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19 Chest Stretches to Loosen Your Tight Muscles

When tight upper body muscles are wearing you down, chest stretches are available to come to the rescue. 

Whether your chest muscles are tight from the bench press at the gym, or from poor sitting posture that keeps your chest muscles in a perpetually shortened position - stretches for chest muscles will not only feel good, it’ll help ensure your shoulders and back stay healthy long-term.

What are Chest Stretches? 

Chest stretches are static or dynamic movements that help loosen up tight muscles, and supplementally enhance mobility through secondary muscle groups, such as the shoulder blades and back.

Like tricep stretches and bicep stretches, the intention of chest stretches is to facilitate movement through your upper body without restriction. 

Benefits of Stretching Your Chest

Sitting at a computer all day can cause postural imbalances that may include rounded shoulders, neck stiffness, and tight chest muscles. 

As a result, there are numerous benefits of stretching your chest. Besides improving posture and reducing tightness, there are functional benefits such as making it easier to raise your arms overhead. 

Additionally, an open chest can also promote healthy breathing techniques. Not only are breathing techniques an often overlooked aspect of movement and posture, but when combining proper breathing with holding a stretch, you can reduce stress and increase mental clarity.

19 Best Stretches for Tight Chest Muscles

Unsure how to stretch your chest? Check out these 19 best stretches for tight chest muscles.

19. Chest Stretch With Resistance Band

The chest stretch with resistance band utilizes bilateral shoulder retraction in order to enable the chest to loosen up. 

How to Do

  1. Start standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding each end of the resistance band with each hand.
  2. Now, move the band upward, through the chest and into a V-shape overhead
  3. Once overhead, maintain the V-Shape and move your arms behind your head and pass through your spine to finish with your arms at waist level, still holding grip on the resistance band. 
  4. Then, return to the starting point and repeat.

18. Extended Child’s Pose on Fingertips

Traditional child’s pose is a great full body stretch. But if you want to further target the chest, performing extended child’s pose on fingertips can be more beneficial. 

How to Do

  1. Start on all 4s with your hands and knees shoulder width apart.
  2. When you’re ready, start to extend your hands forward, but coming up on to your fingertips. 
  3. Once you start to feel a stretch in the chest, shoulders, and back, sit your hips back on to your heels and hold.

17. Pec Release

To complement the stretching techniques, loosening up any knots or tension in the fascia is helpful, especially if dealing with chest pain.. WIth his pec release, you’ll need a Yoga Strong Roller.

How to Do

  1. With your Roller at your side, lie face down on the ground
  2. Rolling on to one side, grab your Roller and place it under your right chest muscle
  3. Then, extend your right arm and let your body sink into the Roller, so you are able to feel the tension in your pec muscle. 
  4. If you want more, you can roll to find any additional tender spots in your chest.
  5. Remember, breathe and hold through the tension.

16. Floor Angels

When performing Floor Angels, correct form is key, as you may have a tendency to compensate into your lower back. Also, having adequate range of motion in your lat muscles is important. If you feel like you don’t have an adequate range of motion, try incorporating some lat stretches in as a warmup.

How to Do 

  1. Start lying on the floor with your knees bent, your lower back pressed firmly on the ground and your arms bent at your sides in an L shape, with the palms facing up.
  2. Keeping your wrists and elbows connected to the ground, start to extend your arms and straighten from the elbows. 
  3. If you reach your limit, try not to lift your lower back off the ground.

15. Stability Ball Chest Stretch

Using a stability ball can enhance your chest stretches as well. Even though this is more of a passive stretch, it is still one of the best chest stretches.

How to Do

  1. Start by sitting upright on a stability ball.
  2. To begin, go ahead and roll down the ball, so your butt is no longer on the ball and in a bridge position, and your head is resting on the ball.
  3. Then, extend your arms to the side, letting the chest open up. 
  4. Next, you can choose to stay in this spot if you feel enough of the stretch, or you can add more by rolling up the stability ball so your mid-back is on the ball and now your head and neck is in extension. 

14. Behind the Back Elbow Grip Stretch

The behind the back elbow grip stretch uses internal rotation at the shoulder to target the upper chest. 

How to Do

  1. You can be seated or standing, let your arms hang by your sides with your shoulders relaxed.
  2. To start, lightly squeeze your shoulder blades, while you bring your arms behind your back, grabbing each elbow with your opposite hand. 
  3. Breathe and hold. 

13. Lying Pectoral Stretch

In yoga, the lying pectoral stretch is often included in many classes because it is one of the better chest opening stretches.

How to Do

  1. Begin by lying down on your mat, facing down and legs straight. Place both arms out to the side, forming a T shape.
  2. Next,  with a firm grip on the ground, place your left hand next to your chest while still lying face down.
  3. Using your left hand, push the left shoulder off the ground while keeping your right shoulder on the ground. 
  4. To feel a bigger stretch, slightly rotate your head, neck and spine to the left as you push with your left hand.
  5. Breathe and hold, then switch sides.

12. Bow Pose

Unlike other chest stretches, Bow pose uses your legs and full body as part of the stretch. In addition, Bow uses shoulder extension to increase range of motion.

How to Do

  1. Lay on your belly with your legs long and your arms laying by your sides. 
  2. Bend your knees to bring your heels towards your bum. Begin to lift your shoulders and chest off the mat to arch the upper back. 
  3. Reach your hands back to grab the tops of your feet. Kick your feet into your hands to lift your chest higher off the ground, extending your knees and thighs up as well. 
  4. Hold for 5 breaths.

