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Posture Exercises for Chest Pain

author image Jennifer Andrews
Jennifer Andrews specializes in writing about health, wellness and nutrition. Andrews has a Master of Science in physical therapy from the University of Alberta as well as a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. She teaches yoga and pilates and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
Posture Exercises for Chest Pain
A man with chest pain, gripping his chest. Photo Credit: Peter Dazeley/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Chest pain can be a warning signal for something serious such as a heart condition or something less concerning like poor posture. Poor posture tightens chest muscles contributing to muscular pains. Reduce or eliminate chest pain with postural exercises designed to correct muscular imbalances with stretching and strengthening. Do exercises daily or at least three to four times per week as part of an overall fitness regimen. Always consult with a physician first to rule out any serious medical conditions causing chest pain.

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Perfect Your Posture

Poor posture occurs when you slouch or slump, leading to a rounded back, shoulders, weak abdominals and gluteal muscles. Chest muscles get tight in this position while muscles of the back become lengthened and weak. Correcting these muscular imbalances by stretching tight chest muscles and strengthening opposing back muscles can help bring you back into an upright posture and standing tall. Furthermore, engaging the core abdominals and gluteals will improve overall stance and aid in injury prevention. Good posture should involve having your shoulders underneath the ears and shoulder blades slightly engaged to avoid rounding the shoulders.

Use The Door

A doorway chest stretch alleviates tension in chest muscles causing rounded shoulders and slumping. Do this stretch standing up tall in a doorway with shoulders relaxed and underneath the ears. Place feet shoulder-width apart with your right foot slightly forward of your left. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and place each forearm and wrist on each side of the doorway. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the shoulders and stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs position and repeat with the left foot slightly in front.

Retract The Shoulder Blades

The scapulas, or shoulder blades, often protract or rotate forward with poor posture. Strengthen back muscles, rhomboids, trapezius and lats to help bring the shoulders back into a neutral position and decrease tension on chest musculature. Do scapular retraction exercises by standing tall with shoulders under the ears. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees with palms facing inwards. Gently squeeze the shoulder blades together as you move your elbows straight back as though they were sliding on a pane of glass. Avoid hiking up the shoulders. Repeat 10 times for a total of three sets.

Hold It Up

Plank exercises target the deep abdominal muscles to cinch in your belly for improved posture overall. Toned abs will decrease stress placed on the lower and upper back that contributes to a forward lean, rounded shoulders and a tight chest. Do this exercise by lying on the floor face-down. Lift yourself up on your toes and forearms with elbows underneath your shoulders. Contract your abs to maintain a straight line from head to toe and hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Repeat three times. If you have difficulty on your toes or feel your chest caving in, switch to resting on your knees and progress as the exercise gets easier.

Stretch Those Hammys

Tight hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thighs, can lead to a posterior pelvic tilt in which the pelvis rotates backwards. This decreases the natural spinal curvature leading to excessive rounding of the upper back and increased tension on the pectoral muscles. Release tight hamstrings with a half-sitting stretch. Sit on a firm bed or bench with your left leg straight out in front of you and the right leg hanging off the edge so your foot is flat on the floor. Keep your back straight as you bend forward from the hips to reach your hand towards your toes. Avoid rounding the back or pushing into pain. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds before switching to repeat on the right leg.

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