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The Much Needed Chest Expansion

Updated: Apr 9

Far too much of our day is spent hunched over ; whether it's technology, whilst driving, when eating, taking care of the kids, or watching Netflix. To counterbalance these repetitive, harmful and unavoidable activities it can be helpful to add chest opening exercises to your workout routine.

Before adding them consider this - instead of thinking of the body parts as separate units think of how they connect with other, how when one part is off balance another part will always have to compensate. If you are hunched over for most of the day your pectoral muscles will tighten therefore making them condensed and your chest short. In relation to this your shoulder muscles will widen making your upper back expand and wrapped forward. This happens simultaneously and gets worse over time. Ideally we are aiming for an even width in our shoulders and chest, like two rulers side by side.

Chest openers are a great way to expand the pectoral muscles in the chest to reverse forward leaning posture and helpful in expanding the function of the lungs and heart. It’s important to maintain an open chest with our sedentary life styles, not only to improve posture but for some to mitigate pain. Individuals with overly rounded shoulders may get a sharp pain between their shoulder blades, an ache down their arms or chronic feelings of tightness in their back. If you're athletic and are unconsciously hunched forward during the day say working at a desk all day with hardly any movement, the lungs can become compressed making them harder to expand with deep breaths hindering athletic performance.

Activities like weight lifting, swimming or strength training will add strength to the chest but also shorten and tighten these muscles which in-turn cam inhibit breath function and lead to poor posture, two traits needed to excel at these types of fitness. Not to worry though, try these chest expansion exercises to correct overly rounded shoulders and help relieve upper back pain

Prone Chest Stretch - lying on your front, box your left arm out and press your left hand in to the floor at the side of the mat. Hold your right arm in a goal posted position on the mat. Bend the left knee and rotate the left leg over the body to reach the floor on the right side of the mat, you should feel a deep stretch in the front of your right pec and keep pressing your right pec down into the floor.

yoga and pilates chest stretch

Arms back prone - work on opening the chest as well as pulling the shoulder blades together, as if you were squeezing a pencil between them. Don’t forget about your abs, your abdomen should be pulling up and in and your pelvis slightly tucked under.

Pilates Mat exercise

Airplane on Reformer - the same idea as the mat prone exercise with spring resistance to maximise the pull pack.

Reformer Pilates

Reformer Chest Expansion - its easy to round the shoulders forward when doing arm exercises behind the body, the main focus is to keep the collar bone smiling.

Chest Expansion

You can improve mobility in one part of the body by stretching another, twisting your palms and forearms in different directions will gradually add mobility through in the shoulder joint, try this with exercise number two. You're likely to feel tighter in your dominant arm so you might want to dedicate a little extra TLC to your right or left side accordingly. Lets get rid of the hunch

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