Variation #5: Chest Stretch for Better posture

In my video series “Variations on Six Conventional Exercises,” I adapt, demonstrate and teach exercise from a movement perspective. In this way, I put a fresh stamp on your workout program. My goal is to support personal trainers and 3-D Workout™ instructors as they build their knowledge and confidence for teaching the movement. The mechanics of a sequence are where we start but if you’re teaching 3-D Workout™, you should also know the ideas behind the mechanics.
This guide takes you by the hand through Variation #5, Pec Stretch for Posture. This deceptively simple stretch reminds us how everything in the body works together to keep us upright and moving for a lifetime. Use this link: to review Pec Stretch for Posture and let me know how my words inform your practice.

Benefits of Pec Stretch for Posture
IMPROVES range of motion (ROM) and flexibility in shoulder joints and spine for reaching in any direction.
MOBILIZES the vertebrae using a gentle whole-spine rotation
HELPS CORRECT upper body slump, rounded shoulders, forward head, concave chest.
RESTORES neuromuscular balance between front and back of torso
SUPPORTS throwing and racquet sports as well as all manual skills
BUILDS symmetry and balance between right/left sides
POSITIONS the body to TARGET the intended muscle group
HYDRATES the many layers of fascia in chest and upper extremity.
USES gravity to gently, gradually improve flexibility

Practice Tips
PREPARATION: take a side-lying position with support under your head, hips and shoulders stacked, elbows and knees at 90º
INITIATION: the forearm leads the opening with an in-breath
MAINTAIN the stacked position until the arm is perpendicular (90º) to the floor. If 90º is not yet possible, lift the arm as far as flexibility allows.
BREATHE out as you allow the whole arm to drift toward the floor
ELBOW flexion remains about 90º throughout
FOLLOW the arm with your gaze to reduce tension in the neck.
HOLD and breathe in the open position for up to 30 seconds, and be sure to repeat the sequence at least once. Enjoy improved ROM with each practice.

Movement Ideas improve your use of the sequence
ABOUT THE ‘FEEL’ OF THE STRETCH: When your arm rests on the floor, you have attained normal ROM for your shoulder joint. If you do not feel a stretch, you may be hypermobile in that joint and probably will not benefit from this stretch.
EXCESSIVE TORQUE on the spine may occur by clamping your knees together. Keep knees relaxed.

EXPECT to adjust your computer work station as your posture improves. A monitor that is set too low is hard on your posture and restricts your breathing.
A good STRETCH starts with positioning for the “geometry” of the musculofascial group; review and visualize the anatomy.

This stretch is also featured in my DVD/download, 3-D Workout™, v. II, Building on the Basics.