Welcome to Purposeful Foam Rolling Blog:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons estimated 126.6 million Americans (one in two adults) are affected by a musculoskeletal condition. Your HealthySteps is are working to reduce this number.
The goal of our online course and blog is to help you understand why your muscles are becoming more tight, stiff and sore, the problems this can cause, and what you can do about it. We want to give you the knowledge and the tools so that you can take control of your body’s tight and stiff muscles.
A muscle that can cause pain in the chest, down the inside of the arm, and into the fingers.
A small little muscle that you may never have heard of. Yet, it can cause significant problems with our shoulders, and cause some scary pain.
Where Is This Muscle Located?
Pectoralis minor is located in the front of our upper body, under the large chest muscle Pectoralis Major. It actually attaches to the front part of our shoulder blade (scapula) at a point called the Coracoid Process. The muscle runs downward and inward attaching into the third, fourth, and fifth rib.
How To Find This Muscle On Yourself?
Place your hand on your chest as if you were going to say the Pledge Of Allegiance. Slide you hand up so that your fingers are at the point where you upper arm meets your collar bone. Press with your fingers and you’ll feel a divot or pocket. This is roughly the area where the Pectoralis minor attaches to the front part of your shoulder blade. Now, keep your fingers together and move your hand downward and slightly inward roughly 2 inches. This is the general location of the Pectoralis minor.
What Does This Muscle Do?
This muscle pulls the shoulder blade (scapula) from the front forward, downward, and inward. It also helps in forced inhalation when the shoulder blades are locked down.
What Causes This Muscle To Get Tight?
There are many causes for this muscle to be tight. Poor sitting posture, sitting for long periods, poor standing posture, standing for long periods, long term stress, heavy backpacks or purses, Other muscles being tight or weak around the area such as pectorals major, trapezius,
What Happen When This Muscle Gets Tight?
Tight Pectoralis minor can impact the fluid movements of your shoulders. When this muscle is tight, it can pull your shoulder blades forward and downward causing the shoulder blades to wing out or stick out in the back, This tightness can cause difficulty for you in reaching forward and up or reaching backward with the arm at shoulder height. A tight Pectorals Minor can also cause entrapment on (place pressure on) a group of nerves that run through this area on their way to the arms. Entrapment of the nerves can cause your arm to go numb or tingly when your arm is placed above the head. Also, since this muscle connects to the ribs it can have an impact on your breathing. Finally, like all tight muscles, Pectoralis Minor can develop hyper-irritated points, called Trigger Points. These Trigger Points cause significant pain in the body. Pectoralis Minor can develop 2 trigger points, which can create pain that can mimic a heart attack. This pain can develop on either the right side of your body or the left depending on which Pectoralis minor develops trigger points. The main focus of pain tends to be in the upper front part of the arm, (Anterior Deltoid), but it can spread out into the chest, down the inside of the upper and lower arm, into the pinky side of the palm and palm side of the last 3 fingers.
How Do You Take Care Of This Muscle?
First and most important, if you are experiencing pain and symptom of a heart attack, seek medical help. It is very important to make sure that you don’t have anything going on with the heart. Once you have ruled out all medical causes then take a look at how to deal with a tight Pectoralis minor.
Self care for a Pectoralis minor.
Take a break from activities that tend cause the pain pattern, gardening working at a desk etc. Place a moist heat pack on your chest to help warm up the muscle. Once the area is nice and warm stand facing a wall or lie face down on the floor. “ If you have any bone density issue consult your doctor first! (Please read our disclaimer) Take a foam roller and place it against the wall or floor so that the long edge is parallel to your body. Depending on which muscle you are working, (left or right) rotate the top of the foam roller inward 45 degrees. Take the arm on the side you are working and raise it straight above your head. Lean your body into the foam roller so that it is against your chest. Move your body so that your chest is rolling across the foam roller roughly about an inch and a half distance.
If this area is painful or it just doesn’t seem to be loosening, it may be a good idea to consult with a Physical Therapist or Rehabilitative Massage Therapist.
STRETCHING: Doorway or Corner Stretch.
Stand in an open doorway or a corner of a room. Raise your arms to your sides until they are horizontal to the floor. Now bend your elbow to 90 degrees and place the palms of your hands against the door frames or each wall in a corner. Lean forward to stretch the chest. Hold the stretch for the count of 8 and repeat 3-4 times. Raise your arms up slightly higher to stretch the upper portion of the chest and lower your arm slightly to you work the lower portions of the chest.
Good Posture Is So Important.
Since this muscle is impacted by poor posture it is important to maintain good posture. Set a timer every fifteen minutes to help remind you to get and stay in good posture. Remember good posture is when you align your ears, shoulders and hips when you are sitting, and your ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles when you are standing. If getting into alignment is difficult or painful you may need to work with a Physical Therapist.
We hope this was helpful.
If you would like to learn how to form roll safely, effectively and efficiently take a look at our online course outline. At “Purposeful Foam Rolling”