Self Myofascial Release of the Pecs

The pec major muscle is the large muscle that makes up the musculature of  chest. It has multiple sites of attachment; the collar bone, the sternum and the cartilage of the ribs. Interestingly enough the pect major also blends into the external oblique and sometimes the rectus abdominus. From these sites of attachments the muscle fibers cross the shoulder joint and attach onto the humerus (upper arm).

Due to the pec major having multiple sites of attachment there are several directions of movement that the pec major is involved in. It can have an effect on several joints but mostly the shoulder joint.  Pec major helps to depress the shoulder girdle, aids in flexing the shoulder, adducting the shoulder and internally rotating the shoulder. The muscle is involved in pressing exercises, push ups, cable cross overs, pull downs, and stabilizing the shoulder girdle during gymnastic ring work. 

When this muscle is a problem we often see a rounded forward posture and as a result the muscles between the shoulders blades become over worked.

When pec major is a problem you may experience chest/breast pain, shoulder pain and even pain down the medial arm.  When pain occurs on the left side it may be confused with angina pain.

So how can you help yourself?

Method of releasing the pec major

Upper portion

To stretch the upper portion of the pec major you will be extending the shoulder backwards. Place a ball over the upper portion, near the collar bone, and then extend your arm backwards behind you. Feel the stretch and hold for your desired amount of time

Middle portion

Place the ball over a tender spot in the middle portion of the pec major. With your arm out in front of you at around shoulder height move your arm out to the side.

Another way you can hit the middle portion of pec major is by placing your hand on the wall in a one handed wall push up position. Then, as you you press the ball into your chest, turn your body away from the wall.

Bottom/lateral portion

The lateral portion of pec major is the outer edge of the pec major. After placing the ball over this region reach up over head and seek out the stretch you need.

Dr Notley

Winnipeg chiropractor and athletic therapist

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