Many of us spend a great deal of time sitting, whether it be at work, driving, or at home. Over time we find that our body has more of a tendency to want to naturally slouch when seated.
Restrictions in the front of our trunk may be causing the soft tissue to shorten (i.e., compress). When this happens we have a tendency to slouch and it is difficult to maintain a more upright posture. With this position the head tends to come forward causing the upper back muscles to work harder to try and support the weight of the head. Many clients complain of headaches, upper back/neck tension, and chest tightness.
One of the myofascial self-treatment techniques that we recommend for our clients is using the foam roller to open up their chests, but for some this is too much due to the amount of tightness. So, we encourage you to start opening the front of your body on a pool noodle. Learning how to correctly open up and lengthen the chest is beneficial for most individuals. It is very important that you have your therapist guide you on whether this technique is beneficial for you and take you through the correct way to utilize this technique. Click here for a step by step guide on how to create length and open up your chest using a pool noodle.
Some important tips:
* Slowly enter in and out of the stretch
* Move slowly through the steps and making sure to STOP when you feel a slight change or stretch. This is where your restriction is. Take a moment to breathe into the stretch and wait until you feel the intensity of the stretch lighten, that is when the body released the restriction. Now you can again move slowly until you feel the next restriction and continue to repeat the same process.
* NEVER force. You should only feel a light to medium stretch.
* During any myofascial self-treatment technique you should feel the intensity increase when you find a restriction, then decrease when it releases, then increase when you find a restriction, and then decrease when it releases. The intensity should go up and down. If the intensity is more of a constant then you have pushed too far into the stretch and need to start over and lessen the intensity. When opening up the fascial system less is more.
* It should ALWAYS feel GOOD.
* When finished, gently roll off the side of the pool noodle.
* As your body creates more length and you notice less tightness progress to using the foam roller.
We all need length and opening in our chests, but make sure to check in with your therapist to make sure that the correct technique is being used. Happy chest opening!