Our chest muscles easily tighten when sitting hunched over, as many of us do every day.
Both poor posture and upper back problems can make this worse. If you’re looking for ways to loosen your upper body then you need to mobilise your upper back and chest together. These stretches (especially if you do both) work really well to relieve upper body stiffness and aching muscles.
Let’s describe the chest stretch.
Sit tall, with a long back and gently pull your shoulders back this is a good starting position.
By merely holding your elbow to the side you’ll feel a little pull in your chest muscles as they lengthen.
As you hold your elbow out to the side, with the same arm, lift your hand up to a ‘stop’ (or a half a cactus!) position.
This movement requires a little strength in your shoulder and upper back, so if this is hard simply use a wall to help you press back your elbow.
You only need to be gentle, as nothing is gained from forcing a stretch. Keep your shoulder down and relaxed, and breathe normally. Hold this position for a few breaths and then change sides. You may notice one side feels tighter than the other.
For the more flexible folk amongst us, you can clasp your hands behind your bottom and squeeze your elbows together. You get to stretch both sides of your chest into the bargain.