Where Are the Pectoral Muscles?
At Entegra Health Parkville, a common Remedial Massage complaint involving the upper thoracic area, includes the Pectoral muscles. The Pectoral muscles, or ‘Pecs’ comprise four muscles: Pec Major; Pec Minor; Serratus Anterior and Subclavius. The largest, Pec Major, covers the majority of the superficial area in front of the upper chest. It has two parts which attach medially from the sternum and clavicle, and laterally to the humerus (large arm bone). Pec minor is located deep to the Pec Major muscle and attaches to the ribs (intercostal muscles). The Serratus Anterior muscles are located lower, and laterally to the ribs; whilst the Subclavius muscle is situated within the armpit.
What Are Their Functions?
Collectively, the primary functions of the Pec muscles include rotation, flexion and extension of the humerus (arms). They also support actions requiring movements of the scapula/shoulder, and due to their association with the ribs, also assist overall respiration (breathing). The Pec muscles function in conjunction with the Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapulae and Rhomboid muscles to support these functions.
What Tension Related Problems Can Occur Here?
Tension commonly associated with the Pec muscles is often related to muscle weakness attributed to poor posture concerns involving muscles in the upper thoracic (Rhomboid muscles) resulting in upper back pain and discomfort. Common postural concerns involving the pec muscles include rounded shoulders, contributing to a forward neck (poking forward) position also known as a ‘Kyphotic’ posture position.
In addition, as the Pec muscles function in conjunction with the Rhomboid muscles to stabilise the scapula anteriorly and inferiorly, injury or weakness in the Pec muscles may also contribute to reduced stability of the scapula, and consequently weight lifting/bearing abilities and overall shoulder function and range of motion in general.
How Can I Reduce Muscular Tension in This Area? | Chest Stretch
At Entegra Health Parkville, tension related to the upper thoracic, and consequently neck and shoulder area, often involves tension (shortening) of the Pec muscles. This is commonly the result of over extension of the upper thoracic muscles and/or overuse of the Pec muscles, often due to actions requiring extension of the arms for prolonged periods. Tension in the Pec muscles effectively contributes to a ‘rounding’ of the shoulders due to the tight muscles pulling the shoulders around and forward.
This common postural compensation pattern is also often associated with weakness in the Rhomboid muscles, and is often related to a desk based work position, device use and/or sitting positions for prolonged periods of time.
The following self management options are recommended to effectively reduce muscular tension of the pec muscles between Remedial Massage treatments:
Many simple stretches exist to effectively lengthen and reduce tension in the Pectoral muscles of the chest, requiring little equipment other than a wall or doorframe (see Entegra Health stretch library). Stretching the pecs also assists in the reduction of tension in the Rhomboid muscles, located posteriorly in the upper thoracic (back) area.
Strengthening the pec muscles is important to effectively support stabilization of the scapula, shoulders, and functions of the arms. Exercises to strengthen the pec muscles include push-ups, and hand-held weights, including weighted lateral flys. The latter provides the dual benefit of strengthening the bicep muscles, and muscles supporting the scapula (Rhomboid and Teres muscles).
For further information regarding Remedial Massage, or treatment options, please contact us via email. Access to free online resources including stretch and exercise video resources can also be found on our website.