I didn't realize my chest muscles were tight until I tried this one stretch that opened them up

Could tight chest muscles be the source of your upper-body stiffness?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I often deal with tightness in my upper body, and I tend to put it down to a lack of mobility in my shoulders and back.

However, I recently discovered that tight, weak chest muscles can also contribute to bad posture and a lack of flexibility.

"When the chest is tight this means the muscles have shortened," explains personal trainer Pippa Sealey. "This generally makes the opposing muscles in the upper back weak and can lead to poor posture."

To combat this, I began researching exercises that can increase flexibility in the chest and I came across an old Instagram Reel from trainer and posture and movement specialist Candace Cabrera.

In the Reel, Cabrera shares a stretch that opens the muscles in the chest. I decided to try it on my lunch break, on a day when I was working from home, spending a lot of time hunched over my laptop.

Watch Candace Cabrera's Instagram Reel

A post shared by Candace Cabrera

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You don't need any equipment to complete this stretch and Cabrera recommends holding it on each side of the body for between five and seven breaths, so it's a quick and simple way to stretch out your chest muscles.

The exercise involves lying on your front while placing one hand on the floor under your shoulder and stretching the other arm out to the side in line with your shoulder. From there, you bend one leg and twist it to the other side of your body, trying to place your foot flat on the floor.

Fitness writer Alice Porter performing chest stretch on bed

(Image credit: Alice Porter)

I noticed a tightness in my chest during the move, which I wouldn’t normally pick up on as I don’t usually do stretches that target this area. This exercise also stretched the muscles in my shoulders and back, so it's a good all-rounder for increasing flexibility in the upper body.

After holding the exercise for seven breaths on each side, I went back to work feeling more relaxed. I noticed that I was sitting up straighter too, as I was more aware of my posture after stretching.

This is a move I'll be adding to my regular mobility routine so that I can try to improve my flexibility over time and reduce stiffness in my upper body.

If you're looking for a more comprehensive routine to help with aches and pains, have a go at these yoga stretches for beginners, or try these hip-strengthening exercises, to combat the effects of sitting down all day.

Need some cushioning for your stretching routine? Our guide to the best yoga mats can help

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.