Teres Minor Muscle: Pain & Trigger Points

Myofascial problems in the teres minor muscle can mimic bursitis and shoulder pain.

The teres minor is a small muscle that teams up with three other muscles – infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis – to form the rotator cuff.

Common people that suffer are the ones that also suffer from problems in the infraspinatus. These include, but are not limited to

  • Rock Climbers
  • Volleyball players
  • Handball players
  • Baseball players
  • Swimmers
  • Painters

1. Pain Patterns & Symptoms

1.1 Pain patterns

Trigger points in the teres minor can trigger pain right at their location, but also refer pain to other, more distant parts of the body.

If the teres minor contains active trigger points, it will mainly trigger pain at the side of the shoulder. Besides that, pain can radiate slightly into the backside of the arm.

The darker the red, the likelier it is to feel pain in the respective area when the teres minor contains active trigger points.

1.2 Impaired or painful movements

As this muscle supports the infraspinatus you will understand that trigger points or excessive muscle tension in this muscle will affect the same movements.

If you have not read about the infraspinatus, you can do so now by clicking here.

In general, the movements that will cause pain or that may be impaired are the ones where you rotate the shoulder outwards/laterally and reach backwards – like putting on your jacket -.

2. Attachment Points of the Teres Minor Muscle

The teres minor muscle runs from the lateral border of the shoulder blade to the tuberculum majus of the humerus – the upper arm bone –.

The X in the picture shows the area where trigger points often develop in this muscle.

3. Teres Minor Muscle: Function

The teres minor muscle can be regarded as the little co – worker of the infraspinatus.

It lies right next to it and has similar attachment points. As you can imagine, this means that they have the same function.

It supports the infraspinatus with the outward/lateral rotation of the shoulder.

It also helps to stabilize the shoulder joint during movement. This means it keeps the head of your humerus in its socket.

4. Teres Minor: Trigger Point Activation

Activities that overload this muscle and activate trigger points are the same as the ones that activate trigger points in the infraspinatus.

I recommend having a look at the infraspinatus anyway as problems in the teres minor rarely occur alone but rather in combination with other muscles of your shoulder joint that have similar functions.

Still, I want to give you one example for how you might have overworked the teres minor – of course this example also accounts for the infraspinatus -.

Forcefully throwing a ball, like you do it in Handball or Baseball, might lead to trigger points in this muscle.

The fast and repetitive extension and outward rotation of the shoulder – reaching high and behind – every time stresses the muscle. Over time this can be just too much.

5. Teres Minor Muscl: Palpation


To locate the teres minor, reach under your arm pit and feel the lateral border of your shoulder blade.


Place your fingers on the upper third of this border. Then rotate your shoulder outwards.

By doing so you can feel a small muscle contracting.

If you do not feel it right away, do not stress. You may be new to locating muscles at your body.

With some practice you will get better and better at it. Just take your time.

Massage yourself daily until your pains are gone.

6. Self-massage

To massage the teres minor I recommend using a massage ball.

  • Place the ball on the muscle and on the outer edge/border of your shoulder blade, respectively.
  • Then bend your knees and lean against a wall.
  • Slowly roll over the muscle and search for tender muscle tissue.
  • Massage each painful spot with a couple of rolling motions.

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  • Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print
  • Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Print
  • Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Print.
  • Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print