Tightness in the pectoral muscles is an important factor in neck pain or shoulder/upper back pain. Shortness in the pectoral muscles pull the shoulder blades forward and cause the upper back muscles to stay in a stretched, weakened position resulting in neck and shoulder pain. This often happens because of poor postural habits, but more importantly it is due to our always being hunched over our desks or computers. Doing a few pec stretches every day can help reverse poor posture, increase muscle length and decrease shoulder and neck pain.
Guidelines for performing the stretches:
- Check with a health care professional before you attempt these exercises to ensure that it is safe for you.
- Do the exercises slowly and gently. Failing to follow the instructions or consult with a health care professional could cause your symptoms to worsen.
- Try to breathe slowly and keep your body relaxed. Do not tense up or hold your breath as this will invite muscle spasm.
- You should feel a gentle stretching sensation, but you should not feel any pain during the exercises. Be especially careful of any sharp pain in the shoulder. If you do feel pain, decrease the range of movement by stopping before you get to the point of pain. Continue the exercise within the pain free range.
- If you cannot find a comfortable, pain free way to do these exercises, discontinue immediately and seek the advice of a health care professional.
- To increase the stretch, try to squeeze your shoulder blades together and slide them down your back while you are doing the exercise.
- Do the exercises in a set of 3 for a minimum of 3 times a day for best results.
- Hold the stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds each time.