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

Self Myofascial Release of the Shoulder: Deltoid

The deltoid muscle, capping the shoulder joint, is made up of three parts.  There is an anterior (front) part, lateral (middle) part and posterior (back) part.  It is used in all forms of movement of the shoulder

Action of the deltoid

The anterior deltoid flexes the shoulder forward while the posterior deltoid extends the shoulder.  The middle portion abducts the arm out to the side; assisted by the other two portions.

At least one part of the deltoid muscle is involved when performing shoulder press, pushups, bench press, chin ups and rowing activities.

Causes of pain in the deltoid

The deltoid can be a source of pain as a result of trauma or from over exertion. When experiencing pain into the shoulder the deltoid muscle is not the only possible cause of pain.  Possible causes include rotator cuff tears,biceps tendonitis, subdeltoid bursitis, shoulder impingement syndrome, and C5 radiculopathy.

How to release the deltoid

If all other possible causes of pain in the shoulder have been ruled out by a professional you may gain a benefit by just finding the tender point and holding pressure on it but I like to add a stretch to it. 

Anterior portion

The anterior deltoid is found on the front side of the shoulder.  Its main action is to aid in flexing the shoulder forwards. It originates on the collar bone and attaches onto the outer portion of the upper arm along with the other parts of the deltoid.  Underneath the anterior deltoid is the long head of the biceps tendon. When treating this muscle you might end up aggravating the tendon.

Standing facing a wall. Place the ball on the anterior deltoid.  Have your arm out to the side. Rotate your shoulder inwards so your palm faces outwards and then bend the elbow. Pin the muscle down and then rotate your body away from the shoulder. This helps take the stretch off the biceps muscle. 

Middle portion

The middle portion originates on the shoulder blade. It is active when lifting the arm out to the side (abduction). To stretch it you will want to adduct the arm. Place the ball on the wall and press the middle deltoid into the ball.  Take your arm and reach behind your back. Use your other hand to pull the hand further across the body and down towards your back pocket.

Posterior Portion

The posterior portion also originates on the shoulder blade. It is active in extending the arm backwards. To stretch you’ll have to flex the shoulder forwards. In this case you’ll be horizontally flexing or horizontally adducting the shoulder across the body

Facing away from the wall,  with your arm at shoulder height, place the ball between the wall and the muscle.  Rotate your body away from the wall. Use your other hand to help pull the elbow away from the wall.

Dr Notley

Winnipeg chiropractor and athletic therapist

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