The chest muscles are among the largest and strongest in the upper body.
Hitting large multi-joint movements like bench presses, push-ups, and dips often increases chest strength and size at the expense of flexibility. Over time, this can result in shoulder pain, less than ideal posture, and just not being as athletic and capable as you seem.
For this reason, it is essential to incorporate stretching into your routine. Think of yoga as deep stretches that are essential not only to help your body recover after a long workout, but also to keep you mobile.
Even if you’ve already attended a class, make yoga part of your weekly workout routine with these seven easy moves to help open up your chest muscles while aiding your post-workout recovery.
Use them after each chest day or throughout the week when your shoulders are tense.
1. Reverse Table
This pose stretches not only across the front of your shoulders and chest, but also across your biceps, a hard-to-reach spot.
- Start in seated position with your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind you with your fingers pointing towards your heels.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you press your palms to lift your hips.
- Hold here for 10 seconds breathing in and out deeply through your nose. Repeat three times.
2. Prone cactus
Prone cactus is an inverted table extension. It allows you to penetrate deeper into the front deltoids and chest. Unlike the inverted table, where you have to hold your weight to find the stretch, the lying cactus allows you to relax and let your body weight do the work.
- Start on your stomach, with your right arm extended to the right.
- Relax your right shoulder and start rolling over your right outer hip. Relax your right shoulder towards the floor and feel a stretch in the right pectoral and front deltoid.
- Hold here for 45 seconds, then switch sides.
3. Extended Puppy
This pose is one of my favorites, as it targets the lats and deep underarm muscles, both of which tie into the shoulder and can contribute to shoulder pain. These are places we don’t go often, which is why giving them attention is so good.
- Start on your hands and knees, keeping your hips stacked on your knees as you move your hands forward.
- Press through your palms as you press your chest towards the floor.
- Hold here for 30 seconds breathing in and out through your nose.
Also Read: Effective Yoga Mudras For Your Healthy Heart
The locust pose trains you to bring your shoulder blades together as you widen your chest actively. This translates to increased strength, body awareness, and improved posture for the next time you’re under the bench press.
- Start on your stomach followed by your legs extended behind you. Squeeze your hands at the lower back.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you bring your heels back. Lift your chest and your heels.
- Hold this position for 20 seconds. Repeat three times.
5. Seated clasp hand
This pose is an extension of the locust, but the focus is on stretching the chest and front deltoids instead of building strength. Although this pose is simple, it is very effective.
- This posture can be practiced in any type of sitting or standing position. Just like the grasshopper, clasp your hands behind your back, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and extend your arms.
- Stay in this pose for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat.
6. Foam roller or “angel” block
It’s one of my favorite moves. Not only do I stretch my chest and biceps as I perform the movement, it also helps loosen up my rhomboids and trapezius, allowing for a greater range of motion in the shoulders.
- Lie down on a roller or foam block and place your feet flat on the floor.
- Extend your arms along your waist with the palms facing up. Relax the front of your chest by dropping your shoulder blades along the edges of the roll.
- Slowly slide the backs of your palms across the floor until your arms are above your head, then slowly descend, like a snow angel. Repeat 10 times.
7. Bridge with bent elbows and arms by sides
This is another simple but very effective gesture. When done correctly, you can use the leverage of your arms against the floor to expand your chest. This pose is more than just a stretch; it encourages good upper body positioning and healthy movement of the scapula.
- Start on your back while laying your feet flat on the floor. Your heels should be about the same distance from your hips and close enough that you can touch them with your middle finger.
- Place your elbows by your side. Press down on your upper arms as you lift your hips.
- Walk your shoulder blades together and for 20 seconds hold it. Relax your hips towards the floor and repeat three times.