11. Chest Opener

Chest Openers are great because they’re simple to perform at any time of day, and anywhere. 

How to Do

  1. Start by standing up right with your arms at your side.
  2. On an inhale, raise your arms to your side with the palms facing outward.
  3. As you raise your arms up, squeeze your shoulder blades and lean back, extending out the spine. You can look up towards the sky to increase the stretch. 
  4. Breathe, hold, and repeat. 

10. Double Arm Stretch

Double Arm Stretch utilizes the same movement as the chest stretch with resistance band. But if you do not have a resistance band handy, you can still gain the benefits of the stretch. 

How to Do

  1. Start standing tall with your arms at your side
  2. When ready, bring your arms out in front of you at chest height, palms facing each other.
  3. With control, pull both arms backwards, retracting your shoulders and opening your chest until you feel a stretch in your chest.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat. 

9. Above the Head Chest Stretch

If you ever perform a chest workout, the above the head chest stretch is one of the most effective and dynamic chest stretches at counterbalancing any tightness from your workout.

How to Do

  1. Start standing up tall with your feet shoulder width apart 
  2. Then, raise your arms and interlace your fingers behind your head (with the elbows bent).
  3. With your fingers firmly locked, squeeze your shoulder blades and pull back your elbows. 
  4. Hold for 5 seconds, then rest and repeat. 

8. Wall Stretch

The wall stretch is an efficient stretch because you can hit both sides at the same time. Plus, there’s always a wall available to use! 

How to Do

  1. Stand perpendicularly next to a wall with a split stance and your right leg closest to the wall in the front. 
  2. Then, bring your right arm up to shoulder height at a 90 degree angle and place it against the wall.
  3. Making sure your right palm and forearm are making contact with the wall, start to turn your head and neck to the left, slightly rotating at the chest. 

7. Back Bend Stretch

When you open up your thoracic spine, you will also accomplish a dynamic chest stretch. And the back bend stretch is a great movement to target both the anterior and posterior upper body. 

How to Do

  1. Standing tall, raise your arms overhead. 
  2. Then, start to bend at the elbows to form 90 degree L shapes, known as “cactus arms.”
  3. At the same time, start to bump the hips forward and extend your spine.
  4. Next, look up and hold the back bend. 

6. Kneeling Chest Stretch

Kneeling chest stretch is a primary technique to stretch the abs and stretch chest, the extension in your back will have your chest feeling loose and open. 

How to Do

  1. Start in a double kneeling position, sitting your hips back toward your heels. 
  2. Then, lean back to place your hands flat on the floor behind you.
  3. Next, firmly press your hands into the ground and lift your sternum to open up the chest.
  4. Breathe and hold. 

5. Camel Pose

Camel pose is a similar movement to the kneeling chest stretch, but it requires more hip control, as you will not have stability from your hands being on the ground. 

How to Do

1) From all fours, come to stand on your knees with knees hips distance apart and shoulders stacked over hips and knees. 

  1. When ready, place your hands on your low back with fingertips facing  down. 
  2. For the next step, hug your elbows together. Core stays active with the tailbone pulling down towards the mat. 
  3. Moving on, begin to push your hips forward and lift your chest up and back with chin lifting off your chest to arch your back. 
  4. To advance, release your hands to your heels to extend deeper into the spine. 
  5. Hold for 5 breaths. Slowly lift back up to exit.

4. Reverse Chest Stretch

Reverse chest stretch puts your shoulder muscles into extension and integrates your triceps, making this one of the more effective chest and shoulder stretches. 

How to Do

  1. Begin sitting in a chair with your hands gripping each of the chair’s armrests. 
  2. While holding the firm grip of the armrest, lift your butt off the seat and walk your feet further in front of you.
  3. As your shoulders extend and your elbows straighten, keep holding tension in the shoulder blades and drop your hips a little lower to increase the stretch. 

3. Doorway Pectoral Stretch

The doorway pectoral stretch is a personal favorite to hit the chest muscles, since you have the ability to intensify the stretch and reduce tension as needed. 

How to Do

  1. Start standing in the middle of a doorway
  2. Now, Bring both arms up to a 90 degree angle, and place your palms on the door frame. 
  3. Then, bring your right foot forward so you’re in a split stance.
  4. As you’re ready, start to lean forward towards your right leg until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. 
  5. Hold, repeat, and switch legs. 

2. Hands Behind the Back

Hands behind the back stretch is particularly effective at stretching both the biceps and the chest.

How to Do

  1. Standing or sitting, start by bringing your arms behind you and clasping your hands together.
  2. With your hands locked, engage your shoulder muscles and begin to raise your arms up higher until you reach your body’s limit. 
  3. Breathe, hold, and repeat. 

1. Corner Stretch

The corner stretch has similarities to the doorway pectoral stretch. WIth the use of gravity and your ability to control the intensity, the corner stretch can be advantageous to include in your routine.

How to Do

  1. Start standing facing the corner of a room between two walls 
  2. Raising your arms to 90 degree L-shapes, place each forearm and palm on each side of the wall. 
  3. Then, lean your body slightly down and forward towards the corner until you feel the stretch in your chest and back. 

Final Thoughts

You may not be aware, but you use your chest muscles pretty consistently during daily activities. That's why chest stretches are so important. As one of the largest muscles in your upper body, any movement that involves lifting, holding, squeezing or pushing uses your chest as a primary muscle group. 

So, don’t neglect it! Stretch!


Marturana Windel, Amy. “10 Great Stretches to Do After an Upper-Body Workout.” 19 Apr, 2018.