A tight pec minor muscle is a very common problem that I see in many of my clients, especially those with desk jobs or who spend too much time sitting. These are the folks with the forward head and rounded shoulder posture, who frequently complain of shoulder pain, headaches, or present with symptoms consistent with shoulder impingement. If left unchecked, shoulder dysfunction caused by this imbalance can lead to impingement, thoracic outlet syndrome, or even tears of the supraspinatus muscle of the rotator cuff. This is not only detrimental to athletes who play overhead or throwing sports, but can also affect activities of daily living. While there are many ways to go about it, here are three different types of stretches or releases that you can do yourself (no partner or practitioner needed) to stretch pec minor.
Pec Minor Self Myofascial Release
This one’s probably my favorite and a good place to start, even if you incorporate other stretches. It’s not as effective as having a skilled massage therapist or physical therapist do myofascial release on you, but this one you can do yourself. Get a firm ball, such as a lacrosse ball, baseball, or therapy ball and place it between your pec minor and a wall. With your hand behind your back, apply pressure as tolerated (if your pec minor is tight and you’ve placed the ball correctly, you will feel some tenderness/discomfort). Hold tender spots for 30-60 seconds or until you feel a release.
Pec Minor Active Isolated Stretch
I tend to have my clients do more active isolated stretching than static stretching because it also helps to activate the antagonist (which is typically weak or inhibited) and through reciprocal inhibition releases the pec minor. Simply stand with good posture, scapula retracted. Lift arms up in a “Y” position and actively contract the muscles in the back of your shoulders (posterior delt, rhomboids, etc) and hold for 2 seconds. Repeat for 10 reps.
Pec Minor Wall Stretch
Stand next to a wall and place arm against it with elbow above shoulder height. Slowly rotate away from the wall until a stretch is felt and hold for 20-30 seconds.
There are other stretches and releases that I do with my clients, including a variety of PNF techniques, but these three are easy to do yourself and will get you started. If you’d like to learn which stretches you need to do to optimize your health or performance, call me today and we’ll do an assessment.