proper’.

chest stretches

Before You Start Chest Stretches: Dos And Don’ts

So, how do you loosen tight chest muscles? You don’t start with the chest stretches right away. Make sure to read these dos and don’ts beforehand.

DO:

  • Warm up your muscles for about 5 minutes.
  • Try to monitor your posture during exercise and after finishing.
  • Deeply breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  • Make smooth motions and transitions.
  • Hold the stretch for up to 15-30 seconds or 3-5 breathing cycles (in and out counts as 1 cycle).
  • 2-4 reps in a row or during the day.
  • Go deeper into the stretch with every exhale (only if you feel comfortable).
  • Focus on positioning your shoulder blades down and pulling them back, opening your chest to lengthen the muscles.
  • Change the position of your arms if you feel the stretch in the shoulders instead of your chest.
  • Stretch 
  • Add upper-back, shoulder, and neck stretches to complement the session.
  • See your physical therapist if you feel acute pain while performing any of the exercises.
  • Bring all the attention and focus to your body.
See also
How To Get Rid Of Chest Fat-The Most Effective Fat Burning Exercises

Whether you’re looking to simply pep up your fitness routine, jazz up your diet with mouth-watering low-calorie recipes or want to get your act together and significantly drop that number on your scale – BetterMe app has got you covered! Improve your body and revamp your life with us!

chest stretches

DON’T:

  • Stretch cold muscles to avoid injury.
  • Make rough, sudden moves while stretching.
  • Do the stretch or do it lightly if you feel discomfort or pain.
  • Bounce during the exercises.
  • Start with high-strain exercises, ease into the low-strain ones first.
  • Start stretching if you have a pre-existing health condition, consult your doctor first.

Come back to review these recommendations whenever you need. Now, let’s overview the exercises we’ve prepared for you.

The 11 Exercises To Open Up Your Chest

On the list, you’ll see standing, sitting, and lying exercises. Consider trying all of them and choosing the ones that feel and work the best for you. If in doubt, consult your physical therapist. A specialist will know what chest stretches are the best for your particular case.

See also
Resistance Band Chest Workout For A Muscular And Bigger Chest

#1: Double Arm Stretch

  1. Stand straight, put your feet shoulder-width.
  2. Raise your arms to create a 90-degree angle with your torso, palms together.
  3. Push your arms to the sides and back as far as it’s comfortable.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat if needed.

#2: Stretch Against The Wall (Anchor Stretch)

  1. Stand near a wall, put your feet shoulder-width.
  2. Lift the arm closer to the wall, put the palm onto it, aim for a 90-degree angle between the arm and the torso.
  3. Push your arm back until your chest stretches nicely (feel it in the shoulder and bicep as well).
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat on the other side.

Tip: make sure you don’t push up at the wall, instead feel the light stretch that will lengthen your chest muscles.(6)

This exercise will help you monitor the entire posture, not limiting it to the upper body.(2) Keep in mind that the hips have to remain straight instead of flexing, compensating for the focus movement.

chest stretches

#3: Bent-Hand Wall Stretch

  1. Stand near a wall in a split position (one leg in the front, the other one in the back).
  2. Bring your arm (the same as the back leg) at shoulder level and bend it at the elbow. Your palm should be touching the wall.
  3. Gently stretch forward to feel it in your chest.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat on the other side.
See also
Pushups For Lower Chest You Can Easily Do At Home

#4: Arms Behind Back Stretch

  1. Basic starting point: stand straight, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Put your arms back, cross your fingers.
  3. Lift your arms up until you feel the stretch.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat if needed.

Fitness App

Read More: Pushups For Lower Chest You Can Easily Do At Home

#5: Elbow-To-Elbow Stretch

  1. Move into the basic starting point or sit down.
  2. Put your shoulders down and away from your ears, joining shoulder blades together.
  3. Put your arms behind your back and grab elbow to elbow.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat if needed.

#6: Arms Above Head Stretch

  1. Basic starting point (stand with feet shoulder-width apart).
  2. Lift your arms above your head and cross your fingers.
  3. Gently push back with elbows open.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat if needed.

#7: Doorway Stretch

  1. Stand a little bit out the doorway.
  2. Grab the doorway (it has to be behind you) with your arms creating a low angle with the torso.
  3. Gently stretch out until you feel the stretch in your chest and biceps.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat if needed.

#8: Corner Stretch

  1. Stand facing a free corner in your room.
  2. Put your hands above you on the walls.
  3. Stretch gently into the corner until you feel the stretch.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat if needed.

chest stretches

#9: Reverse Chest Stretch

  1. Get into a squatting position near a bench, table, or chair, gripping its edge with your hands.
  2. Slowly lower your body until you feel the stretch in your chest and biceps. Remember, no pain.
  3. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  4. Rest and repeat if needed.
See also
Resistance Band Chest Workout For A Muscular And Bigger Chest

If you struggle to even flirt with the idea of giving up your favorite foods or working out till your legs give way – BetterMe app is here to breathe a fresh perspective into the way you view the weight loss process! Check out the app and experience the fun side of fitness and dieting with BetterMe!

#10: Kneeling Chest Stretch

  1. Get into a kneeling position, put your arms on a table, bench, or chair.
  2. Slowly move your body back, stretching chest and arms.
  3. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  4. Rest and repeat if needed.

#11: Towel Stretch

  1. Basic starting point with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold a towel with both hands behind your back.
  3. Use it to slowly extend your shoulders. Try squeezing shoulder blades together.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Rest and repeat if needed.

Summary

Pectoral muscles are often overviewed in terms of stretching. In fact, their health and length are crucial for your posture and mobility. 

How do you loosen tight chest muscles?

Do chest stretches before a workout, after it, and at any convenient time of day. Incorporate the aforementioned exercises into your routine to increase shoulder mobility, resolve the issue of round shoulders, avoid slouching, and transform your posture!

BetterMe

DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Comparison of three stretches for the pectoralis minor muscle (2006, jshoulderelbow.org)
  2. Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain (2015, www.jstage.jst.go.jp)
  3. Pectoralis major tendon repair post surgical rehabilitation  (2007, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Range of Motion (n.d., physio-pedia.com)
  5. Sore Muscles? Don’t Stop Exercising (2022, webmd.com)
  6. The acute effects of two passive stretch maneuvers on pectoralis minor length and scapular kinematics among collegiate swimmers (2013, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Get started