"You may be surprised to know that tight chest muscles are often the culprit behind aching shoulder, upper back, and neck muscles. Writing e-mails, texting friends or driving to work, we spend most of the day in one position: seated with our shoulders slumped and our arms out front. With our body in this shape, our chest muscles are at their shortest, and over time they tighten to stay this way. In turn, when the chest muscles are shorter, the we tend to slouch even more—it's a vicious cycle. In response, the muscles in the upper back, shoulders, and neck compensate, becoming tired, sore, tense, and overstretched.
Want some proof in your own body? Take a moment to get up from your computer and find a doorway. With a 'cactus arm' (your upper arm parallel to the floor at shoulder height, and your elbow bent at 90 degrees so your finger tips point up toward the ceiling), press your palm and forearm against the door frame then shuffle forward until you feel a stretch across the front of the shoulder and chest. Hold this for 20-30 seconds. When you release the stretch, notice the relief you feel in your upper back, shoulders, and neck. Next time you feel like stretching your upper back at work, try this instead!
For lasting results, become a regular at my 8:15pm Mellow Flow classes on Monday and Thursday evenings, in which we take the time to stretch deeply into the chest muscles and to strengthen the upper back muscles that support healthy posture. As you bring the body back into balance, you'll put the kibosh on that vicious cycle of slumping shoulders and shortening chest muscles, you'll notice yourself sitting taller, and you'll enjoy more ease around the shoulders, upper back and neck."