Pectoralis minor muscle - a source of pain that you are not aware of
The pectoralis minor muscle is the “smaller sister” of the more massive and known pectoralis major muscle. It is not strange, but even a muscle of such a small size can cause serious problems. It is located under the pectoralis major muscle, departs from the 3rd, 4th and 5th ribs, passes laterally upwards and is attached to the coracoid process of the scapula.
Functions of the pectoralis minor muscle: stabilization of the scapula, as well as its lowering, pulling and turning down. When the scapula is in a fixed position, this muscle also takes part in the rise of the chest.
Having clarified the functions of pectoralis minor , we will understand what problems can be associated with it.
The condition of the pectoralis minor muscle and impaired posture
The pectoralis minor muscle is a rather significant factor in the formation of correct (or incorrect) posture. One of the functions of pectoralis minor is the pulling of the scapula - its movement forward, from the spine, and around the chest, which leads to stoop in the shoulders.
Unfortunately, a sedentary lifestyle predominates in the lives of most of us - we spend the lion's share of time at computers, driving, bending over the desktop in unnatural poses, when our shoulders are rounded and tilted forward, our back is hunched over. This situation over time inevitably leads to overstrain of the pectoralis minor muscle (the appearance of muscle nodes, or clamps).
Violations of posture - although a big, but not the only problem caused by overstrain of the pectoralis minor muscle. Therefore, below we consider the following reasons:
- what symptoms and problems appear with an overstrain of pectoralis minor ;
- what is the pectoralis minor muscle syndrome;
- how to get rid of pain caused by overstrain of the pectoralis minor muscle.
Tension of the pectoralis minor muscle: the starting point of serious disorders
Overloaded pectoralis 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 impediment syndrome .
In this case, a lack of space in the area between the humerus and the suprahumeral process (acromion) leads to pinching of the tendons of the supraspinatus muscle and 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 overstrain of the pectoralis minor muscle.
Such a lack of space can be directly associated with an overstressed pectoralis minor muscle due to the incline of the scapula forward and a decrease in the subacromial arch.
In this case, patients complain of :
- dull shoulder pain;
- increased pain when lifting the arm up;
- sleep problems as a result of pain, especially when lying on the affected side;
- the characteristic sound of a crunch or click while lowering the hand;
- limitation of joint mobility;
- weakness in the hand.
In addition to increasing the risk of pinching, the overstressed pectoralis minor muscle together with the anterior dentate muscle translates the articular fossa of the scapula in a more vertical position, which leads to increased abduction, rotation and pterygoid scapula.
Due to changes in the position of the scapula, the muscle that lifts 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 overstrain of the muscles of the neck and shoulders and the appearance of many trigger points in this area, which is typical for many working at the table (well, or on the couch, with a laptop on his knees).
Pain in the shoulder, numbness of the arm, tingling in the upper limbs, as well as trigger points of the muscles of the neck and back are the consequences of overstrain of the pectoralis minor muscle.
Minor pectoral muscle syndrome - when nerves and blood vessels suffer
In 50% of cases, it is the pectoralis minor muscle that is the root cause of the compression syndrome of the chest aperture (or simply the pectoralis minor syndrome ). What it is?
Syndrome of the pectoralis minor muscle is manifested by compression of nerves and blood vessels located in the front of the shoulder and chest - the brachial plexus, subclavian artery and vein. Pinched nerves and blood vessels are sure to make themselves felt, causing significant physical discomfort.
Symptoms of this syndrome vary depending on the location and degree of compression of the neurovascular bundle and can manifest themselves in the form of:
- pain throughout the arm - from the shoulder to the little finger;
- numbness, decreased sensitivity, tingling in the limbs;
- weakness in the hand;
- blanching of the upper limb;
- lowering the temperature of the hand;
- increased pain during movement.
As you can see, the pectoralis minor muscle, or rather, its overstrain, can cause problems covering the area of the shoulder joint, neck and arm. But this is only part of the whole picture: as a result of muscle compensation, which runs along the kinetic chain, the negative effect of overstrain of the pectoralis minor muscle can affect even the lower back and pelvic region.
How to relax pectoralis minor muscle: stretching and massage trigger points
The figures below show the location of trigger points of the pectoralis minor muscle and the pattern of reflected pain when these points are clicked:
Fortunately, the pectoralis minor muscle responds well to therapy - massage and / or stretching. However, it is worth noting that it is not so simple to cope with the overstressed pectoral muscle on our own, we recommend either contacting a specialist (which is certainly better), or asking a friend / spouse / relative for help.
Stretching to eliminate trigger points of the pectoralis minor muscle:
- Lie on a cylindrical object (a special roller or a tightly twisted blanket or towel) so that it is on the line of the spine. In this position, lower your shoulders down in the direction of the floor, relax, feel relaxation in the front of the shoulder and upper chest. At the same time, hands can be placed along the body, and then parted at an angle of 80, 120 and 160 degrees.
- Sit on the floor and ask an assistant to stand behind you. Pull both hands back and ask your assistant to gently, smoothly and with little force, pull your hands even further.
Massage of trigger points of the pectoralis minor muscle: to perform massage of the pectoralis minor muscle, it is better to consult a specialist who can correctly determine the location of trigger points and effectively act on them. At home, massage can be performed using a tennis ball in the supine position (laying the ball on the floor) or standing (holding the ball between the wall and the pectoralis minor muscle) as in the pictures:
In addition to stretching and massages, try to perform exercises aimed at strengthening the antagonist muscles of the pectoralis minor muscle. Focus on the middle and lower parts of the trapezius muscle, the rhomboid, pay attention to the anterior dentate, infraspinatus, and also the posterior deltas.
The best way to deal with problems caused by overstrain of the pectoralis minor muscle is to prevent them - proper posture and maintaining the tone of all the muscles of the body - a guarantee not only of a beautiful figure, but also of good health.