Small pectoral muscle - the source of pain, which you can not guess
The pectoralis minor muscle is the “smaller sister” of the more massive and famous pectoralis major muscle. It is not strange, but even a muscle of such small size can cause serious problems. It is located under the pectoralis major muscle, moves away from the 3rd, 4th and 5th ribs, extends laterally upwards and is attached to the coracoid process of the scapula.
Functions of the pectoralis major muscle: stabilization of the scapula, as well as its lowering, pulling down and turning down. When the scapula is in a fixed position, this muscle is also involved in the lifting of the chest.
Having explained the functions of pectoralis minor , we will understand what problems may be associated with it.
The state of the pectoralis major muscle and posture disorders
Small pectoral muscle is a fairly significant factor in the formation of correct (or incorrect) posture. One of the functions of the pectoralis minor is to pull the shoulder blade away — moving it forward, away from the spine, and around the rib cage, which leads to a stoop in the shoulders.
Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle predominates in the lives of most of us - we spend the lion's share of time behind computers, driving, bending over the desk in unnatural postures, when our shoulders are rounded and leaned forward, our back is hunched. This situation in time inevitably leads to overstrain of the pectoralis major muscle (the appearance of muscle nodes, or clamps).
Violations of posture - although a large, but not the only problem caused by overstrain of the pectoralis major muscle. Therefore, we consider the following reasons:
- what symptoms and problems appear when pectoralis minor is overstrained;
- what is pectoralis major muscle syndrome;
- how to get rid of pain caused by overstrain of the pectoralis major muscle.
Overstrain of the pectoralis major muscle: the starting point for serious disorders
An overloaded small pectoral muscle significantly affects the function of the shoulder joint and increases the risk of injury.
Perhaps the most common problem associated with pectoralis minor is subacromial impingement syndrome .
In this case, the lack of space in the area between the humerus and the shoulder girdle (acromion) leads to pinching of the supraspinatal tendons and the subacromial sac, especially when raising the arm above the shoulder, as well as during rotational movements.
Pinched tendons, nerves and blood vessels in the shoulder and chest - the consequences of overstretching the pectoralis major muscle.
This lack of space can be directly related to the overstressed pectoral muscle due to the inclination of the shoulder blade forward and the reduction of the subacromial arch.
In this case, patients complain about :
- dull pain in the shoulder;
- increased pain when lifting hands up;
- sleep problems due to pain, especially when lying on the affected side;
- the characteristic sound of a crunch or click while lowering a hand;
- limitation of joint mobility;
- weakness in hand.
In addition to increasing the risk of pinching, overstrained small pectoral muscle together with the anterior serratus muscle translate the articular fossa of the scapula into a more upright position, which leads to an increased abduction, rotation and pterygium of the scapula.
Due to a change in the position of the scapula, the muscle lifting the scapula and the upper fibers of the trapezius muscle begin to strain intensely in an attempt to stabilize its position. Ultimately, this leads to an overstressing of the muscles of the neck and shoulders and the emergence of a multitude of trigger points in this area, which is typical of many people working at the table (or on the couch, with a laptop on their knees).
Shoulder pain, numbness of the arm, tingling in the upper limbs, as well as trigger points of the muscles of the neck and back - the effects of overstrain of the pectoralis major muscle.
Small pectoral muscle syndrome - when nerves and blood vessels are affected
In 50% of cases, it is the small pectoral muscle that is the root cause of the compression syndrome of the chest aperture (or simply the syndrome of the pectoralis major muscle ). What it is?
The syndrome of the pectoralis major muscle is manifested by compression of the nerves and blood vessels located in the anterior part of the shoulder and chest, the brachial nerve plexus, subclavian artery and vein. Constricted nerves and blood vessels necessarily make themselves felt, causing significant physical discomfort.
The symptoms of this syndrome vary depending on the location and degree of compression of the neurovascular bundle and can manifest as:
- pain across the entire arm - from the shoulder to the little finger;
- numbness, decreased sensitivity, tingling in limbs;
- weakness in the hand;
- blanching of the upper limb;
- lowering arm temperature;
- increased pain during movement.
As you can see, the pectoralis major muscle, or rather its overstrain, can cause problems covering the shoulder, neck and arm areas. But this is only a part of the whole picture: as a result of muscle compensation, which runs along the kinetic chain, the negative effect of overstretching of the pectoral muscle can even affect the lower back and pelvic area.
How to relax the small pectoral muscle: stretching and massage of the trigger points
The figures below show the location of the trigger points of the pectoralis major muscle and the pattern of reflected pain when you click on these points:
Fortunately, the small pectoral muscle responds well to therapy - massage and / or stretching. However, it is worth noting that it is not so easy to cope with overstrained small pectoral muscle, we recommend either contacting a specialist (which is, of course, better) or asking a friend / spouse / relative for help.
Stretching to eliminate the trigger points of the pectoralis major muscle:
- Lie on a cylindrical object (a special roller or a tightly rolled blanket or towel) so that it is on the spine line. In this position, lower the shoulders down towards the floor, relax, feel the relaxation in front of the shoulder and upper chest. Hands at the same time you can first put along the body, and then dilute at an angle of 80, 120 and 160 degrees.
- Sit on the floor and ask the assistant to be behind you. Put both hands back and ask the assistant to move your hands even further, gently and with little force.
Massage of the trigger points of the pectoralis major muscle: in order to perform the massage of the pectoralis major muscle, it is better to contact a specialist who can correctly determine the location of the trigger points and effectively influence them. At home, the massage can be performed with a tennis ball in the prone position (putting the ball on the floor) or standing (holding the ball between the wall and the pectoralis major muscle) as in the pictures:
In addition to stretching and massage, try to perform exercises aimed at strengthening the muscles-antagonists of the pectoralis major muscle. Focus on the middle and lower parts of the trapezius muscle, rhomboid, pay attention to the front of the dentate, hypomas, and the back deltas.
The best method of dealing with the problems caused by overstrain of the pectoralis major muscle is to prevent them - correct posture and keeping the muscles of the body in good shape is a pledge not only of a beautiful figure, but also of great well-being.