Mike Benson has sent several Fitness Fixer inspiring stories. In response to reader requests, he made us a photo set showing, “The most common mistake in the best stretch – How to not get any stretch from the pectoral stretch.” I asked him to demonstrate this, because I see this mistake so often. People often “do” a stretch without “getting” a stretch.

Why is this stretch so good? Round-shouldered posture is a main contributor to neck and upper body pain and rotator cuff injury. Round-shouldered posture feels comfortable and natural when the front chest muscles are tight. A common mistake is to stretch the shoulder joint, which does not address this problem.

The purpose of the pectoral stretch is to lengthen chest muscles so that healthier positioning feels natural and comfortable. If you merely hold your elbow to the side, little lengthening can occur. Changing the position will get the purpose – lengthening anterior (front) muscles that go across the chest. One way is to use a wall to help you press your elbow back.

  • Turn your body and feet away from the wall.
  • Your elbow is behind you, no longer out to the side.
  • Raising the elbow higher or lower changes the stretch.
  • Experiment until you only feel a stretch in the front chest and no pain or pinching anywhere in the shoulder:
  • Keep shoulder down and relaxed
  • Do not make any pain anywhere. The idea is to make things healthier, not to strain, push, force, tighten, grunt, and call that a health promotion activity.
  • Understand the purpose first. The purpose of this stretch is to lengthen front chest muscles so that tightness does not pull you into feeling that round-shouldered position is the norm or that it is uncomfortable to straighten. Feel the stretch in the intended area.
  • Use a mirror to help you connect what the position looks like with what it feels like.
  • Use your brain.


Fix One Pain, Don’t Cause Another
What Does Stretching Do?
The Stretch You Need The Least

More to Stretch the Anterior Chest:

Stretching With a Friend – Partner Pectoral Stretch
Pectoral Stretch was first introduced in Fixing Upper Back and Neck Pain
Quick, Feel-Good Upper Back and Chest Stretch

Mike Benson’s Success Stories:

A Whole Big Fix
Fast Fitness – Core Hip & Body, Posture Strength & Balance 
Flasher Exercises Not Best for Shoulder Pain
Healthy Youth Parties – Fun Exercise, No Junk Food


See Dr. Bookspan’s Books. Get certified – DrBookspan.com/Academy.