Pec minor – a small but very important muscle!
If you have shoulder issues of any kind – from shoulder pain, rotator cuff or shoulder mobility issues (including partially frozen shoulders or seriously forward rotated shoulders) then this technique should be at the top of your list for self-help techniques.
If you have breathing or rib issues this could be related as well.
Pec minor is actually somewhat difficult to get into. Pec major and the clavipectoral fascia sit on top of it, and when your arm is resting or hanging at your side you can’t get into it at all. In order to get at this triple headed small muscle and its fascia you’ll need to raise your arm and target a very specific spot for release. (I show you exactly how in the video).
To be clear, what we’re actually going after here is the fascial adhesion that can occur between pec minor and pec major (specifically the , the clavipectoral fascia and possibly coracobrachilais as well.
For such a small muscle, pec minor plays a critical role in shoulder joint, scapular/rotator cuff and rib health.
From the picture to the left you can see how (because of its attachment at the coracoid process of the scapula), if shortened or adhesed, pec minor can pull both the shoulder joint and the scapula into forward rotation, and/or elevate the ribs. Someone who, later in life, has a serious hunch or “wings” showing in the upper back – you can bet they have a very short, tight, adhesed pec minor (in addition to probably a lot of other fascial tightness in the front as well).
If you’re someone who has ribs “go out” a lot, I would instantly suspect ridiculously tight pec minor tissue. This would not be the thing itself that makes a rib go out, it just sets you up and makes it much more likely. This has been true of my clients who play lacrosse, train jiu jitsu or those who have experienced a traumatic fall or impact such as a car accident, falling onto a shoulder or their head while snowboarding etc.
How to get the most out of this technique:
- You’ll need a lacrosse ball for this one. I do NOT recommend a tennis ball, softball, golf ball or really any other ball. This particular area is SO TRICKY to get into in a way that you can hold the position, so you’ll need the grip or stickiness of the lacrosse ball to make it work.
- Spend however long you need to get the right spot! This technique will be almost useless (for its intended purpose anyway) if you don’t successfully find pec minor. It can be incredibly tricky to nail. Watch the video as many times as you need to get it right.
- Look for (or FEEL for) a slight “THUMP” that would indicate an adhesion between pec minor and pec major.
- MOVE SLOOOOOOOWLY. Slowly. Very very slowly.
- Did I say move SLOWLY? Haha. If you move too fast on this one you’ll pop off of pec minor in half a second and not even know it.
- There are probably only 2-3 spots MAX you can find and release here. Most people probably only have two spots worth doing.
- Spend 20-30 seconds on each spot WHEN YOU GET IT RIGHT. If it takes 10 seconds at a time to find and re-find a good spot, that’s ok.
- Move your arm after!
- Notice what changed, if anything.
- Obviously, if you have a serious impingement, mobility issue or pain present, this technique alone probably isn’t going to eliminate it. Use the search function on this website to find other techniques for your particular issue, or leave a comment with your questions.