upper body stretches

Sitting on computers all day wreaks havoc on your neck and shoulders. Try these 21 upper body stretches to relieve stress and tension in the shoulders, chest, and neck.

Upper Body Stretches For The Neck

upper body stretches

Neck Rolls

How To:

  • Either seated or standing.
  • Drop the chin towards your chest.
  • Gently rotate the neck by bringing the ear towards the shoulder.
  • Gently roll the neck so that the ear meets the other shoulder.
  • Gently bring the neck around so that the skull meets the back.
  • Continue to bring it around until the ear meets the opposing shoulder.
  • Continue to gently bring the head around in a circular motion.

Neck PNF Stretch

Neck Stretches For Headaches

How To:

  • This is best performed seated on a chair although you can do this stretch standing it is just less intense.
  • Gently drop the right ear to the right shoulder.
  • The left-hand drops to the side of the chair and grips underneath the seat of the chair.
  • Holding the chair tightly you should feel some tension in the shoulder.
  • Gently bring the right hand to the left side of the head and gently apply some pressure towards the right side.
  • You should feel a stretch in the neck that follows all the way down to the shoulder.
  • Resist the tension on the head for five seconds.
  • Then relax into the stretch for 15 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Repeat on the back of the skull with the chin close to the chest. Stretching the back of the necks muscles.

Upper Body Stretches For The Chest

upper body stretches

Superficial Arm Line Stretch

How To:

  • You can perform this stretch standing or seated.
  • Pull the arms apart extend through your wrists and fingers.
  • Fully straighten through the elbows.
  • Take a gentle lateral movement through your head and your neck out towards the left side
  • Press your right palm out to the right side
  • Take 3 – 4 breaths here
  • Come back to the center move back into the other side.

Overhead Chest & Shoulder Opener

upper body stretches

V1 How To:

  • In a standing or seated position.
  • Interlace your fingers and place them above your head with your arms extended.
  • Make sure you don’t flare the ribs out.
  • Ensure they are knitted in towards the hips.
  • Open the chest.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

V2 How To:

upper body stretches
  • In a standing or seated position.
  • Interlace your fingers behind your back with your arms extended.
  • Make sure you don’t flare the ribs out.
  • Ensure they are knitted in towards the hips.
  • Open the chest.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Option to take this stretch in prayer pose.

V3 How To:

upper body stretches
  • In a standing or seated position.
  • Interlace your fingers in front of you and extend the arms.
  • Drop the head and neck.
  • Chin comes to chest.
  • Allow the shoulders and back to open.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Upper Body Stretches For The Shoulders

upper body stretches

Shoulder Rolls

upper body stretches

How To:

  • Standing or seated.
  • Rise the shoulders so that they come up towards your ears.
  • Draw the shoulders down towards your scapula.
  • Continuing to rotate through the front of the chest until you meet your starting point.
  • Continue to draw circles with your shoulders.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Then reverse the circles in the other direction so that the shoulders come down and around the chest moving back towards the scapula.

Shoulder Rotations

How To:

  • From a standing position bring your hands up towards the sky.
  • Gently rotate your arms in a circle just like the previous exercise.
  • Although this time ensure that your arms are fully extended.
  • Repeat ten times.
  • Then reverse the direction of your circles.

Assisted Shoulder Opener

upper body stretches

For this move, you will need either a band, strap, or you could even use a belt or broom.

How To:

  • Raise your arms above your head using your strap or apparatus.
  • Take your hands a little more than shoulder-width apart.
  • Rotate the arms backward so that it meets your lower back.
  • You may need to adjust your grip depending on how tight your chest and shoulders are.
  • Return to your starting position.
  • Repeat ten times.

Shoulder Stretch

upper body stretches

How To:

  • From a standing or seated position.
  • Extend the arm and raise it in front of you.
  • Using your free hand draw your arm across the body.
  • Make sure the your elbow and wrists stay in line with the shoulder.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Apply this stretch for three rounds.

Rack Shoulder Stretch.

upper body stretches

How To:

  • In a seated position hands move to the floor behind you.
  • Take your arms back as far as possible keeping the hands in line with the shoulders.
  • If you still can’t find a stretch you can bring your hips away from the body.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

Thread the needle

upper body stretches

How to:

  • Begin seated on your mat with your knees bent and your feet behind you.
  • Draw the body forward to the mat.
  • Extend the body away from the hips.
  • Essentially you are in a downward dog position, instead of being on your feet your on your knees and shins.
  • Inhale, sweep one hand up towards the sky.
  • Exhale bring the had down and through so that it is under the body.
  • Hold for 15 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Try for three rounds.

