Arm & Chest Stretches
Your arms and chest can be frequent sources of tightness and soreness. According to massage therapist Clair Davies in his book, "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief," tightness in your chest muscles can keep your shoulders pulled forward, exacerbating chest and back pain as well as making certain arm motions more difficult. Stretching your arms and chest can help loosen and lengthen tight or constricted muscles. Consult your doctor before beginning a stretching regimen.
Your bicep is a flexor muscle, meaning that it contracts when you bend your elbow, according to Teens Health. The bicep is located on your upper arm. Stretching your biceps is an important part of avoiding injury during certain arm exercises; stretching also helps alleviate feelings of tightness. According to the Center for Young Women's Health at the Children's Hospital Boston, you can perform a simple standing bicep stretch at home. Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Lift your arms parallel to the floor so that you are standing in a "T" position. Slowly rotate your wrists so that your palms face the wall behind you. You should now feel a stretch across your upper arms. Hold the stretch for several counts and release.
The tricep, located on the back of the upper arm, is a counterpart to your bicep muscle. According to Teens Health, the tricep is an example of an extensor muscle, which contracts when you straighten your arm. Tricep stretches can help to loosen, lengthen and tone the arms. To perform an easy tricep stretch, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Raise your right arm over your head and bend at the elbow. Grab your elbow with your left arm and pull the right arm toward your left shoulder. Hold for a few seconds, release and repeat on the opposite side.
Door Frame Stretch
The door frame stretch is a beneficial stretch for the chest and arm muscles, especially if you spend a lot of time hunched over at your desk or in front of the computer. Stand in a door frame with your arms holding on to the wall. Lean your weight forward. You should feel a stretch across your chest muscles and under your armpit. Move your arms up and down along the door frame to increase the stretch and to stretch different areas of the chest. Hold for several breaths and release.
The chest stretch, recommended by the University of Rochester Medical Center, helps stretch your entire chest as well those in your upper back and arms. To perform this stretch, interlace your fingers behind your head. Bring your elbows back toward the wall behind you, stretching as far as possible without pain or strain. Inhale and lean back, holding the stretch for several breaths. Release and repeat.
- The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief; Clair Davies
- Teens Health: Bones, Muscles, Joints
- Center for Young Women's Health: Bicep Stretch
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Deskercise for the Office Bound
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- Zöllner A, Abilez O, Böl M, Kuhl E. Stretching Skeletal Muscle: Chronic Muscle Lengthening through Sarcomerogenesis. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(10):e45661. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045661
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.