Do you find yourself slouching and hunching over your desk for long periods of time? Do you end up with sore, tight shoulders, a stiff neck and headaches? This simple exercise is a great chest stretch to help counteract poor posture. Plus, it’s only five minutes out of your day.

I’ve been seeing an osteopath recently to investigate the cause of some pain I’ve been experiencing around my shoulder and up into my neck. I have a tendency to round my shoulders, which is particularly noticeable when I’ve been hunched over my laptop for a long time. I’m often aware of and I try to counteract it with chest stretches. She gave me this basic exercise to do which has had positive results in relieving some of the pain and discomfort.

So if you find that you spend a lot of time at a desk or on devices, hunching your shoulders forward, this could be a great exercise for you.

I’ve always thought that I needed to strengthen the muscles of my upper back to help pull my shoulders open, to improve my posture. But this osteopath has shown me how I can stretch across my pectoral muscles.

Pec stretches against the wall

So here’s one way of doing a pec stretch. Come to a corner, bring your elbow in line with your shoulder and palm flat to the wall. Gently start to press the chest forward until you can feel a stretch across the pectoral muscles. Or, if you don’t have a good corner, you can bring your hand flat onto the wall, square the shoulders, and then just gently start to press forward. 

chest stretch corner
Pec stretch on a corner
chest stretch wall
Pec stretch flat on the wall

5-minute chest stretch

This is a very simple but effective exercise. All we need is a small hand-towel. Double it up, and then roll it up tightly, then lay on the ground. You might feel more comfortable with something to put under your knees, such as a cushion or a bolster.

Align the hand-towel between the shoulder blades, down the upper back, along the spine. Just use a small hand-towel. If you use something bigger such as a foam roller, you won’t get the same result because you’re forcing your body into a more extreme position. Even with only a small hand-towel, I can feel the stretch across my chest area. It’s enough to help relieve some of the pain that I’ve been feeling in my shoulder.

Do this at the end of the day before you go to bed. It’s a way to counteract your posture from the day and any muscular tension that has crept into the chest area. Although it’s only a small exercise, it may have quite an intense effect depending on how tight you are. 

Lay down, nestle the towel down the middle of your spine, in the upper back area, have a little wriggle until you’re comfortable and then open your arms out in a capital “T” shape.

Rest here for five minutes.

When you’re ready to come back up, take your time. Roll on over and push yourself up to seated.

Please let me know how you get on with this simple but effective chest stretch! I hope it helps you. Please share your experience in the comments below. 

Please note that I am not a medical professional and this video is not intended for self-diagnosis or treatment. Practise at your own discretion. If you are experiencing acute pain anywhere in your body, discontinue this exercise. Please see your doctor or other medical professional.