How to do a Pec Stretch on a Foam Roller

Triathletes and athletes of all types need proper training, mobility and stretching exercises to perform at the highest levels and stay injury free. I use a foam roller for my entire body. Here is how I do a pec muscle stretch on a foam roller.

Direct Pectoral Pressure Stretch on a Foam Roller

This pec stretch is most useful for men.  Women may also see benefits from these instructions, but if you have large breasts this may not be suitable.

Foam Roller Placement on the Pectoral Muscle

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Vertical Placement

How do you do a pec stretch on a foam roller? Place your foam roller on the floor.  Make sure the foam roller is vertically aligned with your spine.  Lay on your roller with pressure directed on your right pectoral muscle.  Brace your left arm on the floor with your left hand parallel to your face.  Use your feet and knees to stabilize your lower body.

Position the foam roller on the furthest left section of your right pectoral, next to your sternum.  Your right arm can be in nearly any position, but I recommend that you keep your right arm in a position that lengthens the right pectoral tissue.  Opening up your arms will lengthen the muscle.

Horizontal Alignment of the Foam Roller

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Horizontal Position

If you want your arm to lay in front of you, turn the foam roller horizontally and roll your body vertically.  This is a very beneficial pectoral stretch.

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Horizontal Lower Pec
Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Horizontal Upper Pec

How to Roll the Pec on the Foam Roller

Getting back to the vertically aligned foam roller, I prefer to put my right hand behind my head and keep my elbow elevated.  This allows more pressure to be applied to a greater surface area of your pectoral. There will also be a higher chance of applying pressure to a greater amount of muscle tissue.

At first this can feel awkward.  Getting a good pec stretch on foam rollers can feel uncomfortable at first.  It gets easier as you become more accustomed to the position. But, you may need to adjust your body on the roller to minimize the pain you feel.  

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Vertical First Position

After you have successfully gotten into position, begin to roll the foam roller horizontally towards the right side of your right pectoral muscle.  Your pectoral muscle attaches very close to your shoulder muscles. Be sure to roll all the way to your armpit or shoulder muscles. Then, roll the foam roller back to the left side of your right pectoral muscle.

Repeat the Process

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Direct Vertical Position

Now, you repeat the process for as long as you wish.  I recommend anywhere from 30 seconds – 2 minutes. As you perform this movement, be sure to try and capture all of the muscle.  If the foam roller does not provide pressure to a lower or upper part of the pectoral muscle, then reposition your body and the foam roller to accommodate the hard reach areas.

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Vertical Repeat

After you have completed your right pectoral, do the same steps listed above on your left pectoral muscle.  

Where to Focus

I highly recommend focusing most of the foam rollers pressure on the outer edges of your pectoral muscles.  Doctors and physiotherapists usually focus on where your muscle tissue connects to other soft and hard tissue.  The more blood and circulation you can get to the affected area, the more opportunity there will be for the muscle tissue and connective tissue to heal and strengthen.  

Thoracic Indirect Pec Stretch on a Foam Roller

    This type of stretch is much simpler and can be easily performed by both men and women.  The goal of this stretch is to allow the thoracic part of your spine to rest upon your foam roller while your pectoral muscles extend outwardly toward the floor Because you are slightly elevated above the floor, your spine remains at a higher elevation than your shoulders do.  The further to the floor you can evenly distribute your shoulders, the better you will feel this stretch.

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Indirect Vertical First Position

    You can start with your arms stretched out and your hands placed near your hips.  Keep your hands as close to the floor as possible.

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Indirect Vertical Second Position

Then, rotate your arms up toward your head very slowly.  You can perform this single motion from hip to head within 1 minute. I generally like to hold my stretches for 50 seconds.

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller - Indirect Vertical Last Position

 Then, I continually extend the range of my stretch through this 50 seconds. After 25 to 30 seconds my muscles allow me to extend further into the stretch.  General consensus is that a stretch should not be held for more than 1 minute. But, every body is different. So, extend the stretch for as long as you see fit.