Relax Your Pecs to Make Everyday Tasks Easier
By: Tiffany Lord | Yoga poses demonstrated by Tiffany Lord ~
Have you ever carried heavy grocery bags and felt it shouldn’t be that hard to lift them onto the counter? Are you feeling the soreness from pulling weeds in the yard or moving around the planters? If the answer is yes, your shoulder muscles may need some love!
The following activities are common shoulder mobility issues I often hear from my clients.
Here are a few others that may leave you feeling soreness or tension in your chest muscles:
- Washing your hair
- Picking up your grandchild, pet, or chair
- Reaching behind your seat to find your purse
- Taking a full breath
These everyday activities involve the Pectoralis Minor and Major, two muscles on the anterior shoulder that help you reach your arm forward (flexion), reach your arm behind you (extension), draw your arm toward your body (adduct), internally rotate your arm, stabilize your shoulder blade (scapula), and even help you breathe.
As with all muscles, the pecs are meant to contract when working and relax when at rest. Sometimes, however, they contract or relax too much due to reasons like injuries or poor posture.
Let’s focus on allowing the pecs to rest. The following are my two favorite yoga poses to release tension in your pecs. All you need is a rolled blanket or towel.
- Roll a blanket or towel lengthwise.
- Lay on the blanket so your entire spine and the base of your head are supported. Legs can be extended or knees bent with feet on the floor (as shown).
- Focus on letting your shoulder blades hug the blanket or towel, so your arms roll open and you feel a “waterfall effect” across your chest (a drop of water would roll off your shoulder onto the floor). Adjust the height of the roll as necessary.
- Once comfortable, close your eyes and take 5-8 rounds of breath. Slow and steady, in and out through your nose. Notice what you feel in the pec muscles across your chest.
- When you feel complete, slowly roll over to one side and sit up.
Elevated Supine Twist
- Fold the blanket or towel lengthwise to your desired height.
- Lay on your right side on top of the folded blanket or towel with your spine along the edge. Bend your knees.
- Open your left arm out onto the floor, keeping your hips stacked with your right hip on the ground.
- Relax your shoulder blade towards the floor. If your arm does not touch the ground, feel free to prop a pillow underneath it.
- Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes and take 5-8 rounds of breath. Slow and steady, in and out through your nose. Notice what you feel in the pec muscles across your chest.
- When you feel complete, slowly roll back to center and repeat on the other side.
Remember, the benefits of yoga are cumulative. Practice up to three times a week for the next month and see if you notice any positive changes. The changes could be less soreness or stiffness, more fluid motion, or being able to do something you haven’t done in years.
I hope, through practicing yoga, you can improve your overall quality of life and have the freedom to do what you want without worrying if you’ll “pay for it later.” You deserve to feel better, and yoga can help!
NOTE: These yoga poses may not be appropriate for you depending on your musculoskeletal issues and/or injuries. If you have questions about using any of these poses, reach out to me at email@example.com, or discuss with your private yoga coach and/or physician.