TOSposture

improve posture opening chest

We often find that we can improve posture by opening the chest muscles and fascia. Stretching and opening key tissues in the chest is a vital step in the process of correcting head forward posture and rounding of the shoulders. These postural challenges cause chronic pain, limit range of motion and are precursors to more serious problems.

Restriction in pec minor and related structures is a key element in Upper Crossed Syndrome and most cases of Forward Head Posture.

The Mighty Pec Minor

Pectoralis Minor is a small, but important muscle of the chest. However, perhaps we should think of it as a “front of the shoulder” muscle. It runs from our upper ribs to the coracoid process of the shoulder blade that reaches out past the front of the shoulder joint. Therefore, a tight pec minor rounds our shoulders.

Self-Compression of Pec Minor

We begin with self-compression using a tennis ball. Locate the area in front of your armpit, near the top of your rib cage. Position the tennis ball against extra molding in a doorframe (the door stop).

Then place the area near your rib cage against the tennis ball held in the doorframe. Gently explore, looking for tender areas, and tight bands. If you find some, explore them and try to release these areas with the tennis ball.

Stretching Pec Minor

Next, we recommend a “passive stretch” for pec minor, done while lying on a foam roller. This stretch is the easiest exercise you have ever done! Lie down on a foam roller lengthwise. Position yourself on the roller so that it fully supports your head and sacrum. Relax and let gravity do the work for you in a controlled manner.

If you cannot rest your head on the roller without elevating your chin, use a folded towel or small pillow to elevate it for now. You should not feel awkward or off-balance with your entire spine, feet, hands, and arms supported.

Note that in the second example, the model has his arms hanging in space. They are hanging because of the tightness of his pecs. However, this makes it impossible to relax, and it would be better to support the arms with pillows or a blanket roll until his chest opens further.

belly breathingOne of the challenges with passive stretching is that it takes several minutes, during which you can’t really do much else. However, this is a great time to practice fully exhaling from the chest along with diaphragmatic (belly) breathing.

We focus on exhalation beca