The chest muscles (pecs) are often over-worked in fitness and training programs, and tight pecs can 1) change the posture of the shoulder, 2) limit shoulder range of motion and mobility, and 3) may increase the risk of developing shoulder injuries.
|Note:There are many things that can cause postural problems or shoulder injuries. All the information on this site is for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, seek the counsel of a licensed health professional.|
Posture is such an important aspect of health and fitness.
When you have good posture, your joints are in a balanced position. When you have bad posture, your joints are in an unbalanced position and this leads to increased pressure and decreased stability around that joint.
The natural tendency at the shoulder joint is for the pecs to become tight. And if you do lots of exercises for your chest without stretching adequately, you may enhance the tendency for the pecs to lose flexibility.
Sitting at computers and being hunched forwards while sitting also contributes to the tendency of the shoulders to turn inwards.
When the pecs are tight, they will tend to turn the shoulder inwards (internal rotation) and change the position of your shoulder joint.
When the shoulders are turned inwards, more pressure is placed on the rotator cuff and the shoulder joint.
It is important for everyone to maintain good flexibility in the shoulders. And if you lift weights for your upper body or play a sport that involves your arms it is even more important to maintain good flexibility in the chest and shoulders.
The doorway stretch or the corner stretch are both good stretches for the chest.
In order to increase range of motion, use static stretching. Static stretching involves holding a good stretch for 20-30 seconds. Perform each stretch 1-3 times.
The foam roller has become a popular tool in the fitness and rehab industries. Trainers and therapists are using it as a way for people to massage their own muscles.
Massage is great for tight muscles, but not everyone can see a massage therapist on a regular basis. The foam roller is a cheap easy way to get some of the benefits of massage.
You can simply use your body weight to gently massage the pecs with the foam roller and this can assist with improving range of motion in the shoulder.
When combined with static stretching, the foam roller can really help to loosen up tight muscles.
In addition to stretching the pecs, strengthening the upper back muscles and rotator cuff can help to support better posture at the shoulder.
When the shoulder is turned inwards, the muscles at the front of the shoulder tend to become tighter that normal and the muscles at the back of the shoulder tend to become weaker than normal.
By stretching the chest muscles, and strengthening the upper back you ma can improve the function of the shoulder joint by making it more mobile and more stable.
So many people neglect stretching because it doesn't feed into their vanity goal.
A woman might ask, "How can stretching help me to tone my chest and arms?" or a man might ask, "How can stretching make my chest look like Arnold Schwarzenegger's?"
The truth is stretching simply helps your body to move more efficiently and when your body moves more efficiently you are less likely to get injured and you will perform at a higher level.
So stretching might not give you "Madonna Arm" or ripped biceps, but it is really important for your overall health and fitness.
Remember to stretch your chest muscles, and don't neglect the rest of your body either.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT
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