Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Bullies and the Victims – Pecs vs. Traps

Ever wonder why your shoulders feel so achy and tense? Several reasons are probably at play, with two likely culprits being less-than-perfect posture (shoulders rounded forward, slumped posture) and tight pectoral muscles. Nearly every client that walks through my door has tight shoulders AND tight pecs! The shoulder muscles are the “victims” while the pectoral muscles are the “bullies”. The shoulders won't loosen up until you also loosen the chest muscles. A great way to get your shoulders to loosen up a bit is to do this chest stretch several times a day:

  • Stand in a doorway facing perpendicular to wall. Place inside of bent arm on surface of wall. Position bent elbow at shoulder height.
  • Turn body away from positioned arm. Hold stretch. Repeat with opposite arm. Upper chest becomes more stretched with elbow lower. Lower chest and pectoralis minor become more stretched with elbow higher.

Another very effective way to slowly change posture is to gain some body awareness. Several times a day (the more the better!) while you are at work, on the couch, driving, etc, check in with your body and see where your shoulders are at. Take a deep breath or two and let your shoulders drop down and back into a more relaxed posture. We all have a tendency to pull our shoulders up towards our ears when we are stressed or tired.

A combination of regular postural work, stretching, exercise (especially core strengthening work) and massage can result in a significant reduction in pain and tension in your body! Give it a try!

Written by Allyson Madera
Licensed Massage Practitioner, Seattle Athletic Club Northgate
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