With everyone sitting in a forward posture where your shoulders are rolled forward, the upper back is curved in a flexed position and you have a forward head posture, it is very common to have a tight upper back, chest and neck. Due to the chronic pressure you are placing on your skeleton sitting in a forward posture, a lot of strain is placed on the muscles of the upper back, chest and neck. This, in turn, can eventually develop into neurological symptoms like tingling and numbness in the arms and hands.
To avoid this from happening, you can give this simple exercise a try every day to open up your chest and correct your posture.
The Anatomy Basics
To keep things simple, but understandable, there is a line of nerves and other major stuctures like blood vessels that run under a few bones, along with a few neck and chest muscles. Therefore, when these muscles become tight from improper posture, an injury like a fracture to the clavicle, or with other musculoskeletal factors that can occur, those blood vessels and nerves can become compressed and cause symptoms into the head, neck, shoulder, arm and hand. This compression can occur in the neck, chest or even into the arm. This condition is called “Thoracic Outlet Symdrome,” as seen in the photo to the right.
How To Do The Exercise
This is a super simple exercise where you only need yourself and a wall.
- Stand with your back facing a wall – preferably a wall without pictures or shelves on it as you will be moving your arms up and down and you don’t want to bump into anything.
- Having your feet a few inches from the wall will be an easier position, whereas, standing with your feet up against the wall makes this exercise just a bit more challenging.
- Once you have your footing in place, be sure that your upper back and hips are leaning against the wall. Now place your arms at shoulder height with your elbows touching the wall. If your elbows cannot touch the wall, move your feet away from the wall slightly and try again. If you can now touch your elbows to the wall the next step is to externally rotate your shoulder by placing the back of your hands against the wall with your elbows at a 90 degree angle (as shown in the photo). If you are having trouble resting your hands against the wall, then you will be working at going into internal and external rotation of the shoulder for now until your arms can reach.
- Once you can have your elbows and hands rested against the wall you can move your arms up and extend them over your head all while keeping your elbows and hands against the wall. If you feel your hands or elbows lift, that is as far as you move your arm above your head, stop and go back down to the starting position and move through that range of motion adding a few inches each time you raise your arms up if you can.
- Do this 5-10 times and step away from the wall and feel how much more open your chest feels and how much taller you can stand. Magic.
- This exercise can be repeated multiple times a day.
Here is a video from my Instagram Account that you can reference for the full explanation of how to do this exercise correctly: