There are several ways to stretch to hit pec minor at home or the gym.
This small muscle hangs beneath the larger Pectoralis Major and helps keep its neighboring pecs from sagging. Although they may not be as visible as other muscles in our bodies, the best stretch to hit Pec Minor will improve posture, prevent slouching and make you look great.
People do not stretch to hit pec minor enough.
When your pec minor is tight, it pulls your shoulder out of good alignment and puts it at greater risk of injury.
What you need to do is to add a “twist.”
The pectoralis- or “pec”- minor is a small, thin, triangular muscle in your upper chest. It sits beneath the pectoralis major, a large muscle in the chest. The pec minor begins at the outer surfaces of the third, fourth and fifth ribs and attaches to the coracoid process of the scapula. The pec minor stabilizes, depresses, abducts, internally rotates, and downwardly rotates the scapula, so hitting the pec minor is important.
When the pec minor is tight, it can cause pain at the front of the shoulder and down the arm. Tightness in the pec minor can also compromise the bundle of nerves that run down the arm. It can tip the shoulder blade forward, leading to rounded shoulders and winged shoulder blades, where the lower tip of the shoulder blade is winging off the rib cage. Almost everyone has a tight pec minor, as the pec minor can get tight from prolonged sitting, especially with poor posture. This can occur anytime, such as watching TV, working on a laptop or computer, or using your cell phone. Other causes of tight pec muscles are holding heavy bags on your shoulder, direct trauma to the chest, stress, or long-term use of crutches.
Bad posture with the shoulders
The typical bad posture with the shoulders rounded forward is aggravated further by tight pec minor muscles. Over time, sitting in this position leads to the pec minor muscle shortening, which leads to the muscle being tight and hyper-responsive. If you have ever tried to sit up straight and correct your posture by holding your shoulders back, tension is created between your postural muscles in the back and the tight pec muscles in your chest.
This hunched forward position of the shoulders impacts other muscles in the shoulder. When the pec minor is tight, it does not function properly. This means that other muscles, such as the levator scapulae and trapezius muscles, need to compensate by working harder to support movements in the shoulder. This is when you will experience a tight neck and shoulders and may have those pesky “knots” in your muscles. Sometimes, what feels like tension and stress in your muscles is the tired muscles in your upper shoulder that must work overtime to compensate for tight chest muscles. A tight pec minor can also affect the movement patterns in your shoulder, which can lead to shoulder injuries.
Try the exercise in this post to help stretch out and release your pec minor.
I had Dan do a 90-90 chest stretch in the photo below. He moves into the traditional chest stretch position; then, I get him to twist his upper body away from the shoulder he is stretching.
Bang! Now that you have hit pec minor, you will benefit from your chest stretch.
Could you give it a go now?
Rick Kaselj, MS.
For your guide to eliminating shoulder pain, check out Shoulder Pain Solved here!