The rhomboid muscles located between your shoulder blades are important posture muscles because they retract the shoulders. They also rotate the shoulder blades downward. It behooves you to keep these muscles strong to avoid slumping shoulders. Strength training and stretching go hand in hand as stretching the rhomboids keeps them flexible and prevents pain in the upper back and neck. Perform stretches three times, holding each for 10 to 15 seconds.
Fixed Bar Stretch
A fixed bar attached to a wall or heavy object provides a stable anchor for you to hold while you stretch the rhomboids. To perform this exercise, hold onto a bar and stand an arm's length away. Without moving your feet, shift your hips backward and straighten your legs. Keep your spine and arms straight.
Twisting Rhomboid Stretch
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The twisting rhomboid stretch is similar to a seated spinal twist. Instead of twisting toward the outside of your bent leg, you twist toward the inside. To begin, sit with your legs straight in front of you. Cross your right leg over the left but do not move the left leg. Place your left hand on the floor behind you and grasp your right ankle with your right hand as you twist to the left. Look down and use your elbow to push your right knee outward. Repeat on the other side.
Straight Arm Across the Chest
This stretch lengthens the rhomboids while you sit comfortably. Sit cross-legged or in a chair -- whichever is more comfortable so you can focus on your stretch. To do the stretch, sit however you like as long as your spine is straight. Reach your left arm across your chest with the arm straight. Pull your elbow toward your chest with your right hand. The left palm now faces behind you. Switch sides. You may do this stretch standing if you prefer.
Bent Arm Across the Chest
This stretch is similar to the straight arm exercise, but it may feel slightly different. By bending the elbow, you can pull your arm farther across your chest. To do this stretch, sit or stand comfortably but with the spine long. Bend the left elbow and reach behind you over your right shoulder. Cross your right arm under your left so it too is bent. Pull your left arm closer to you to increase the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.