This is a great stretch for people who get an ache in their upper back between their shoulder blades, as well as those with neck pain or who spend time looking forward or doing stuff with their arms in front of them…
What and Why:
This stretch targets your pectoralis major and minor. These muscles are very good at pulling your shoulders forward for such activities as typing on a computer, holding a steering wheel, cooking, cleaning, holding heavy objects and babies. In so much of what we do, our arms are pulled forward, shortening these muscles. The problem is, our very clever body adapts to this, telling itself that a short pectoral muscle is normal.
Why does this matter to our upper back? Those muscles do the opposite of the pectorals, and now that the pectoral muscles are pulled short, they have to work from a long position. The most tiring way to use a muscle is from a long position, so they get extra tired, and then they complain to you by aching.
The goal of this stretch is to encourage those pectoral muscles to be long again, so the back muscles can be happy, functioning at a normal length.
While stretching probably won’t “fix” any issues all on its own, it is an easy way to prevent injury and will help maintain flexibility and proper muscle length if done correctly. Regularly stretching your pectoral muscles can help remind your body that it isn’t normal for them to be short, and is one step in avoiding the development of chronic pain and postural issues. If you already experience chronic pain in your back or neck, this could help keep the situation from worsening, and is a great compliment to any massage or bodywork you are receiving for this area.
Approach the doorway as if you’re just passing through, with a bit of a stride stance. Bring up one forearm and rest it on the door frame. Keep your elbow and shoulder at 90°, and keep your hips and feet facing forward. Then simply lean into a bit of a lunge until you feel the resistance in your upper chest or the front of your shoulder.
Hold the stretch for however long feels appropriate, going into and out of the stretch slowly. Make sure you do both sides, even if only one side is bothering you.
Every time you walk through a doorway. Or at least, pick a favorite doorway or two, in your house, at work, at the gym where you work out, etc. It’s best to warm your body up before doing a stretch, such as after exercising, a massage, or a hot shower, but do what you can do, even if it’s just a brisk walk.
P.S. This is a great stretch to do in conjunction with the Scapula Depressions exercise .