Use the open book stretch to loosen your stiff, sore upper body
Life doesn’t always put us in comfortable positions. Whether you find yourself sitting at a desk, driving your car, or just lying on your couch, common postures aren’t great for your upper body, causing chest, shoulder, and back pain. Fortunately, there is relief. You might finally be able to close the book on stiff shoulders and tight pecs with this exceptional mobility move from men’s health Director of Fitness Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS
This chest rotation exercise is a great stretch that most people can benefit from, especially desk jockeys who sit and sit (and sit), and normally don’t get up and move as often. than needed, which is the perfect setup for muscle stiffness, posture issues and potential injury. The movement, in which you lie on one side and then open your chest and shoulders with the aim of placing your upper wrist behind you on the floor, resembles opening the pages of a book, hence the name, stretching open book.
The open-book stretch is great for increasing chest rotation, but may not be so easy to master right off the bat, especially if you suffer from tight muscles. Because it’s a tough move for your chest, shoulders, and even your back muscles, you’ll likely need time and a lot of patience to start feeling and seeing your range of motion increase. So don’t get frustrated if your hand doesn’t reach the floor – every time you stretch, you reap a host of upper body benefits.
How to Do the Open Book Stretch
●Start by lying on the floor, placing your hips and knees at about a 90 degree angle. Clamp a yoga block (or similar object) between your knees for support. The added compression will help stimulate your lower spine and hips, allowing you to achieve a stronger chest twist in your chest and shoulders.
● Squeeze your knees together and drive your hip into the floor, then begin to extend your arm as far behind you as you are opening the pages of a book.
● Turn with the intention of touching your wrist to the ground behind you (although you may not reach this distance at first). However, go as deep as you can as your chest continues to open and stretch before returning to the start.
● Go for another rep, again squeezing your chest and shoulders throughout the stretch.
●Start with about three to four sets on each side, working for 30 to 60 seconds.
The more you practice the open book stretch, the closer you will continue to bring your hand closer to the ground while increasing your upper body’s range of motion. Soon you will feel looser, more mobile, and hopefully more productive and pain-free.
Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle and Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.