Pec Major is the top most muscle on your chest. It starts at inner edge of the collar bone, down the breast bone across to the bone in your upper arm. It allows us to move our arm across our body, turn our arm inwards and forwards.
Pec Minor sits under Pec Major and attaches to the third to fifth rib (in some people it attaches to the second rib) and the tip of the shoulder blade. This muscle allows the shoulder blade to move upwards or raises ribs.
Tightness and trigger points through these muscles can cause pain through the front of the chest, shoulder and arm in to the middle and ring finger. Because it has such a broad referral pattern, similar to many heart complaints, your Massage Therapist may request clearance from your doctor before proceeding with the massage.
Many people have tight pectoral muscles because we spend most of our day with our arms out front doing what we do (eg typing, building, massaging). Because we hold ourselves in this position of long periods of time, the muscles develop trigger points (a point in a taut band of muscle that is extremely tender and refers or radiates pain in a characteristic pattern).
If the area requires treatment, your Massage Therapist will ask for permission first and will usually restricted the massage to the upper fibers of the muscle only. The massage will consist of compression of the muscle from the shoulder to chest, stripping of the muscle fibers, trigger point therapy and stretching. The treatment can be very painful, so it is important to keep your Massage Therapist informed as to the amount of pressure that is comfortable for you or if you are feeling pins and needles in the arm or hand at any time.
Basic Clinical Massage Therapy, 2003.
Here are two easy stretches to help loosen this muscle between massage treatments.
Shoulder Back Press
While sitting or standing, clasp hands behind your neck
Slowly press elbows back, but make sure not to push or pull on your neck
This exercise is great for forward slumping shoulders
While standing, clasp your hands behind your back
Lift your hands upwards