Most people have heard the term “pecs” thrown around at the gym, which is usually used as a vague reference to the pectoralis major, or the big superman chest muscles. You know, the ones that only the classiest of fellows try to woo women with by flexing them.
What I want to do today is to more thoroughly define the term by taking a look at the pectoralis major’s shy little brother, the pectoralis minor. Pectoralis minor lies deep to the pectoralis major and covers a much smaller area, originating at the third, fourth, and fifth ribs, and inserting on the coracoid process of the scapula (that little beak-like protrusion of the scapula which reaches into the front body and lies below the acromion process).
While pectoralis minor isn’t as showy and easy to find as pectoralis major, it is a key muscle to bear in mind when dealing with issues of protracted and downwardly rotated scapula. This causes the frequent posture gripe from people of feeling like the inferior angle of their scapula is “sticking out,” and their shoulders are rolling forward, creeping on to their front body.
This scapular position cannot be addressed and corrected without freeing any overly tight pectoralis minor fibers. Because the pectoralis minor can be difficult to palpate through or underneath the pectoralis major, I recommend putting your Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls to use, which can penetrate through the big bulky major fibers to the pectoralis minor below. The best times to break out the Therapy Balls for the pectoralis minor are after a long day on the computer, a long day driving, or if you chronically carry a bag around on one shoulder. All of these very common actions contribute to shortening of its fibers. So if you want to be liberated from bad posture, roll out that pectoralis minor!
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Pectoralis Major: Offender or Victim? Read the full article.
It sounds like I’ll be needing to roll out my pectoralis major daily! I’m constantly working on a computer and driving. Thanks for explaining how this is linked to a ‘winged’ scapula, great info!
The comment about carrying a bag really resonated with me, I have always had one shoulder that is lower than the other – I think this was a major contributing factor. I spent some time really working the ball deep into the pec, and it has made a big difference so far. I will keep working on it and trying to stretch out this little muscle!
Thank you for focusing on the pectoralis minor and the shortening of its fibers, exacerbated by so many of our damaging postural habits. Being able to lengthen these fibers by using the YTU therapy balls is a great route to better posture.
Brooke, Thanks for such a well written article on Pec Minor and what it does! its often the little things that make the difference. Love the feeling of expansion in my chest wall after using the YTU Therapy balls and how my shoulders feel afterwards. Clients love it too after they have gotten over the initial blimey I didn’t realise that was so tight, congested tacked down, uncomfortable after using the balls to find the issues in their tissues.
Great stuff! I suffer from a muscular imbalance between chest and back and need to use the YTU Therapy Balls to address my tight Pec Minor muscles more often. Thanks!
Every time we roll the pec minor in class, folks respond! “Oh!,” “Owe,” ” Oh my gosh, that’s tight!” And usually people feel better soon afterwards too. And from this release, you get better range of motion in the shoulder girdle and can function better.
Thank you for this concise piece on pec minor. I’m finding lots of people are benefiting from using the YTU balls on pec minor, standing in a doorway & leaning into the muscle. The release they get here is really helpful prior to doing any extension or external rotation of the shoulder joint. And thank you for all your amazing work in the Liberated Body podcasts, which is where I first heard Jill Miller!
In working with my neuromuscular massage therapist I discovered how truly trashed my pec minors were. I now use the YTU balls to tease them out, in addition to doing abduction and external rotation stretches against the wall. The good news is, they respond pretty quickly when you care for them!
YTU therapy balls are magic. rolling against the wall offers the perfect pressure. YTU balls have a permanent place in my handbag.
I tried this after a long day of travelling across the country with my heaviest bags slung on one shoulder, and what a difference it made in the shoulder and head and neck! next travel time I will pack lighter and use a rolling bag!
It’s amazing how a few minutes of rolling can begin to recover and strengthen the pec minor after hours of driving or carrying a purse. Thanks Brooke.
If you follow the work of Thomas Myers you with find the relationship to pec minor runs deep along the arm line. Overuse and misuse often creates a perfect situation not only for shoulder impingement, but downstream tendonopathy and neuropathy.
I LOVE rolling my pec minor! It frees me up in the shoulders and makes attaining a more ideal posture MUCH easier! Instead of feeling like I’m in a tug of war.
