As a runner, you might be quick to stretch your hips and hammies (hopefully!), but your upper bod needs some lovin’, too! When overlooked, stiffness in the chest and shoulders can mess up your form and steal your endurance — not to mention hurt your performance.
Running can easily make your chest tight, which “hunches” your shoulders forward. Tight pecs (chest muscles) will also cause your arms to cross your body — especially as you get tired — rather than move forward/back. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself rounding forward and flopping side-to-side as your torso strains to compensate for inefficiency through your arms. This common scenario is only amplified by time spent sitting, hunched over computers and steering wheels.
The solution? Open up that chest! This three-pose sequence will effectively stretch your pecs and shoulders so that you can maintain stronger posture and upper body form when you run.
Added bonus: maintaining “BIG” posture will also help you to feel more energized, and more confident!
Hold each pose for 5+ deep breaths.
Moving Goal Post
1. Grab a strap, belt, or tie, and reach overhead so that you’re making a big “Y” shape with it — if that feels hard, separate your hands further.
2. Keeping your hands where they are, pull the hands away from each other so that you feel some tone in your shoulders and chest.
3. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale bend your elbows and bring your strap just above your head.
4. Inhale — Straighten your arms back to a “Y”.
5. Exhale — Bend the elbows again.
6. Resist the urge to back bend aka let your rib cage pop wide open by gently engaging your core, as if you were “zipping up” your rib cage.
Wall Chest Stretch
1. Stand with your right side about a foot from the wall.
2. Turn your right palm forward and move your right shoulder blade in toward your spine as if you’re dong a “row” — it’s as if you’ve just turned a doorknob with your right hand.
3. Keeping your shoulder blade where it is, place your right hand on the wall behind about shoulder height, elbow bent at about 45-degrees.
4. Gently press into the wall with your right hand.
5. Continue to “zip up” your rib cage by gently engaging your core.
1. Bring your hands to your low back and interlace your fingers — if that’s not possible, just rest your hands on your low back with your fingers pointing toward the floor, or use a strap/belt/tie to make the connection between your hands.
2. Squeeze your shoulder blades toward each other and take your elbows closer together so that you feel your chest broaden.
3. Take a deep breath and “puff” up your chest.
If you have another 5 minutes…
1. Grab a bolster or stack a few pillows (or your runlovah!) and sit against the short end.
2. Lie back over your props and reach your arms out to the sides, with your palms facing up.
3. If your hands don’t easily rest on the floor, put something (like a folded towel) underneath them — same goes for your head.
4. Straighten your legs out in front of you, bring the soles of your feet together/knees apart, or bend your knees so your feet are on the floor/knees pointing at the ceiling — whatever feels the most comfortable.
5. Breathe deeply and stay for 2–5 minutes, allowing the front of the body time to re-lengthen, and a nice chance for the mind to unwind.
Keep in mind that once you get that chest limber, you’ll also need to strengthen your upper back to keep your shoulder blades stable — we’ll talk about that next month… Enjoy hitting reset until then!