How To Fix A Tight Pec Minor

“Pec minor” is short for pectoralis minor. It’s the part of your pecs that very few people think about until it starts wreaking havoc on your shoulders, neck, upper back, or elbow. Yes, it can have effects everywhere and you can read about Pec Minor Tightness here.

What is a Pec Minor?

The pec minor is a small pectoral muscle that doesn’t get much glory. In fact it’s mostly known for messing you up. This is no fault of the pec minor though, it has good intentions, as you’ll see in the next section. For starters, here’s a pic of your pec minor (and some creepy eyeballs).

tight pec minor detail image
the doctors of physical therapy back pain book cover


How To Stop Shoulder Pain Without Risking Surgery & While Staying Active

The pec minor is the muscle highlighted in orange. See how it attaches to the bone highlighted in green? That bone is actually your shoulder blade, it sits on your back. When the pec minor gets tight it pulls that bone downward and forward. This is why you may see someone’s shoulder blades poking out of their back. We call that “winging” and it certainly won’t help you fly. In fact, when this happens, it creates a lot of instability in the shoulder area and makes it more difficult to lift heavy objects, and even makes it more difficult to lift your arms. In response to this difficulty your body starts using other muscles to lift your arms, like your upper traps (the big muscles that attach your shoulders to your neck). Now, if you think about how many people in your life, maybe even you, have reported “carrying their stress” in their lower neck and upper shoulder area, you can start to see the picture.

If this is sounding familiar you may find it helpful to read about exercises for shoulder health.

The “stress” that people carry in this area is felt because they are always over-using their upper traps to do everything. In response to the overuse, their upper traps are constantly tight, fatigued, and sore. Now that we’ve hopefully had a lightbulb moment, let’s move on to why your pec minor gets tight.

Why Someone Gets A Tight Pec Minor

This concept is simple to understand when you understand that muscles do not have a mind of their own. Muscles tighten and relax as a response. There are two primary ways that a tight muscle becomes tight.

Way #1: The person uses their pecs a lot more than the muscles on the back of their shoulders. When someone uses a muscle a lot, then it gets stronger, even when it’s relaxed. This creates an imbalance in how strong the pecs are at rest, and they eventually pull the shoulders forward. This doesn’t mean that this person has to be doing a lot of pushups or bench press. In fact, unless someone works out their back muscles, most of our life is spent with our arms out in front of us, so developing this imbalance is as easy as sitting at a desk all day long.

Way #2: The person has a weak rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers. Many people who do exercise, neglect to train the rotator cuff muscles and the muscles that keep the shoulder blade firmly glued to your back. It’s not their fault. Most of our life we’re chained to desks, at least throughout school, and for many people for work. So we gradually adopt lazier forms of movement, taking the path of least resistance. Eventually stabilizing muscles weaken. When the body feels this weakness it calls in other muscles to attempt to stabilize. The body does not know that calling in the pec minor may result in worse movement patterns and potential injury, it just wants to feel stable and accomplish the task at hand.

Now that we understand what causes someone to get a tight pec minor, let’s move on to how to fix it. For your convenience we have also put together a 3 exercise PDF for you. It’s that green one you can download at the top of the page.

How To Fix A Tight Pec Minor

The key to fixing a tight pec minor is being a good detective. For starters, out of the two reasons listed above, why do you think your pec minor is tight?

If you think it’s way #1, you need to train your back muscles in addition to the pain relieving strategies we outline here in our 4 tips for shoulder pain post.

If you think it’s way #2, you’ll want to check out our 4 Great Shoulder Health Exercises post.

Either direction you choose, you’ll want to make sure you download our PDF as well by filling out your info in the form below and we’ll email it to you.

Have shoulder pain and wondering why you can’t seem to find a solution? If you’d like to know more about a potential solution for shoulder pain you can read more here. 

Try these things for a couple of weeks and you’ll definitely start feeling dramatic improvement, but you have to be consistent. If you’d like help from a professional in Scottsdale so that you can get back in the game quickly, be sure to give us a call at 480-482-0651 and we can set you up with one of our shoulder experts.

If you’re ready to get rid of this pesky problem for good click here to fill out a contact form and let us know how we can help.

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