Now that we have an understanding of how tight pectoralis major muscles can affect us, let’s explore how we can combat it. Just as a reminder, reciprocal inhibition is that mechanism in our body that will loosen muscles that are being overstretched by their counter-muscles to prevent tearing. In this case, our rear shoulder muscles (like trapezius and the rhomboids) are overstretching to compensate for the Pectoralis Major that is contracting and shortening. This most typically results in pain -primarily in the traps and rhomboids! This is because the victims will always cry more than the offenders. Most often I will see clients who complain of “shoulder pain” in their traps and rhomboids. Not until we begin to work and stretch the Pectoralis Major out do they even realize they were tight.
In addition to the pain, many of my clients seem to suffer muscle amnesia in their traps and rhomboids because of the overstretching. This is because their muscle fibers are so stretched out that their function has decreased. The best way to remedy this is to simply regain proprioceptive awareness and build strength in the traps and rhomboids. I use YTU Gomukhasana Arms with my clients, to regain strength in the back of the body – the clip is below, and also on the 10 Minute Quick Fix for Shoulders. This pose brings each scapula into its full range of motion, which can help break up any scar tissue formation and activating the traps and rhomboids will promote reciprocal inhibition on the Pectoralis Major muscles, encouraging them to relax.