Do you hunch forward when you’re sitting? Doing so can strain your upper back and neck muscles and weaken your pectoral muscles. If this is a problem for you, consider doing chest stretches for back pain and neck pain. You’ll be better able to keep your shoulders back to sit or stand up straight, which can ease the pain and balance your body.
The pectoral muscles, which are located on the upper chest, connect your arms to your trunk and help you push things like a loaded grocery cart or lawnmower, hug a grandchild close to your heart, or just more easily perform movements using your arms and shoulders, like pumping your arms as you walk up a hill.
You can build up strength in your pecs with chest or bench presses, push-ups or the dumbbell fly. Or try the two stretches for neck pain and back pain listed below; the first one you can do any time of the day.
1. Stand or sit in a low-back chair. Hold your palms face out to the sides of your shoulders and your elbows about waist level, making the shape of a “W,” keeping shoulders relaxed, not hunched. Bring elbows back to pinch shoulder blades together. Hold for three counts, relax and repeat.
2. Stand in front of a doorway, feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. With arms bent at the elbow in a 90-degree angle, place your palms on the sides or frame of the doorway. Lean forward and you’ll feel your pectoral muscles stretch. Bonus: The muscles on the front of your shoulders get a stretch, too.
If you have wrist or hand osteoarthritis, you can modify these exercises.