Pec Stretch

written by
Joel Runyon
last updated
September 25, 2021

When you think about working out the pec muscle, you probably think of pressing massive weight on a bench  or floor press or the good old standard push-up. The chest muscles are definitely an area that many people try to work out in the gym, but many people might not know much more about these muscles that make up the chest area. Keep reading if you want to learn more about the pec muscles and ways that you can stretch and care for it. 

What are the Pec Muscles? 

When we talk about the pec muscle, we are actually referring to two separate muscles: the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. These can be found on each side of the sternum. The pec muscles essentially connect the front side of the chest with the arm and shouler bones. 

You can find the pectoralis major muscle starting at the clavicle, running across the top of the chest, and attaching at the humerus. This specific muscles helps your arm perform adduction and forward rotation. 

The pectoralis minor muscle can be found beneath the pec major. It starts at the ribs and attaches to the shoulder blade. It helps with the movement of the shoulder forward and down. 

Both of these muscles are commonly referred to as the “pecs.” 

Pec Muscle Issues

If you hit arm day at the gym quite frequently, you’ve probably experienced some tightness in your pec region. But that is definitely not the only reason you may experience tight pecs. If you have a job that requires a lot of typing or sitting at the computer, this can also cause tightness because of the rounded shoulder position. When the pec muscles are tight, it can pull the shoulders forward into a rounded position. This position is referred to as kyphosis or a “hunch back” position. 

Some common symptoms of tight pec muscles include reduced range of motion in the shoulders and arms, pain in the chest area, or the inability to hold good posture. If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be a smart move to incorporate a variety of chest stretches into your daily routine. 

It is also possible to have an injury occur in the pec muscles. This could show up as a strain or a tear to the muscles. If you feel a sharp burning or stabbing pain in the chest region, numbness in the arms or fingers, swelling in the area, muscle spasms, or difficulty breathing, chances are that an injury has occurred. In this case, it is best to seek help from your personal healthcare professional to be safe. 

The Pec Stretch Explained

If you’re experiencing tightness in the pectoralis muscle region, this simple pec stretch will help alleviate it, when done consistently. And the best news is that this stretch really could not be any easier. 

To perform this stretch all you need is a pole, squat rack, door frame, or even a wall. Place your right hand on the surface that you’re using. Once there, rotate your chest away from your hand. You should feel a stretch in the pec muscle. Hold this position for your desired amount of time (we suggest at least 30 seconds). Then, switch arms and complete the same stretch on the opposite side. 

It may feel tempting to really crank into this stretch. But if this is your first time performing it, please take it slow. Depedningon your personal range of motion, this could feel really intense. The last thing you want to do is strain the muscle. 

As you rotate through the stretch, move slowly and breathe deeply. If you’re especially tight, it may feel quite intense, but it should never feel painful. If you do feel pain while holding the stretch, come out of the position immediately. We always recommend using your breath as a gauge. You want to be able to breathe deeply and in control throughout the entire position. If at any point, you realize that you cannot take nice, deep breaths while holding the stretch, come out of it just a bit until you can find your breath again. 

Pec Stretch Benefits

Obviously, the main benefit of performing a pec stretch is that you can relieve the tightness that affects the area. This can also lead to increased blood circulation in these muscles and an increased range of motion. Not to mention, you might even be able to breathe a little easier as tight pec muscles can sometimes hinder this. 

Stretching this area can also lead to a lengthening of the muscles which helps you hold better posture throughout the day. If the tight muscles had led to any shoulder or back pain, stretching this area can also help alleviate this pain. It really is a win-win no matter how you look at it. 

pec stretch demo using rack

Standing a few feet in front of a pole or squat rack, reach back with your right hand and grab it. Rotate your chest so it’s facing forward and you’ll feel a stretch in your pec. Hold this for the remainder of the movement.

written by
Joel Runyon

Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE and the founder of MoveWell. Joel founded MoveWell after sustaining an injury while running an ultra marathon on every continent. Joel is writes about mobility, pain management and health and wellness overall.

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