You might think that I am being overly dramatic with the title of this post. However, I truly believe that this one stretch can and will change your life. You see, most of us spend so much time in a slumped position, that it is imperative we balance it out with stretching the opposite way. What do I mean? How much time a day do you spend with your shoulders slightly rounded forward and/or looking down? This would include activities such as: reading, studying, eating at the table, driving, watching TV, working on the computer (this also includes Facebook time, Pinterst time,YouTube, etc) , texting on your phone, doing your business on the toilet (sorry for the visual), picking things up off the ground, or even sleeping curled forward. If your occupation involves any of these activities, then you are spending a huge amount of time in this slumped or “rounded shoulder” position.
So what does this mean?
Your body is great at adapting to the environment it is placed in. For example, if your arm is constantly being challenged with lifting heavy weight, it will grow more muscle to adapt to that environment. If you then stop lifting heavy weight, it will then lose muscle to adapt to that environment. The same rule applies to mobility and posture. If you continually position your body in a particular position, the muscles, tendons, fascia, and neural tissue will adapt to that position. Specifically, a slumped posture over time will cause the development of tight anterior chest or pectoral muscles, tight suboccipital muscles (click here to see where that is as described in a previous post), a kyphotic (or humped) thoracic spine and weak back muscles (particularly scapular muscles).
So how does this affect your life?
This particular slumped posture can be the number one driving force behind: rotator cuff/impingement injuries, neck pain, headaches, other shoulder pain, upper back pain, and even jaw pain. You may not have pain in those areas right now, but if you continue to make withdrawals on your body’s account, without making deposits, you will eventually get a bounced check. In your body’s terms this means injury.
The number one, easiest and most effective way to make deposits to counteract the withdrawals you are making every day, is the foam roll pectoral stretch. There are so many benefits to this stretch, and it is easy to do. If you don’t have a foam roll (you can buy one on Amazon here) you can simply roll up a beach towel. This is not as effective, but it will get the job done.
- Lay on your back on top of the foam roll
- Raise your arms up as high as you can go while still keeping the hands resting on the ground and no shoulder pain
- Relax in this position for 2 minutes
- If you start to feel tingling in the hands, lower your arms until the feeling goes away, and return to the stretch. (If you continue to have issues, discontinue the stretch. You might have neural tension that needs to get more one-on-one attention)
I recommend laying on it in the position displayed daily for a minimum of 2 minutes at a time. If you have lower back issues, be sure to lay with your knees bent (not as shown in the photo).
If you develop the habit of doing this body maintenance stretch on a regular basis, you will be on your way to preventing painful and life-interrupting injuries in the future.
As with anything I post on this blog, if you have pain or a current injury, you should get it evaluated by the proper medical professional. This is not intended to diagnose, or treat any injury. The purpose of these posts is for injury prevention only.