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 these 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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Bad Posture and Chest Pain
Bad posture can lead to chest pain. 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 involves having your shoulders underneath the ears and shoulder blades slightly engaged to avoid rounding the shoulders. Perform stretches and strengthening exercises to help correct bad posture and chest pain.
1. Use the Corner
The corner chest stretch alleviates tension in chest muscles causing rounded shoulders and slumping. Do this stretch standing up tall in a corner 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 wall. 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.
2. 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.
3. Hold It Up
Plank exercises target the deep abdominal muscles to cinch in your belly for improved posture overall. Toned abs will decrease the 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.
4. Stretch Those Hamstrings
Tight hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thighs, can lead to a posterior pelvic tilt in which the pelvis rotates backward. 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.