Healthy Computing: Chest Stretch

As we keyboard and mouse we often round our shoulders and reach forward.
We may work like this for hours without ever stretching and lengthening
our muscles. Sustaining this posture day after day can result in
shortening the muscles of the chest, overusing the muscles of the upper
back and neck, and over-stretching ligaments, which can be quite painful.
Relax and loosen your muscles when you do a CHEST STRETCH.


A note of caution: if doing this stretch causes you pain, numbness or
tingling then, stop; you may need to seek medical advice.

Sit comfortably erect (neutral) in your chair with your back fully
supported. Place your feet shoulder width apart on the floor. Interlace
your fingers behind your neck with your palms touching the bottom of your
head and the top of your neck.

As you exhale, let your head drop down and curl forward while gently
pressing your back into the chair. As you inhale, return to a neutral
posture. Now, as you exhale reverse your posture by pulling your head and
elbows backward while slightly arching your backfeel a gentle stretch of
your chest. Make sure to use the chair back for support. Hold this
position for two or three deep abdominal breaths during which you allow
more stretch with each exhalation. Be gentle, not forceful.

On the next exhalation, curl and drop your head and elbows forward. Relax
while keeping your hands interlaced behind your head and neck.

Repeat this cycle three times.

Optional: reverse the breathing pattern and inhale as you move from
neutral (e.g., inhale when you curl forward and when you arch backward).

Repeat this or other movement practices many times during the day.

We thank Candy Frobish, OTR/CHT for her helpful suggestions with this tip.

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Written by Erik Peper PhD

Explore Wellness in 2021