The pectoralis minor muscle isn’t one that is often discussed, probably because it is overshadowed by it’s larger and more superficial (closer to the surface) friend, pectoralis major. Pec major is that big muscle on the surface of the chest that is responsible for bench press type movements. Pec minor is the smaller muscle underneath that arises from the 3rd, 4th and 5th ribs and attaches to the coracoid process of the scapula and contraction of this muscle causes the scapula tilt anteriorly (forward and down).
What a tight pec minor can lead to:
- rotator cuff impingement
- forward head posture leading to neck pain and dysfunction
- increase in trigger points through the upper traps and levator scapulae which may lead to headaches
- referred pain into the shoulder and arm
- thoracic outlet syndrome
B/C. Tight pec minor
What happens when pec minor is too tight?
Try rounding your shoulders forwards and downwards to contract the pec major (like in diagram C above) and then attempt to lift your arms overhead. Notice how your ROM is majorly limited? That is, in effect, what happens when pectoralis minor is too tight. Combine that with tight pectoralis major and you pretty much have no chance at achieving full ROM of the shoulders. However, our bodies are pretty clever and will try find a way around this, forcing the shoulder to get into those positions. Do this thousands of times and it is a recipe for shoulder impingement, bursitis, rotator cuff tears – you get the picture.
Try this stretch to release pec minor
- Grab 2x light (1-2.5kg) plates/dumbells.
- Lie on a foam roller lengthwise along your spine.
- Keep your elbows tucked closely into your sides.
- Externally rotate your shoulders by allowing the weights to pull the arms towards the floor.
- Hold for 2 minutes.
If you don’t get any benefit from the stretch above, just remember that the trouble with pec minor is that it is a difficult muscle to stretch and trigger point due to its location. That is where MobilizeMe Physio comes in handy! You can try doing some trigger point releasing to your pec major but if the problem is really lying underneath, no amount of lacrosse ball smashing is going to help. You need another set of hands (literally) to get in there and release it.
|Pec minor trigger point referral pattern|