Sounds like I should also be attacking the pec minor with the YTU Therapy Balls since my shoulders internally rotate. It’s a good reminder to look at the smaller muscles surrounding the bigger muscles; they may need some tune up as well.
I just read your 3 articles on the pectoralis minor, and as soon as I submit this comment, I am going to try the open sesame stretch and apply some ball rolling to it. Thank you, Brooke, for the awareness and detailed info on why this muscle needs some great love!
Rolling out that pec minor as soon as I’m done thanking you to remind me to open that area out…..I’ve always thought I need to strenthen and pull back my rhomboids to get my protracted shoulders in gear. Rolling out!
I find this to be a body blind spot….I don’t recognize I need to roll pec minor until, when I’m done, I can tell how much better I feel.
So important! I have chronic pain around the shoulder blades, and for years I tried to address it only through treating the area that was in pain: heating my back, deep tissue massages, endless stretching of the shoulders and upper back. It wasn’t until (very recently) I started to allow my attention to wander around to the FRONT and do I can there to open up that my pain has begun to decrease. It seems so obvious now – the body is a system! nothing works in isolation! if there’s a back, there’s a front! duh! – but when pain strikes, it’s so difficult not to just go to wherever is the most acute and dig in. Now when my back is really hurting, I START by doing some Yin stretches for the pecs and only after that do I target the area that’s in pain. This had made a huge difference.
Nice of you to give little brother Pec Minor some attention! This reminds me that I definitely need to spend more time releasing mine!
For years I tried to free up my tight shoulders by just focusing on my upper back. Only recently did I take my problem to the front door to my pecs, as well as cut out chaturanga from my daily practice. What a difference!
Thanks for this post, Brooke. I’m a huge fan of rolling out the peck minors! I have found that this work is hugely beneficial not just for those working at a desk but for anyone who’s shoulders are frequently in protraction. For instance, my sister is a mother of 5 and is constantly picking up, holding, and putting down children and their things…not to mention the internal rotation in her shoulders from years of lugging around diaper bags. Another group is martial artists and other self defense enthusiasts. I am a yoga instructor at a Krav Maga studio. With their fighting stance, chokes, punches, and conditioning drills, this crowd is desperately in need of some Pec minor elongation. I often compliment rolling out their pec minor with stretching the pecs through shoulder extension (flossing the shoulders) and strengthening of the Rhomboids and Lats (Goddess, Cobra, and Locust) to further enhance retraction and external rotation of the shoulders while educing the internal rotation and protraction.
Thank you Brooke for this great anatomy lesson on the pec minor! I now have a deeper understanding of the location and action of this muscle and what is happening anatomically when the pec minor is tight. The combination of having a full-time job that involves working a lot on a computer and being a rock climber means that my pec minor is often quite tight from internal rotation of my shoulders. Rolling my pec minors with the YTU therapy balls has not only improved the external rotation and depression of my shoulders, but also my breathing.
Thank you for the visual description of the pec minor’s affect on the scapula. As I read it, I could visualize 3 people I can’t wait to tell all about how to use the YTU Therapy balls to improve their shoulder function!
My pectoralis are always super tight after rock climbing. Roll out the pectoralis major and minor is a great idea, I need to do this more often. I love your description on the location of the pectoralis minor but I think it’s even more helpful and easier for anatomy rookie as myself to imagine if there is a illustrated picture. Thanks Brooke.
My pec minor is super tight and causing some major imbalances and shoulder instability. I am experimenting with the Yoga Tune Up therapy balls to see if it makes a difference. I am also going to incorporate mega plank to strengthen the serratus.
Brook, Thank you for your contribution and re-enforcement to roll out the little pec , the big one always seem to get the attention. Nancy
This is such an important muscles for everyone to roll out, from intense exercises to office mongers it is imperative that everyone keep a healthy, happy pectorals minor. The internal shoulder rotation epidemic is sweeping the nation and yoga tube up balls in all offices would inspire a more creative, comfortable work force!
