It’s a chestful life…

So continuing in a downwards direction, having looked at necks here and shoulders here, I thought we’d give some thought to our chests. The much maligned, oft-aesthetics only chest area but an area that is given much consideration by Physiotherapist’s. Why? Read on…

So where is your chest today? Is it expanded and air-filled with your arms hanging gently to the sides and your head in perfect balance atop? Cue artistic drawing of an alien…


chest image - desk slumpOr is your chest crushed and dragged down by the weight of your head and shoulders, squashing vital organs and gasping for air?


An average set of male lungs are capable of holding six litres of air – but only if they’ve got room to breathe!

So, assuming that you’re sitting:

  1. lift your head skyward
  2. draw your shoulders gently backwards
  3. draw your bellybutton slightly inwards
  4. find the bony points of your bottom to sit on
  5. take a deep breath and….. relax.

In doing this you will gently stretch out and expand your chest area. Attaching your your arms, neck and shoulders to your ribcage is a serious amount of muscle and soft tissue stuff, all very important for performing any task that is in front of us – writing, computer use, cooking, boxing, sewing etc – think most of the things that we do! But because these ‘in front of us’ activities make up most of what we do and because most of us tend towards a ‘lazy’ posture, the chest area is at risk of getting tight and restricted and as a result drags our shoulders and head forward and out of balance (see pink pic showing very approx direction of pull of muscles).┬áThis can lead to a number and variety of neck, shoulder and back aches and pains – hence why your chest is of interest to me!

We can’t however all ditch our jobs, throw in the towel and lead a life less chestful ­čÖé but we can include a few key movements every day to try and keep our bodies in better balance. Remember the rules that have gone before in the ‘necks’ and ‘shoulders’ articles? Chin back, shoulder rolls and shoulders gently back? Give yourself a poke every ten minutes or so to check that you’re sitting correctly and remember points 1 – 5 ┬ástarting with ‘lifting head skyward’ above.

If you are blessed with a good sized chest and/or have downwardly slopey shoulders then give your body a break and rest your arms on chair armrests whenever you can, as you’ve more of a drag on your upper body than those without.

pec stretchAnd one great nugget of a stretch that really gets to the point is shown in the image here. Find a wall or doorframe and position yourself as shown, making sure that the upper part of your arm is supported against the wall/doorframe. Gently lean forwards and/or turn slightly away from your supported arm, making sure that the supported arm doesn’t move. Hold for up to a minute, easing slightly further into the stretch as able. Relax, repeat, ta-da!!!


And... big stretch! I hope that you find the information here useful and I hope that my artistic illustrations are clear! As usual do drop me a line if you’ve any queries or anything that you’d like to discuss and if nothing else, I hope that I’ve helped you to take a load off your chest!

Contact Details

Calder Physiotherapy & Massage
18 Albert Street
Hebden Bridge
07981 931853

Visit the Facebook page for updates

Calder Massage on Facebook

Gift Vouchers Available

SOS Childrens Villages