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Thai Massage For the Pectoralis Minor

Do you ever feel your shoulders pulling you into a slouch? The pectoralis minor may be contributing to this bad posture.

What is the Pectoralis Minor?

Typically, individuals only think about their pectoralis minor muscle when it begins to cause distress in areas such as the shoulders, neck, upper back, or elbow.

The pectoralis minor is a triangular-shaped muscle positioned beneath the pectoralis major muscle and acts as the front wall beneath the shoulder joint where the arm meets the shoulder. It originates from the upper margins and outer surfaces of the third to fifth ribs adjacent to the costochondral junction, and its fibres ascend and converge to create a flat tendon. This tendon inserts laterally into the medial border and top surface of a small, hook-like structure situated on the lateral edge of the upper front section of the scapula.

Although pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and anti-inflammatories can help treat the symptoms of a tight pectoralis minor, traditional Thai massage, stretching, and exercise are highly recommended for treating this painful affliction.

What Does the Pectoralis Minor Do?

The primary function of the pectoralis minor muscle is to provide stability to the scapula by drawing it downwards and forward toward the thoracic wall. Additionally, it plays a significant role in forming a conduit between the ribs to transit essential structures like the brachial plexus and subclavian artery and vein.

How Can You Hurt the Pectoralis Minor?

Remaining in a sedentary position for extended periods, such as when sitting at a computer or texting on a phone, can cause the head to shift forward and round the shoulders. This posture results in the pectoralis minor muscle becoming shortened and contracted, which can lead to various adverse effects.

One consequence of a contracted pectoralis minor is limited flexion of the shoulder joint. This contraction can cause pain or restriction in neck movements, stiffness and pain in the upper back, and an increased risk of rotator cuff injuries.

The second problem that arises from a contracted pectoralis minor is nerve compression in the neck region beneath the muscle. This contraction can cause pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the neck, chest, shoulder, arm, and hand areas.

Lastly, when the pectoralis minor becomes shortened, the scapula may “wing out,” meaning that the shoulder blade sticks out instead of resting flat against the chest wall. This condition can be painful and interfere with everyday tasks, such as carrying groceries or brushing one’s teeth.

What Thai Massage Works for The Pectoralis Minor?

The chest stretch is a common Thai massage technique to address a shortened pectoralis minor. This technique targets both the pectoralis major and minor.

Chest Stretch

Have the recipient sit cross-legged. Half kneel behind the recipient and place your inside hand on the shoulder of the recipient. Lift the recipient’s arm and bend it so their forearm is vertical. To prevent the recipient from rotating at the waist, brace your elbow against your knee. Then place the palm of your outside hand on the palm of the recipient’s bent arm with your forearm supporting their forearm.

Pull back on the recipient’s bent arm to target the pectoralis major and hold the stretch for 15 seconds. To target the pectoralis minor, move the recipient’s forearm upwards so that the upper arm is at a 135-degree angle and repeat the stretch for another 15 seconds. For both times, slowly increase the distance as the recipient exhales.

Pectoralis minor Stretches

3-Way Floor Chest Stretch

Lie down on your stomach and stretch one arm straight to the side. Slowly use the opposite arm to push the floor to raise the opposite chest off the ground. Go until you feel a light stretch in the targeted muscles. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly release by lowering the chest to the ground. Bent your arm 90 degrees and repeat. Finally, move your arm 45 degrees, turn the palm, and repeat the stretch for the last time.

Doorway Lunge Stretch

Stand in an open doorway. To target the pectoralis major, raise each arm to the side, bent at 90-degree angles with palms forward. Rest your palms on the door frame. Stand upright and don’t lean forward. Slowly step forward with one foot and hold the stretch for 30 seconds. To target the minor pectoralis, raise your arms to be at a 135-degree angle. Slowly step forward with one foot and hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

Supine Pec Minor Stretch

Lie down on your back and place a foam roller in the center of the spine. You can keep your knees bent for support. Keep your lower ribs down to prevent the lower back from arching, and place your arms out in the bent arm position. Hold for 30 seconds.

Quadruped Kneeling Stretch

Assume the quadruped position on a floor with a chair beside you. Place your forearm onto the chair and tilt your shoulder blade backwards. Lean your torso towards the floor and hold for 30 seconds.

Forward Lean Dip

Place your hands on two surface tops and lean your torso forwards. Tilt your shoulder blades backwards, lower your torso and hold for 30 seconds.

Pectoralis minor Exercises

Arm Pulls

Stand or sit with your elbows at your sides and bring your forearms up at a 90-degree angle. Keep your forearms parallel to the floor, pull your arms back and try to touch your shoulder blades together behind your back. Hold the contraction for several moments and then release. Repeat as desired.

Chair Dips

Sit on the edge of a chair or bench. Grip the edge of the chair with your knuckles pointed outwards. Have your legs extended and your feet about hip-width apart, with the heels touching the ground. Look straight ahead, tuck your chin, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Press your palms into the chair to lift your body off the chair. Slide forward so that your buttocks do not hit the chair’s edge. Lower yourself until you can’t keep your shoulder blades tight or until you feel shoulder pain. Repeating, push yourself back up until your arms are almost straight.

Parallel Bar Dips

Lift between the parallel bars, bend your elbows slightly, and bend your knees to form a 90-degree angle with your legs. Look straight ahead, tuck your chin, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows until you can’t keep your shoulder blades tight or until you feel shoulder pain. Lift yourself back into the starting position.

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