08 Nov The Role of Pec Minor in Shoulder Stability
The Role of Pec Minor in Shoulder Stability
Pectoralis Minor is one of the most important and sometimes neglected muscles of the shoulder girdle. It attaches to the third, fourth and fifth ribs near the costal cartilage and inserts onto the coracoid process (part of the scapula or wing bone). The pec minor can get tight from a variety of daily activities performed with poor posture. These include having rounded and/or forward drawn shoulders and is often accompanied by a hunched mid back. Some of these activities include working at a computer, driving, and reaching forward to play with or pick up children. Simply becoming more aware of your posture during these activities can be helpful and a first step in correction.
In addition to being tight, pec minors are also often weak, causing additional problems. Muscle can indicate if that is the case. The biggest problem with a tight pec minor is that it upsets the balance between the muscles in the back and front of the shoulder. In the example of poor posture, what is often the case is that the pec minor is tight or hypertonic and the muscles in the back become “stretch weakened”. In other words, they become over stretched and too weak. Therefore they are not strong enough to pull the shoulder back to proper alignment. This creates instability in the joint and can lead to other injuries such as a torn rotator cuff, thoracic outlet syndrome and pain.
A tight pec minor can make it difficult to achieve optimal posture. One of the easiest ways you can stretch pec minor is in a door way. You can view this stretch on video at our website www.aprcnj.com under the resources tab. However, stretching may not be enough if there are significant adhesions in the area. You may need to foam roll, roll the muscle tissue with a lacrosse ball, or seek treatment at our facility for soft tissue mobilization (ART, myofascial release, or Graston). It is also possible that the pec minor is tight to compensate for another weak muscle or dysfunctional movement pattern. If you are having pain or have an injury to the shoulder, there are many other muscles in the shoulder girdle or elsewhere that may not be functioning properly so please consult your physician before doing any of these stretches or exercises. Stretching and foam rolling the pec minor could help improve your posture. The Blackburn four are another great series of exercises to help create balance in the shoulder girdle and are found on video on our website. It is a set of four exercises designed to increase scapular stability and strengthen the muscles in the back of the shoulder.
In closing the best way to have happy pain free shoulders is to create and maintain balance between the muscles in the front and the muscles in the back. This includes a lengthened and adhesion free pec minor that is not overcompensating for any other muscle dysfunctions.
(Disclaimer if you already have pain and injury to your shoulder it is best to consult your physician before trying these exercises and stretches)