Tight Pecs & Back Pain: A Love Story

Take a moment to assess your posture. If you’re reading this at your computer, you might be slouched, shoulders rolled forward, head jutting slightly forward. I like to call this our “caveman” posture. If you’re more of a mobile reader, you’re probably sitting in a similar position, but with your head tilted down. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people sit with their shoulders rolled forward in sort of a hunch when they’re tired, bored or concentrating.

Most clients come in expecting me to show them stretches for the muscles that ache, but that’s only half the problem. The muscles of the body love to work together and when a group falls behind, another group will pick up the slack, sometimes to its own detriment.

I’ve found, the pectoralis major and minor (the two main chest muscles) are two of the most neglected muscles in the body when it comes to stretching. If they get tight, they can cause all sorts of issues – not only locally in the chest, but over time this can cause imbalances and over-stretching of the upper back and neck muscles. This can cause headaches and even pain and numbness in the hands and arms. This leaves you with “knots” and that dull achy feeling you may have at the end of the day.

The good news is: stretching the pecs is as simple as putting your hands on either side of a doorframe so your elbows are at a 90-degree angle and leaning through the doorway until you feel a stretch. This will allow your shoulder blades to lay closer to your spine and give those upper and midback muscles some well deserved rest. This also allows your head and neck to be in a more neutral position, decreasing neck strain.

If you’re someone who works primarily at a desk or computer and experience any of these symptoms, I recommend setting yourself a reminder every ½ hour to an hour to assess your posture and give your pec muscles some much needed love and stretching.

Morgan Hladiuk, RMT