When I first heard the words pec minor a number of years ago, I thought the person was referring to a music key! Turns out “pec minor” is the pectoralis minor muscle, one of the chest muscles.
Here is a picture of this muscle – located below the front chest muscle, so it is not visible to the eye.
How does this particular chest muscle affect our shoulder joint, and possibly cause shoulder pain?
The human shoulder joint consists of 2 bones – the scapula (or shoulder blade) and the clavicle (or collar bone). There are several muscles attached to these 2 bones, one of which is the pectoralis minor. It is attached from the coracoid process of scapula to the rib cage.
When the pec minor muscle is tight, it causes a person to have a rounded shoulder posture since it pulls the shoulder blade forward.
This is quite a common syndrome for people who spend long hours hunched forward at the computer. Apart from changing the posture of a person, tight pec minor muscles may lead to shoulder pain.
Tight pec minor muscles restrict the proper movement of the scapula, thus increasing the risk of shoulder impingement syndrome. “Shoulder impingement is pain and often weakness when you raise your arm, caused by a muscle tendon ‘catching’ in your shoulder” – www.nhs.uk
There are a number of ways to address the syndrome caused by tight pec minor muscles. Firstly to stretch the pec minor muscle regularly, secondly to activate and strengthen the rotator cuff muscles and muscles that move the shoulder blades namely the upper trapezius and serratus anterior.
Unfortunately, we can’t avoid not using the computer for our work or leisure pursuits, so look out for my next post where I will describe how you can help yourself reduce the risk of shoulder impingement and prevent shoulder pain caused by tight pec minor muscles.