One of the more common complaints in clinic is people feeling tight and 'stiff & sore' thorough their neck and shoulders. A lot of the time these are also people who have desk jobs and spend a lot of their day in front of a computer. Even more to the point, these are also people who acknowledge that they do not stretch at work, and sometimes not at all! I used to be an office worker in the State Public Service when I was a young man, and even then it was widely known and advocated that administrative/office workers take a 'Stretch Break' frequently through the day to help them avoid neck/shoulder complaints. People don't think twice about having a cigarette break or grabbing a coffee from the Tea Room multiple times through the day, so why not take a Stretch Break to help yourself feel better?
This week's stretch will stretch just about every muscle through the chest and anterior shoulder, and is a very good general/complex stretch to start with if you haven't been stretching regularly. The focus muscles for this stretch are the Pectoralis Major and Minor (chest muscles), and the Anterior Deltoid (front shoulder muscle). It will also deliver a stretch to your Serratus Anterior and Teres muscles (scapular stabiliser muscles). Like most other stretches I highlight on here, it will only take a few minutes to do, and if you do it at least 3-4 times through out your day you will really feel the difference.
Stand about arms length away from, and facing a wall - feet about shoulder width apart to give you a stable base. Place your hands (both of them) on the wall slightly higer and wider than your shoulders - palms flat against the wall with your fingers pointing up to the ceiling. Bend forward from the waist to take up the slack in your chest and shoulders, and look at the floor to reduce/remove stress from your neck and help the stretch hit the target muscles.
NOTE: You could do this stretch just as easily and effectively in a door way, just make sure that the width of the door way doesn't spread your hands and arms too widely. You want to have enough space to bend forwards between your arms, but if your arms are too wide it can lead to possible injury in the shoulders, elbows, or wrists.
Take a deep breath in, then as you exhale gently increase the bend at your waist to push your chest and shoulders to the floor. Tension will be felt from the front of the chest through the front of your shoulder, and possibly into the elbow depending on your individual positioning/technique.
Hold this position for 15-20 seconds, and don't hold your breath, then gently release the stretch by returning to the starting position.
Try to keep your arms straight with your fingers pointing up. Turning your hands to face outwards can alter the directional forces through your arms while stretching, and this could lead to possible injury.
Always remember to relax into your stretches - don't fight against the stretch (it may cause more harm than good), and always do each stretch 3 times, at least twice each day.
Taken from "The Anatomy of Stretching" by B. Walker - pp55.