It’s incredible the change that can be done to both posture and breath by rolling this out. Breathing becomes a whole lot easier and full when the pec minor is working properly! This muscle assists the diaphragm by raising the rib cage so it is super important to be healthy 🙂
Lot of truth in this post. I know I have slightly internally rotated humerii, but one of the first things I tried when I got my YTU Balls was just rolling them along my pec minor. Holy Moly! even light pressure made me want to gasp for air. At least I know where to start unwinding…
I just discovered my pec minor in class today when we rolled it out with a YTU therapy ball like you suggest in your post. It has definitely been a blind spot for me and called my name clearly when I rolled over it! I will continue to work on this, and hopefully am already standing a little taller…
Thank you for the clear description of Pec Minor’s location and how this muscle plays such an important role in scapular positioning. As most of us tend to log quite a bit of time behind the computer, driving, or engaged in other activities where the shoulders are internally rotated (and often the spine is flexed), I imagine that there must be an epidemic of adaptive shortening of Pec Minor’s fibers, and of course the “wing out” positioning of the scapula that follows. Consistent Pec Minor rollouts with the YTU balls are a must if one wants to create healthy alignment and functionality of this important area that impacts not only our shoulders, but our breath capacity as well.
Today I taught a ball sequence intended to isolate and free up both pec major and minor. I have been dealing with adhesions in this area due to lack of strength in my shoulders in general. as i build strength in this area i am looking forward to finding new ways via the therapy balls to keep pec minor adhesion free during the healing process.
For years my mother told me to sit up straight and roll my shoulders back and I tried to comply, without much success of feeling like I did in fact “roll my shoulders back” even after trying. I realize now it’s because while I was trying, my pec minor/major were too tight. I’ve started to incorporate rolling them out and can’t wait to see if it allows me to externally rotate my arm more easily, so the next time I see my mom I can “roll my shoulders back.”
Great article! Pec minor is a somewhat forgotten muscles among my students. I have had amazing results when using the YTU Therapy Balls in the scapula and pec region. While at a training event last month with Jill Miller, we used friendly colored markers to draw in various anatomic bony points so that they were easy to see. The whole class was amazed -early in the day – at the bizarre shape of my clavicle (resulting from and old fracture), What was significant was that after only a few lessons in ball rolling – later in the day- someone pointed everyone’s attention to me. My clavicle had come to a much better alignment that quite frankly shocked the class and Jill because of the dramatic “before and after”. I was happy because it felt better! I will keep on rolling…
Who knew that these large muscles, our pectoralis major had a little brother/sister? After my Sunday Yoga Tune Up “balls” session with Maura and her team I was liberated! I am so thankful that I have this little tool to play with at home and to share with my family. My shoulders are always nagging me; reminding me of all the baggage in my life.
Thank you yoga tune up for introducing me to my Yoga Tune Up Balls; I will never leave home without them 😉
One more muscle to work with correcting our society’s posture working at computers. I’ve found good luck releasing this muscle by placing the ball below the clavicle right at the shoulder joint in the dimple before the acromion process.
thank you for this article. i was wondering if we could use the YTU balls on our pectoralis major & minor. i will give this a try.
For a long time I had a loose and “wingy” shoulder blade. Eventually I developed a pretty spicy injury in that shoulder. In addition to some pretty spicy goop in my sub scapularis, I found that pec minor was all kinds of bound up. A little manual therapy and a whole lot of ball rolling put me back on track.
Doing a handstand was super scary for me on so many levels and it was in using the YTU balll rolling specificallly around the pectoralis major and upper back spine that helped me to open up. After reading this article – I can’t wait to explore rolling along the pectoralis minor to create even more expansion!!!
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I have added the use of the Yoga Tune Up ® therapy balls on my pectoralis muscles to my “start-the-day” routine AND to my “end-of- day” routine with life-enhancing results!
Thanks for this article. It’s really got me thinking about pec minor and it’s pal serratus anterior….on my way to the Trail Guide…. 🙂
Such a perfect and simple idea to help create openness in the chest and shoulders. We have become a “slumped” population from too much computer use and too much driving. Using the tune-up balls adds to the arsenal of tips to help free us from the slump.
Thank you for posting this article! I found it helpful in understanding my shoulder pain through contributing factors like the tight pectoralis minor fibers, a muscle that can easy get overlooked.