Posterior pec stretch

upper body stretches

How To:

  • This exercise requires you to have a wall or something solid that is the same height as you. Ie if you are out for a run you could use a pole or a tree.
  • Standing next to the wall extend your arm so that the arm is on the same plane as the shoulders and trapezius.
  • Flatten your palm so that your hand rests flat on the wall.
  • Gently turn away from the wall.
  • Keep the hand where it is on the wall.
  • The rotation will help you to open up the chest.
  • In the video her arm is at a right angle. This is an option although I find the straight arm more effective.

Partner Upper Body Stretches & Full Body Stretches

Straddle Stretches

upper body stretches

How To:

  • Starting seated facing your partner.
  • Straddle the legs wide.
  • One partner will have the heels on the other partners ankles.
  • Other partner simply sits in a straddle.
  • From here you interlace fingers and take turns drawing your weight so that one partner comes forward and the other leans back.
  • Repeat several times.
  • Releasing the hands.
  • One partner uses their legs to push the other partner deeper into their straddle.
  • Other partner repeats.
  • Repeat this several times.

Back Stretch

upper body stretches

How To:

  • The stretcher forms a child’s pose on the mat.
  • The stretchee places spine to spine to allow the chest to open fully supported by the stretcher.
  • To make this a duo stretch.
  • Partners sit back to back with their legs out straight.
  • One person folds forward working towards their toes.
  • The other partner follows in the same motion ending up in a spinal stretch.
  • It looks very similar to the image above although the base is in a forward fold.

Sidearm Stretch Assisted Stretch

upper body stretches
This image is side by side. You will be back to back.

How To:

  • Starting with your partner seated back to back.
  • One partner holds the wrist of the other.
  • Legs can be crossed or straight out in front of you. Whichever feels best.
  • Place one hand on the ground next to your bottom and create a side flexion.
  • Bring the upper arm over your head and try to get as much room as you can by reaching the arm up and over towards the other side of the body.
  • Both butt cheeks stay on the floor and the upper shoulder is over the lower shoulder.
  • You can hold your partner’s wrist to deepen their stretch.

Window Washers

How To Do It:

  • Back to back with your partner extend one leg and keep the other bent towards the groin.
  • Extend the same arm as leg and place your hand on your partner’s hand.
  • Perform a window washing motion.
  • Allow the body to follow the hand.
  • The torso will twist towards the hand.
  • Pause for 5 seconds at the end of the pose.
  • Repeat 10x

Chest Opener

upper body stretches

How To:

  • The person being stretched extends the right arm so that it becomes a vertical extension of the shoulder.
  • Elbow in line with shoulders, wrists in line with the elbow.
  • Fold at the hips.
  • Hands-on each other’s shoulders.
  • Depress the chest down to the floor.
  • This opens the chest.

Back & Chest Stretch

upper body stretches

How To:

  • Standing back to back with your partner.
  • Interlace your arms so that you join at the elbows.
  • As one partner folds forward the other follows in the same direction and folds backwards.
  • Then you switch positions.
  • This helps to open the chest, upper back, and hamstrings.

Assisted shoulder stretch

How To:

  • Laying on back knees up at 110 degree angle.
  • The stretchee lays with their back on your shins.
  • The stretchee to bring their arms out towards you.
  • Take the arms out a little bit wide and gently take their arms out towards you

Acro Friendly Shoulder Stretch

upper body stretches

How To:

  • To make this easier the base can be seated on a chair.
  • The flyer places their head between the legs and rests their shoulders on the bases thighs.
  • The flyers thighs are zipped together.
  • The base reaches around and grabs the flyer in the middle thigh.
  • The base leans back in the chair taking the flyer with you.
  • I promise you this is the best stretch ever!! You will love it.

So how did you find my upper body stretches? I bet your shoulders are feeling better. If you are looking for upper body stretches to increase your flexibility then you should read my interview with Laura Proud an expert contortionist and try her shoulder unlocking stretches.

Stay strong and limber,

Jadore Vanessa

Vanessa Barthelmes.

15 Easy Ways To Prevent Shoulder Pain.

4 Shoulder Posterior Stretches.

13 Best Neck Stretches.

upper body stretches
upper body stretches

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