If you look down at your phone all day, work on a computer, have small children and carry them frequently, have forward head posture or forward rotated shoulders etc, then this is something you will want to include in a weekly fascial health routine.
You will need a lacrosse ball for these two techniques.
Release your pecs for more upper body freedom!While we will certainly grab and stretch pec major in this technique, it is really THE FASCIA in and around pec minor that we want to target.
Pec minor attaches to the 3rd, 4th and 5th ribs and draws the scapula forward and down, and elevates the ribs if the origin and insertion are reversed.
The primary actions of this muscle include the stabilization, depression, abduction or protraction, upward tilt, and downward rotation of the scapula. When the ribs are immobilized, this muscle brings the scapula forward, and when the scapula is fixed, it lifts up the rib cage. (Excerpt from healthline.com)
As you can see it plays a huge role in shoulder mobility. When overly tight it contributes to forward head posture, forward rotated shoulders and the pain patterns that arise from this (which include neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches etc).
These techniques can help address:
- Shoulder pain
- Rotator cuff issues
- Forward head posture
- Forward rotated shoulders
- Headaches, if they are tension related
- Neck Pain
- TMJ pain
I don’t have a lot to add here that isn’t in the video, except this: for almost ALL of the above issues, you certainly want to address the chest (pec minor especially), but most require additional techniques for the best result. So be sure to check out this post on the single BEST technique to relieve upper body pain, as well as the two best techniques to relieve pain between the shoulder blades.
Make sure to check out the most AWESOME neck release EVER. It perfectly mimics what I do with my private clients and all of you with neck pain will LOVE this one…it “hurts so good” and gives instant relief! If you have TMJ pain, I have techniques coming for those as well in a month or so.
Also, something important to consider: if you are putting yourself into a forward head posture every day by being on a computer, your phone or anything else like this, chances are your upper back muscles are in fact overstretched and weak. To get the absolute best results, you’ll want to put your computer and phone at eye level whenever possible, and “posture up” by purposefully bringing your shoulders back and down and gently squeezing your rhomboids (the muscles between your shoulder blades). Though it may seem counter-intuitive, this will actually bring relief to the tension in the upper and mid back.
The more you can correct the “bad” habits that are the real cause of fascial restrictions and mobility issues the better!
About the PNF stretch:
In the video I show you how to perform a basic PNF stretch for pec minor. PNF stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. Using muscle contraction and relaxation helps create a better stretch that actually lasts (versus static stretching) and is a lot easier on the body than static stretching (in my opinion).
Here are some tips to remember:
- Make sure you don’t take the stretch farther than your body will allow. You should feel a nice amount of tension in that entire arm, but nothing should hurt or feel in danger, especially your shoulder joint. I am hyper-mobile, so please don’t base your stretch on how far back my arm can go in the video!
- Make sure when you push back into the pole (engaging the pec muscles) that you’re only using about 20-40% strength. You DO NOT want to use your full strength.
- Hold the contraction for 3 SECONDS, then come out of the stretch.
- Every time you go back into the stretch AFTER the contract/relax, take it as far as you need to in order to find that same degree of tension but WITHOUT hurting anything or it feeling like you’re overstretching. You should be able to go farther each time.
- After 3 ROUNDS of relax/contract/stretch, hold the last stretch for a good 20-30 seconds.
I always like to at least see how my front deltoid is feeling if I’m already going into the pecs. To be totally clear, we’re going after the fascial junction where the middle or medial deltoid meets the anterior deltoid. (We will not be addressing the posterior deltoid here).
If this area is sore, tender, and/or feels ropy/tight, then it could probably use some release. If it feels supple, soft and/or does NOT hurt when compression is applied with the lacrosse ball…there is no need to do perform the release.
Get the MOST out of these techniques:
- As always, remember your goal is to PIN a piece of fascia and PULL it in as many directions as possible, so DO NOT just roll the ball around the muscle in a massage-like manner with a loose hanging arm (which won’t do a whole lot in terms of releasing the fascia…if it feels good to you then by all means include the rolling/massaging AT THE END)
- Hold the lacrosse ball with one hand to keep it firmly in place while you move the opposite arm
- Definitely hunt out the BEST spot before moving. The best spot will feel the most tender, sore and/or ropy/tight
- Focus on getting pec minor by going to and past 45 degrees from the chest with the arm
- If you have severely forward rotated shoulders or forward head posture, definitely do the PNF stretch for the chest before using the lacrosse ball
- I would try performing the techniques for about 2-3 minutes per side, per muscle group (pec and deltoid). If it takes you longer to find the right spots then it may take longer than this, but once you have it down you don’t need to do this forever, just a few minutes is good.
- Do this daily if you have seriously forward rotated shoulders and/or something like whiplash or neck pain, until the pain disappears and/or the mobility is restored in your shoulders.
- And definitely add any of my other upper body techniques depending on what you’re targeting! This will dramatically increase your results
What do you think of these techniques? I’d love to hear from you!