Use This Mobility Move to Close the Book On a Tight Upper Body

·2 min read

Life doesn't always put us in comfortable positions. Whether you wind up seated at a desk, behind the wheel of your car, or just on your couch, common postures aren't ideal for the upper body, causing aches and pains to the chest, shoulders, and back. Thankfully, there is relief. You may finally be able to close the book on shoulder stiffness and tight pecs with this exceptional mobility move from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S.

This thoracic rotational exercise is a great stretch most people can benefit from, especially desk jockeys who sit and sit (and sit), and normally don’t get up and moving as often as necessary—which is the perfect setup for muscle stiffness, posture issues, and potential injury. The move, in which you lie on one side then open your chest and shoulders up with the goal of placing your top wrist behind you on the floor, resembles the opening of the pages of a book, hence its name, the open book stretch.

The open book stretch is great for increasing thoracic rotation, but may not so easy to master right out of the gates, even more so if you suffer from tight muscles. Because it’s a challenging move for your chest, shoulders and even back muscles, you’re probably going to need some time—and plenty of patience—to begin to feel and see your range of motion increase. So don’t get frustrated if your hand doesn’t reach the floor—each time you stretch is providing plenty of upper body benefits.

How to Do the Open Book Stretch

●Start by lying on the ground, placing your hips and knees at about a 90-degree angle. Squeeze a yoga block (or similar item) between your knees for support. The additional squeeze will help fire up your lower spine and hips, allowing you to get a stronger thoracic twist from your chest and shoulder area.

●Squeeze your knees and drive your hip into the ground, then begin reaching your arm as far behind you as possible—again, as if you’re opening up the pages of a book.

●Twist with the intention of touching your wrist to the ground behind you (although you may not reach that distance at first). However, go as far as possible as your chest continues opening and stretching before returning to 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 anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds.

The more you practice the Open Book Stretch, the more you’ll continue getting your hand closer to reaching the floor as you keep increasing your upper body’s range of motion. Soon you’ll be feeling looser, more mobile, and hopefully more productive and pain free.

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