A Better Way to 'Stretch' Your Pecs



The way to stretch the pecs statically is pretty straightforward. You can simply perform a door stretch.

However, static stretching doesn't always make lasting change. When stretching the pecs, you likely want to keep the range of motion you are gaining.

With that in mind, there's a 'better way to stretch'. And that 'better way' isn't necessarily the stretch itself, but rather a way to address multiple aspects of the muscle.

Specifically, we want to do some soft tissue work on the pecs, a stretch with reps, and then some loaded movement.

This way we get the muscle tension to decrease with the soft tissue work, we put the muscle under tension and longer lengths with the stretch, and we train the overall range of motion with some loaded movement.

The Routine

The routine demonstrated in the video is written to be performed for 8-10 minutes, working through the following:
  • 20-30" roll out your pecs with a lacrosse ball or tennis ball
  • We are doing this to decrease muscle tension, not 'break' anything down, so the amount of pressure does not need to be extreme
  • 10 reps active pec stretch
  • We are doing this as a way to do an active, unloaded stretch of the pecs
  • 5-10 reps either dumbbell fly or deficit push up
Here we want to do either a dumbbell fly or deficit push up. I understand some gyms just aren't going to do flys and that is fine, but if I had a choice given what I am trying to accomplish, I would do the fly. I want to really focus on the negative aspect of the rep and use a light weight. You should NOT do this heavy or if there is pain and the deficit push up should be limited to only athletes who have experience doing push ups and bench press and have the requisite strength to control this motion

Other Considerations

Sometimes stretching the pecs is actually painful for people and this creates an issue. If you blame tight pecs for your shoulder pain and then perform pec stretches to address the tight pecs, but that stretching causes shoulder pain, what do you do?

Working on just the soft tissue might be the right decision in this case. You have to consider that stretching the pecs does require a certain amount of stress to the shoulder joint. If that stress isn't tolerated (meaning there is pain) then stretching the pecs isn't a good option in that case.

Stretching should always be pain free with the primary feeling being a stretch in the muscle. If you feel it in your shoulder joint, you need to modify the stretch somehow (either by changing your arm position or choosing a different stretch) and focus on the pain free things you can do, like rolling with a lacrosse or tennis ball.

When Should I Do This?

Since this is an overall stretch routine, it's best performed after a workout or during a non-weight training session. This is not designed to be a warm up or prep for a workout.

This is a good routine to perform after a workout when you aren't lifting heavy things anytime soon. To roll out, passively stretch, and then actively stretch under load is a lot of work and likely isn't a helpful way to prepare for heavy, intense lifts.

Keep this one available for your movement days, your recovery days, or the mobility work you, but not as warm up.

via Dr. Ryan DeBell - The Movement Fix

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