If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: Stretching plays a critical role in any fitness routine. And while most of us know how important it is to give our legs a lot of post-workout love (because, ya know, that second-day soreness can making walking really uncomfortable), there’s often one under-stretched body part that could use some TLC, too: your chest. Chest stretches are important for not only keeping your muscles loose, but also for undoing the damage that not-so-perfect posture can bring about, so consider this your reminder to make them a regular part of your routine.
Stretching, in general, helps you maintain flexibility and strength throughout your body.
Whether you’re targeting your upper body in a given workout or not, chest stretches are a must-do because they help to loosen up postural issues that come from sitting at a desk all day. “When the chest and shoulder muscles become tight from sitting or standing for long periods of time with poor posture or from an intense workout session, these muscles will relax in a ‘shortened’ position, meaning the shoulders will round forward into a slouching or slumped position,” says Topel
To help keep your chest limber, Topel and New York-based physical therapist Shawn Kato, share their favorite chest stretches, below. And one more pro tip: When you’re just starting out with a chest stretching routine, Topel suggests skipping out on any weighted move, since your risk of injury dramatically increases when you attempt to stretch a muscle that is utilizing weighted tension. The good news? These five weight-free moves offer A-plus relief to chest stretchers of any level.