Source: Best Health Magazine, Jan/Feb 2011; Illustration by Kagan McLeod
This stretch increases your range of motion and gives shoulders better flexibility, says trainer Ruth Sheridan, owner of the gym CrossFit Connection in Burlington, Ont. It can help relieve any tightening of chest muscles that can result from doing bench presses or push-ups. (Even sitting in front of a computer with shoulders rolled forward can cause that.) And regularly stretching the chest can help prevent kyphosis, a rounding of the back, she adds. ‘This is such a great stretch,’ says Sheridan. ‘And it feels really good.’
Stand with your arms by your sides. Let your shoulders relax. With a slight bend in your elbows, reach behind your back and clasp your hands together by interlocking your fingers. Take a deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Slowly push your shoulders back, and then straighten your arms. Push your chest out and slightly up. Keep looking straight ahead, and don’t hyperextend your neck.
‘You should feel the stretch across your chest and at the top of your shoulders,’ says Sheridan. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. You can raise your arms higher to increase the stretch, and hold for another 15 to 30 seconds. Do this move twice a day, in the morning and at night. If you have a desk job, Sheridan recommends doing it at lunchtime, too.
This article was originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!