Pectoralis minor (the deeper smaller chest muscle) can cause pain in the front of the shoulder and down the arm when the Myofascial Trigger Points are activated. When tight this muscle can also compromise the bundle of nerves that run down the arm and tip the shoulder blade forward giving you a rounded shoulders look and winging the lower tip of the shoulder blade off the rib cage. As Myotherapists we see a lot of tight pec minors, in fact just about everyone that comes into the clinic has tight pec minor muscles!
So with that in mind here are a few good stretches to try. If yours is really tight you may get referral down your arm when doing the stretch or you may feel like it doesn’t ease off. If this happens to you, you will need to do some self myofascial release with a spikey ball before you stretch it.
Simply find the sore point, put the ball on it and put yourself and the ball against a wall or the floor depending on how much pressure you desire. Roll it around or let it sink in for about 60 seconds on the sore spot and your done! If you still have pain during the stretch after that you might be doing it incorrectly or you might need a different stretch so best to contact your musculoskeletal specialist in that case.
Doorway Lunge Stretch
Step 1. Put your hands on the door frames above head height with your elbows bent.
Step 2. Lunge through the door until you feel a stretch then slide the hands further up or down until you feel a deeper stretch.
Step 3. Hold for 60 seconds or try a contract relax version. This can also be done one side at a time in the doorway for a stronger stretch.
Foam Roller Arm Circles: my personal favourite!
Step 1. Lie on a full foam roller with it length ways along your spine including supporting your head.
Step 2. Take both arm straight towards the wall behind you so that they come close to your ears.
Step 3. Start to bend the elbows as your slide your arms down by your sides trying to let your arms relax towards the floor as you do so.
Step 4. Repeat for 10-20 reps or until you feel they have relaxed off. You may also add a small 0.5 – 1 kg weight to help the stretch.
Floor Roll Away Stretch
Step 1. Lie on your back with one arm out at a 45 degree angle above you head with the elbow bent.
Step 2. Anchor your arm with some leg weights or a heavy pillow.
Step 3. Roll your body gently away from the side being stretched until you feel the stretch coming into the deep pec area.
I hope you have fun giving these stretches a go. If you have consistently tight pec minors it is worth chatting with your practitioner about testing the strength of your lower trap muscles. These muscles do the opposite action and are commonly weak in conjunction with a tight pec minor. Some tips on how to test and strengthen your lower trap coming soon!