The corner stretch is one of the best at getting a deep stretch of the chest and shoulders, which can help maintain good posture. Various other chest stretches are available, including ones that are easily performed while seated, such as in the office.

How Stretching the Chest May Reduce Neck Pain

The pectoralis major and minor muscles in the chest can become tight and contribute to the shoulders and head hunching forward, which stresses the cervical spine and causes neck muscles to work harder. By stretching out the chest muscles, the shoulders and head are more easily held further back and upright in good posture.

Keeping the chest muscles stretched out may also assist in maintaining good posture while performing other stretches and exercises. Some recommendations are for stretching out the chest before performing other neck exercises.


Step-by-Step Guide to Perform Corner Stretch

The corner stretch can be performed as follows:

  1. Face the corner of a room.
  2. Position feet together, about 2 feet away from the corner.
  3. Place a forearm on each wall with the elbows slightly below shoulder height.
  4. Lean forward until a good stretch is felt across the chest and shoulders. If any pain is felt, the stretch can be reduced or stopped altogether.
  5. Hold the stretch 30 to 60 seconds.

If a corner is not available, another option is to perform this stretch in a doorway by placing the forearms on the door jambs (sides of the door frame). This stretch can be performed 3 to 5 times throughout the day.

Alternate Ways to Stretch the Chest While Seated

Sometimes a room corner or doorway is not readily available or convenient, such as while at the office or outside on a worksite. A few alternate ways to stretch the chest while standing or sitting include:

  • Chest stretch with hands behind head. Raise the arms and place the hands behind the head, bringing the elbows backward as far as they can comfortably go.
  • Chest stretch with arms behind back. Reach behind the back with both hands and try to hold each elbow (or forearm if that is more comfortable). Focus on keeping the spine straight and squeeze the shoulder blades to open up the chest.

View Slideshow: 4 Easy Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Pain


Same as the corner stretch, these stretches can be held 30 to 60 seconds. Having the ability to stretch the chest while seated or standing, regardless of whether a corner or doorway is available, can help in performing the stretch 3 to 5 times throughout the day.

Dr. Zinovy Meyler is a physiatrist with over a decade of experience specializing in the non-surgical care of spine, muscle, and chronic pain conditions. He is the Co-Director of the Interventional Spine Program at the Princeton Spine and Joint Center.