Effective stretching exercises: How to increase your upper body flexibility

Conference calls in the kitchen, emails on the couch, documents on the floor – sound familiar? Not everyone has the right set up to work from home and, without ergonomic office chairs, our bodies may suffer.

Without good support our necks become stiff, our backs tense and our arm and shoulder movement becomes limited. Working from home also means our movement decreases, which means we feel pain more intensely. So what can we do to change this?

Train your flexibility and mobility on a regular basis

Regular stretching is an extremely effective way to combat pain and should be a crucial part of your fitness routine. It not only improves your flexibility, but helps you achieve better posture and muscle function. It also reduces the risk of injury and soreness after exercise. For example, did you know that increased flexibility expands your range of motion, allowing you to accelerate your performance?

Our body is like a rubber band and every movement increases elasticity. When we stretch, we stabilise one muscle and pull the other, which creates an anchor point for connective tissue while simultaneously releasing energy. When you’re flexible you’ll be able to move faster and more efficiently.

Routine is key

If you haven’t done mobility work before, try the following upper body stretch exercises. Performed once a week, they’ll help you maintain your current flexibility, and performed two to three times a week, they’ll improve your flexibility. You can try these exercises at home before, during or after work, or post-workout for an effective cool down.

Exercise 1

This exercise can be done while standing or sitting and will improve flexibility in the shoulders, arms and broad back muscles.

How it works:

  1. Stand in a shoulder width position. 
  2. Stretch your right arm upwards and bend your forearm behind your head. 
  3. With your left arm, gently pull the elbow of your right arm toward your head.
  4. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and then switch sides. You can increase the intensity of the exercise by pulling the arm closer.

Exercise 2

This stretch can be done standing or sitting. While this exercise addresses the mobility of your shoulder and arms, the focus here is on your shoulder muscles.

How it works:

  1. Stand in an upright position, about hip width apart. 
  2. Raise your right arm until it’s at shoulder level. 
  3. You can rest your forearm on your left shoulder to make the exercise easier. However, be careful not to lift your shoulders with it.  
  4. The left hand is placed on the elbow of the right arm. Now pull the arm slightly back to the left – you should feel the stretch in the right shoulder. 
  5. Hold the position for about 20 seconds and perform the exercise on the opposite side.

Exercise 3

This exercise is best performed against a wall or with a partner. It stretches the shoulder muscles as well as the large pectoral muscle.

How it works:

  1. Stand sideways against the wall.
  2. Then stretch your right arm or place it at a 90 degree angle with your forearm against the wall.
  3. The upper arm forms a straight line with the shoulder axis. Now turn to the left until you feel a stretch in the chest muscles. 
  4. For the stretch to be effective it should be held for about 20 seconds.

Incorporate your newfound knowledge into your everyday life – whether at work or before or after sports, your muscles will thank you. With every workout, do something for your flexibility and enjoy a  healthy posture, increased fitness, easier movement and better performance. Want to learn more? Get inspired with our wide range of mobility and stretching workouts.


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