Updated: Oct 14, 2020
One of the silent but deadly contributors to upper back pain/slouching is our PECTORALIS MAJOR, aka pecs. One of pectoralis major’s main jobs is to internally rotate our humerus bone, it also does flexion, extension, adduction and horizontal adduction. That is a lot of jobs for one muscle. Chest muscles can become short and tight because of weight training, lifestyle(slouching) and a lack of stretching. A desk job, poor posture, a shoulder injury, or the simple fact that we never perform activities that release the chest muscles can all lead to tight pecs. Most everything we do is with our arms in front of our body, like holding a baby, typing, cleaning, lifting. Not many actions do we have our arms behind our body in extension. You can still continue this actions with the arms in front, just make sure your shoulder is still aligned with your rib cage and not going forward with the arms.
If you suffer from upper back pain and have that hunched over type of posture most likely your pecs are very tight and in need of a release. We can use mental cues throughout the day to externally rotate our shoulders and open our chest to the world. But if your pecs are tight that can be easier said then done. The door frame stretch works wonders for the pecs! Start with your arms (or do one arm at a time) in a 90 degree angle at the elbow then lean in towards and past the opening in the door while your arms are still on the frame. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds, then move your arms up a little bit higher, hold again for 30 seconds. Then one final time. The reason you are moving your arms up higher is to stretch different fibers of the pectoralis major muscle. As you can see by the picture the muscle spans across a large area.
Self massage using a ball against the wall or floor works wonderfully, be careful if you are a woman not to roll too low as it can be uncomfortable to roll over breast tissue. It is great to roll with the ball near the arm pit and just under and along the clavicle bone.