Jeremy Waite


Stretching advice

Chest stretch for the Pectoral muscles

The most commonly heard complaint on the massage couch is about pain in the neck and shoulders. Inevitably this is one of the most complicated areas of the body due to the range of movement provided by the shoulder, shoulder blade, head and neck.

However, one of the most common problems is a forward angling of the shoulders caused by the pectoral muscles (major and minor) being tight. This problem is a direct result of the way we live our lives today – hunched over the computer, crouching over a steering wheel or collapsed forward in front of the television. This tightness causes the muscles on the back of the shoulder complex to be over-extended which then makes them painful, and therefore a pain in the neck can actually have its root in the chest.

Position and function of the muscles:

The Pectoralis Major originates along the clavicle and sternum with the fibres effectively twisting over themselves to attach to the top of the humerus. This muscle adducts the shoulder in all planes as well as working to flex and extend the shoulder (ie. it is an antagonist to itself). The pec major will also medially rotate the shoulder which brings it into play as a powerful muscle for swimmers during front crawl.

The Pectoralis minor runs from the coracoid process at the front of the scapula to ribs three, four and five. Pec minor’s primary roles are to depress, abduct and anteriorly tilt the scapula.

The stretch:

The basic premise of this stretch is to think that you are opening out your chest.To begin the stretch, stand up in a doorway or near a wall with good posture, having a straight back and open shoulders. Then place one forearm in the doorway or against the wall and rotate your shoulders and upper body away from this arm. Make sure not to force the movement and feel the stretch working across your chest. When you reach the point where you first feel the stretch, hold the position for 10-15 seconds, relax and then repeat 2 or 3 times. NB - Make sure that you carry out the stretch by rotating your body away from your arm and not by forcing your arm into the doorway or wall.

Moving the height of your arm up or down against the wall will allow you to work different fibres of the muscles, and so experiment with this to feel the different areas of your chest open up. Remember to do both sides of your chest even if only one side feels particularly tight.

Inevitably, bearing in mind my job, my final recommendation would be to also get a sports massage if you are particularly tight, as the massage work in conjunction with the stretching will help ease the muscles even further.

Please note:
- Stretches should only be performed gently, not with any discomfort or pain and only subsequent to a gentle warm up
- When stretching do not bounce or strain into a stretch, increase the pressure slowly to a point where you feel the stretch become active
- Care should be exercised to perform all stretches correctly – if in any doubt please contact a specialist for verification on stretching manoeuvres.

Jeremy Waite works as a Sports Massage Therapist in Berkshire covering areas such as Streatley, Goring, Pangbourne, Wallingford and Reading.

Back to Strengthening and Stretching Exercises

Providing sports and remedial massage as well as training and rehabilitation advice throughout Berkshire and Oxfordshire and especially to clients in Streatley, Goring, Pangbourne, Wallingford and Reading.

Pec stretch

Contact details:

Jeremy Waite PTS (Dip), MSMA, MISRM
5 Underwood Cottages
The Coombe
Reading, RG8 9RA

Studio: 01491 872556
Mobile: 07827 926123

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