ob can lead to many health problems, including joint swelling and muscle tightness. Chest opener exercises certainly can help you keep the soreness at bay, as well as increase the flexibility of your upper body. Rather than risking injury with more extreme poses such as Bow or Camel, start with some relatively easy restorative poses.
CHEST OPENER WITH FORWARD BEND
This Chest-Opening Forward Bend helps you open up all the muscles in your shoulders, as well as creating openness and space in your chest. It also works to open up the biceps and forearms—muscles we tend to forget about when we are stretching.
START: Stand with your feet hips-width distance apart. Interlace your hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together to stretch your chest. Keeping your legs straight, bend at the hips, tucking your chin and bringing your hands over your head.
FINISH: Relax the back of your neck, and if the stretch is too intense, release your hands, placing them on the backs of your thighs, and soften your knees. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and slowly roll up to standing.
EXTENDED TRIANGLE TWIST
This yoga-inspired static pose uses the foam roller and your core muscles to help with balance as you stretch the muscles in your lower and upper body. This stretch helps open the chest and activates the spine with the help of the internal and external obliques. It also lengthens and releases any muscle tension in your glutes and hamstrings.
START: Take a wide step forward with your left foot, keeping both feet flat on the floor. Hinge forward from your hips, and bring your chest parallel to the floor (soften your knees if needed), extending arms out overhead, palms pressed on top of the upright roller.
FINISH: Slowly rotate your torso to the left, reaching left arm overhead to the ceiling. Try to look up at your hand (if that strains your neck look straight ahead or down to the floor). Hold for 5 deep breaths and then reverse, repeating up to 3 times total on both sides.
Backbend is quite familiar if you are a passionate yogi. The fact is that all backbend poses not only stretch your back, but it also open your chest and shoulders. This backbend-inspired movement stretches the muscles in your abs, chest, and back while engaging your core muscles at the same time.
START: Stand with feet wider than hip width, knees slightly bent, arms extended overhead, palms facing in.
FINISH: Keeping your pelvis still, slowly start to reach your upper body and arms to the left, then overhead (extending your spine and looking up), and then to the right, tracing a full circle. Repeat 5 times to the left, then 5 times to the right.
SIDE-LYING CHEST OPENER
Don’t want to get off your bed, Side-Lying Chest Opener will give you the best stretch for your chest, shoulders, and also lower back. This exercise allows you to target each side of the chest separately and give special attention to the shoulders.
START: Lie on your side with your head supported and your knees drawn towards your chest. Your upper arm should be resting palm down on the floor in front of you.
FINISH: Open the arm so that it reaches and stretches behind you. You should turn your head to follow the movement of your hand. Allow the arm to relax in that extended position for a minimum of 3 seconds, and then release. Repeat the movement for the other side.
NOTES: Shorter limbs make for lighter work, so always start with the elbow bent and lengthen it to increase the difficulty of the exercise. Don’t forget to breathe! Try a breath in for step 2 and a breath out for step 3. Then a breath in to hold and a breath out to come back to the start position.
ROLLING COBRA CONTRACTION
This dynamic move combines the cobra with an abdominal knee tuck to help strengthen and stretch your abs and back.
START: Lie face down with your shins resting on top of the roller, hip-width apart. Bend your arms and place your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Extend your spine and press down with your arms, lifting your hips off the floor as you extend back. Open your chest, press your shoulders down, and look up.
FINISH: Brace your abs in tight, lift your hips up in line with your shoulders, and bend your knees in under your hips. Allow your legs to slide along the roller from your shins to the tops of your feet. Hold for 1 count, and then slowly roll legs back out and return to extended position. That’s one rep. Repeat 5 times in a row, slowly and with control.