June 14, 2020 4 min read
The human body has quite literally hundreds of muscles inside it. If we’re being more specific, the total amount is close to 600. That’s a lot of muscle fiber! Each and every one of them has a name as well as a function, and we just wouldn’t be able to move around like we do without all of them working together.
While there’s really no expectation to know the names and locations of every muscle in your body, there are some that you do need to know about and understand. This goes double for muscles that play a role in things like your posture and, by extension, that pesky back pain that you’ve been experiencing!
Unfortunately, many of these crucial muscles and muscle groups end up getting overlooked more often than not. One of those super serious muscles is known as the pectoralis minor muscle, and when you have trouble with your pectoralis minor, you can experience flexibility issues in your chest. Problems with your pectoralis minor muscle can even lead back pain and can cause shoulder pain. The pectoralis minor has also been known to cause shoulder injury as well, making it incredibly important to understand this muscle, how it functions, and how to keep it healthy!
So that’s why the major muscle that we’re going to discuss today is your pectoralis minor muscle, which is also sometimes also called your pec minor. This muscle is located on the front of your chest and goes from your Coracoid process, which is a small hook-like structure on the lateral edge of the top front portion of the scapula, also known as the shoulder blade, The muscle and then connects to your third, fourth, and fifth ribs. There’s a pectoralis minor on both sides of your chest, one for each shoulder, and while it might not be as well-known as other muscles like your biceps, trapezoids, or abs, it’s just as important - maybe even more.
Coracoid Process Scapula Rib Cage Shoulder Area Bad Posture The Natural Posture
The Pectoralis Minor muscle is known to cause so many ailments in people yet it's often overlooked. You might not even know that the pectoralis minor even exists. I personally didn't realize this muscle was so stiff on myself until someone tested it on me. If the pectoralis minor muscle is very tight to you then this is forcing you into a bad posture position, as it pulls on your shoulders and causes them to slant forward, creating a rounded posture. With your pectoralis minor causing round shoulders, it can cause a shoulder injury by decreasing the space of your shoulder movement and putting additional wear and tear on your shoulder joint.
We are very prone to having a tight pectoralis minor muscle just because we have a very sedentary lifestyle and tend to round our shoulders when we're doing activities of daily living. The pectoralis minor muscle can easily get very tight on many of us and it's such an overlooked muscle, so you really want to focus on stretching your pec minor.
Pectoralis Minor - Natural Posture
The action of the pectoralis minor muscle that is connected to your shoulder blades is to bring your shoulders forward or backward. It also tilts your shoulder blades vertically.
This muscle is important because, as you raise your arms up over your head, your shoulder blades are supposed to rotate accordingly. If the pectoralis minor muscle is very tight, you can’t rotate your shoulders to their full extent and you are jamming the space of the shoulder region. In all, this will cause a lack of mobility - and this can then lead to not just poor posture but possible muscle injury as well.
Because you're not getting the rotation that you need you are putting yourself at risk. This risk pertains to any exercises or movements that utilize your shoulders. So, the bottom line is that you want to really stretch the pectoralis minor muscle! You need to stretch this muscle every day as long as you're not in pain doing it.
Well here's what you do and it's simple. Go into a corner of a room and then put your hands and arms up on each adjacent wall. You're going to raise your elbows just slightly higher than your shoulders, and gently lean forward while your feet are planted. You should feel a stretch in your Pectoralis Minor. Stretch out the muscle for 30 seconds at a time and at least 3-5 minutes of stretching per session. See picture below for example.
Pec Minor Stretching using Corner Wall The Natural Posture
Even though the pectoralis minor muscle group is on the smaller side it is still very powerful and needs this kind of attention. You can do this stretch each day. Doing these on a daily basis is going to help to expand your chest and decrease your back and shoulder pain.
This pectoralis minor stretch does more than just work to relieve pain and discomfort, though - it’s also going to help you improve your posture by counteracting the natural inclination to hunch your shoulders, such as when you tend to do while working at a desk in an office setting.
All in all, this is why the pec minor is the best muscle to stretch for upper back pain and to achieve a natural posture.
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