The chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor – see diagram below) are among the most loaded muscle groups in the human body. Unlike some of the muscles in our legs which experience different levels of active intensity (anything from walking to swimming to weighted squats), the chest is typically called on to provide a greater level of force – pulling movements (eg lifting shopping bags, or children), and pushing movements (eg furniture, or a lawn mower). Over time the chest can become tense and contracted which can create rounding of the shoulders, poor posture, and stress on the back. Mobilising the chest can assist in alleviating these issues and is quite a simple task to perform.
Like most of our mobility suggestions, the pectoral release requires a minimum of equipment:
- A trigger point ball (a lacrosse ball, cricket ball, or baseball will also work fine)
- A flat wall or floor
Finding the position
To summarise the position, we are basically going to lay on top of the ball until we find a sore spot:
- Lay the trigger ball on the ground (somewhere flat so it doesn’t roll away). If you are going to use a wall instead, you will need to wedge the ball between the wall and your chest.
- Lay yourself down on the ground and position your chest above the ball and lower yourself down so that the trigger ball is pressing against your chest on one side. If you are using a wall, you will already be in this position.
- Manoeuvre yourself around slightly until the trigger ball finds a tight spot within your chest muscle group. Stay in this position for a minute or two and gently rock from side to side, front to back to allow the trigger ball to roll around the tight area.
- Try to investigate the full surface of your chest muscles – under the collar bone, below the nipple, down the inside near your sternum, and down the outside near your arm.
- To maximise the intensity, keep your arm parallel to the floor or wall and raise above your head and lower back down to hip height. Doing this allows the trigger ball to work on the tight area whilst actively stretching the muscles.
Refer to the demo video below for an example of how the movement works on the floor.
Working on chest mobility can be one of the most enabling routines we can do. With a lot of us now spending considerable time hunched over a desk or keyboard, keeping our chest mobile will go along way towards ensuring posture stays strong and the back stays healthy.