A pectoralis minor that harbors trigger points may be, among others, responsible for pain at the front of your shoulder and your chest.
Although it is the “little brother” of the pectoralis major, it has a different function as you will learn soon.
When your pectoralis minor contains trigger points, it can give you pain right at the location of these spots and send it to other, seemingly unrelated areas of your body.
The main pain zone of the pectoralis minor is the front of your shoulder, but you might also experience a radiating pain into your chest and all the way down your inner arm.
Furthermore, it is possible that this muscle triggers pain in your palm – not shown in the picture – and in your 3rd to 5th finger.
The pectoralis can cause the following pains
The darker the red in the picture, the more common it is to experience pain in the respective area when trigger points are present in your pectoralis minor.
One of the functions of the pectoralis is to pull the shoulder blade forward, downward and inward.
So, what might happen if it is tight or contains trigger points and you spread your arm to the side and bring it backwards?
The movement will be limited or even painful because the shoulder blade moves a little upwards and then backwards, and thus pulls on the pectoralis minor.
The muscle needs to elongate and if it cannot or “does not want to” – because the stretch will put even more tension on the tight muscle – it can give you pain.
When the muscles contracts, it pulls the shoulder blade downward, forward and inward towards the ribs.
Furthermore, it helps to stabilize the shoulder. It prevents the shoulder blade from being pushed backwards – for example while walking on crutches – .
Paradoxical breathing – mainly chest breathing – and poor posture – rounded shoulders – can activate trigger points in the pectoralis minor.
In the first case it permanently needs to perform work it was not designed for, and in the second case its fibers get shortened over a long period of time.
This tightens up the muscle.
On the other hand, if the muscle needs to works hard – stabilizing the shoulder while walking on crutches or while doing pushups – it is prone to develop trigger points, especially if you are not used to that kind of work.
The pectoralis minor lies deep to the pectoralis major, so you will have a hard time feeling it.
But as you can massage it anyway with the right instructions, we will not bother with that.
Still, it´s good to have an idea where it is located, which is why I will show you how to palpate its origin.
Massaging it with the Trigger Fairy or a ball saves your hands from unnecessary strain.
With the Fairy you can work the muscle while sitting and make use of its small head to really get on to the tiny knots in the muscle.
With a ball you can exert a lot of pressure, which sometimes is needed to release the muscle.
Still, you need a blank space at a wall and need to do some “massage gymnastics” in order to get the ball on the muscle.
Last but not least, there are your hands. Brilliant and precise, yet delicate massage tools.
As always, I recommend saving them whenever possible and using other tools for massage.
Most of you just don´t have strong enough hands to withstand the stress of massage over time.
Still, I will show you all three possibilities.
Note: For massage, inspect the 5 – 8 centimeters below your coracoid process.
I recommend holding the Trigger Fairy with one or two hands and to relax the shoulder at the side of your body that you are massaging.
Now you can choose between precise massage strokes and the pressure-motion technique.
With the massage ball you will work the same area as with the Fairy.
You can also use the same massage techniques.
That means you can roll the ball over the muscle, or you can pressurize the muscle and then make it move by moving your shoulder and arm, respectively.
Precise massage strokes
Last but not least there is the possibility to massage the muscle with your hands.
Now inspect the area below and search for tight and tender muscle tissue.
To do so, form your hand like a shovel and pressurize the tissue with your fingertips
Massage each point with slow and short massage strokes.