Pectoralis minor is susceptible to injury from inferior motions of the arm, whiplash, heavy purse or backpack straps, poor posture, and much more. "Because the brachial plexus (the bundle of nerves leading to the arm) passes directly underneath the attachment to the coracoid process, tightness in pectorals minor can entrap the nerve, causing numbness in the arm, especially when the arm is raised."
The action of the pectoralis minor is to pull down (draw inferiorly) the scapula and coracoid process to fix the shoulder blade in place for various movements of the
arm. A secondary function is to raise the ribs "to assist expansion of the chest during forced breathing, such as in vigorous sports activity."
Neuromuscular therapy, an approach to soft tissue manual therapy in which manual pressure and friction techniques are used to release trigger points, is often employed during massage to release a tight pec minor. Quite often the pectoralis minor is hypertonic post-op rotator cuff repair. Myofascial release, in which long, firm stretching strokes are employed without the use of oils to release fascial restrictions in the soft tissue caused by trauma and injury, and neuromuscular therapy are both wonderful techniques to restore mobility and improve shoulder range of motion. This blog describes these therapies in detail: Massage Techniques for Injury Work | Choosing the Best Massage Therapist.
- habitually slumped, round-shouldered, head-forward posture
- compression from a heavy backpack strap or purse strap
- shallow, chest breathing
- chronic cough
- repetitive, forceful, downward motions of the arms in sports or in the workplace
- heavy lifting or keeping the arms out in front of you or overhead for long periods
Davies, Clair and Amber. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2004. Print.
Finando, Donna & Finando, Stephen. Trigger Point Therapy for Myofascial Pain: The Practice of Informed Touch. Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 2005. Print.
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Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images on Visual hunt / No known copyright restrictions