Bridge to Health Blog
Bridge to Health Blog

Pectoralis Minor

Written by Mathieu Rossano   Posted in:Osteopathy   July 3, 2017

Pectoralis Minor
You may remember that in the first instalment of the “muscle in focus” series, we featured a key postural muscle, the Ilio-Psoas, describing its modern fate as we sit all day long at a desk, and the ravages this entails in terms of lower back, pelvic and hip pain.

Another muscle that provides a telling story of the “disconnect” between original design and current use is the pectoralis minor, a small but highly elegant, fan-shaped muscle spreading from the front of the shoulder blade to spread out obliquely onto the third, fourth and fifth ribs.

Anatomy of the Pectoralis Minor Muscle

Again quite revealingly, most anatomy sources dwell only on the main function of that muscle, which is to stabilise the relationship between the shoulder blade and rib cage, and omit its more primitive (but useful) role of assisting the effective throwing of a spear or javelin.

The trouble is that setting aside the needs of a small community of top javelin athletes (or dog owners throwing balls for their dogs in the park…), only few of us roam around these days throwing spears at woolly mammoths, but virtually all of us spend most of our time hunched over less woolly key boards, with arguably devastating consequences.

Evolution or Degeneration?

In this “protracted” position, the pectoralis muscle shortens chronically, reinforcing the hunched posture.  Amongst many other issues, three directly related musculo-skeletal  consequences are:

·         The pulling forward out of functional alignment of another shoulder muscle (the supraspinatus)
·         The exaggeration of the dorsal “hunched” curvature, the passive stretching of back muscles such as the trapezius and rhomboids and stress placed on the ribs in their relationship with the dorsal vertebra of the spine
·         The over-extension of the neck, entailing the shortening of its musculature and the compression of its spinal vertebra

All of which engender the very frequent shoulder mid-back and neck injuries that we see daily in our clinic, and which many of our patients are rather indignant about, since as they put it: “I don’t understand, I didn’t do anything!” (err… you’ve just said it!)

So what can be done to manage this scenario?

Well the first thing to encourage you to do is ensure you spend less time “just seated” and have a fidgeting strategy during the working day! -

When seated, endeavour to do our proposed desk-seated exercises at very regular intervals (ideally every 2-3 hours) - password is flex – or this exercise whenever meeting a doorway at work: (again the password is flex)

At home, consider doing this pleasant and relaxing exercise on a daily basis: (the password is still flex!)

If you have any questions or wish to consult us about the causes of back or pelvic pain, please email us at or ring us on 01985 2000 50

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