Self Care – Doorway stretches for Chest Muscles

These doorway stretches are classic because they’re quick, effective and can be done almost anywhere. It is easy to stop at most doorways on your way back from the kitchen, office or bathroom. Even with minimal effort, a few stretches a day can offer notable relief and postural change.

These stretches target more than pec major. They catch all the extrinsic chest muscles, including pec minor, serratus anterior and subclavius. If your posture has high shoulders, the clavicular pec and the middle bellies of the serratus anterior should be targeted. If your shoulders are low and rounded, pec minor, costal pec, and abdominal pec should be targeted. Focus on the arm position that benefits you the most.

This post shows you how to use ice to stretch with less pain, in less time with more effective results.

Ice and stretch works with these stretches, even though they are passive stretches. Just ice the area over the area that is bold red in the first illustration. You’ll find that you get a greater stretch with less work.

Ice the center of the pecs in a triangular area, Start from the attachment on the arm across in strips along the entire sternum,

With your elbows at the same level as your shoulders, step into the doorway, stretching the center of the chest.

Next, ice the area from the attachment to the clavicle. This will open up the clavicular pec and ice the area over pec minor for the next stretch.

With your elbows below your shoulders, step into the doorway, stretching clavicular pec and the upper bellies of serratus anterior.

Upward Facing Dog from

Elevated shoulders are a common problem. Laptop usage contributes when people lean on their shoulders to support their body weight while working. Don’t miss the middle section of the serratus anterior when you are trying to loosen those tight elevated shoulders. It attaches all along the medial border of the scapula with fibers that run upward to the top 2-5 ribs.

Look at how this yoga practitioner pushes toward the ceiling with her head to lower those shoulders and catch all those scapular elevators. Most practitioners miss this critical element.

Lift your arm and ice along the border of your pec major all the way down to the top of your abdominals. You can ice the serratus anterior from the border of the scapula along the ribs and down to the chevrons where it attaches to the abdominals.

With your arms above your shoulders, step into the doorway, stretching the costal pec, abdominal pec, lower bellies of serratus anterior and pec minor. When the arm gets above ~45 degrees, the pec minor can really restrict this stretch.

Pectoralis Major and serratus anterior are complex and highly variable muscles. These posts on anatomy to better target your own needs,

This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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