If you spend all day on a computer or smartphone, chances are you have a tight upper body. The reason is simple: When you stay in one fixed position for many hours hunched over something, the front of your upper body—like your pecs—becomes extremely tight while the rear of your upper body—like your shoulders—becomes lengthened and weak. Over time, this negatively impacts your posture, reduces overall mobility and range of motion in your joints, and increases your risk of aches and pains. So, I’m here to help with 10 of the best regular exercises to improve upper-body mobility.

It’s vital to use training to improve your physique and overall mobility, specifically in your upper body. That way, you can counteract these problems and get more out of your gym sessions.

In this article, I’ll share 10 of the best exercises to help you improve upper-body mobility. Do a few of these as a warm-up before you train or as a cooldown afterward. If you’re feeling stiff and tight, you can also do them on your “off day” after a long day of work.

Remember: With mobility, frequency is important—a little bit every day goes a long way. Keep reading for the best exercises for upper-body mobility.

Pec Stretch (30 seconds)

Virtually everyone’s pectoral muscles are way too tight. Reverse this by simply stretching your chest muscles in a gentle, relaxed way. (Make sure not to scrunch your face or hold your breath.)

Place your forearm and elbow along a wall or doorway so they make a 90-degree angle. Keep your elbow around shoulder height. Then, lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your chest. Hold that stretch. Repeat on the other side.

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Wall Slides (10 reps)

If you strengthen your lower traps, you’ll improve your posture and help your shoulders sit in the right position. This allows the joint and the surrounding muscles to be free to fully move.

Stand with your head, shoulders, and glutes against a wall. Press your forearms flush against the wall. (There should be no space between your skin and the wall). Squeeze your glutes and press your lower back against the wall while sliding your forearms up and down the wall.

Child’s Pose Breathing (5 breaths)

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Poor breathing mechanics overuse the wrong muscles and make them stiff and tight. Breathing correctly can work wonders to release the tight muscles in your upper traps, chest, and more.

Get into a child’s pose and round the entire length of your spine. Exhale every last ounce of air from your lungs. Hold for one second, and then inhale through your nose. When you inhale, focus on driving air into your back.

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Bent-over T-Spine Extension (8 reps per side)

If you have a tight upper back, get relief by improving the mobility in your middle-back area, which is called the thoracic spine. This will help take pressure off your lower back and shoulder joints.

Bend your knees and hips until your torso is parallel to the floor. Your lower back should remain flat as you lengthen your arms out in front of your body, palms facing up. Then, reach back with one of your arms, following that hand with your gaze and feeling a solid stretch in your shoulders and thoracic spine. Repeat this motion with your other arm, and continue switching between arms.

Heel Sit T/S Extension with Rotation (8 reps per side)

With this upper-body mobility drill, you open your thoracic spine while locking your hips in place so they don’t move. This is advantageous if you’re new to training and want to be sure to feel the correct muscles working.

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With your knees on the ground, sit back into your heels with your laces flat on the floor. Then, bend your torso over and place your hands on the floor before your body. Put one hand behind your head and reach up and behind you with your elbow. (Watch that elbow with your eyes.) You should feel a stretch in your upper back. Do all your reps on one side and repeat with the other arm.

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Segmental T/S Extension (8 reps)

This is another gentle and effective way to open up a tight thoracic spine area. All you need is a foam roller.

Lay a foam roller across your mid-back. Place your hands behind your head, keep your butt on the ground, and pull your body backward on the foam roller while maintaining a neutral neck.

Face Pulls (12 reps)

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Face pulls target the neglected muscles in your upper back and create balance between the rear and front halves of your upper body. Once you improve your posture, your mobility will improve.

Set a cable rope attachment above your head. Grab the ends of the rope in each hand with your palms facing each other and start the movement by squeezing your shoulder blades down and back. Pull the rope toward your nose. For more range of motion, attach two cable rope attachments to the machine and hold one rope in each hand.

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Spiderman Lunge With Overhead Reach (5 per side)

This is known as a lower-body mobility drill, but it opens your upper body as well. (After all, everything in your body is connected.) With this dynamic exercise, you’ll open your entire body in one go, which is perfect right before some heavy training.

With your left leg, lunge forward and left about 30 degrees. Place both hands on the ground while keeping your elbows locked, and press your trailing knee to the ground. Squeeze the glute of the rear leg and extend your right arm to the sky while watching your hand with your eyes. Maintain a neutral arch in your lower back throughout. Stand up and switch sides.

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Hanging Lat Stretch (5 reps)

This exercise is awesome for shoulder mobility because you’re moving your ribcage around your shoulder joint—instead of the other way around like in most drills—for a deeper, longer-lasting stretch.

Find a pole to hang onto and a box to set your feet on. Grab onto the pole and let everything relax. With your feet still on the box, tuck your hips underneath you as you exhale. Keep your abs soft. Inhale through your nose. Keep your rib cage down, and try to expand your entire ribcage when you inhale.

Crab Walk (15 yards)

woman doing crab walkswoman doing crab walks
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Once you open your body, use a low-threshold and low-intensity exercise to train those same muscles, which helps those mobility gains last.

Start in the “crab position” with your hands and feet flat on the ground, chest facing up, knees bent, hips an inch from the ground, arms straight, hands directly underneath your shoulders, and fingers pointing behind you. Crawl forward by taking a tiny step with your right arm and left leg simultaneously and then another step with your left arm and right leg. Alternate while keeping your hips low and your chest up.

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