What You Need to Know About Your Pec Minor, Posture, and Pain

By April 23, 2018Mobility and Yoga
Reading Time: 3 minutes

In two previous posts, I talked about mobility techniques for your forearms and upper back to help relieve chronic pain connected to the way you sit. Today, we’re going to take it one step further —  we’re going to discuss the muscles in your chest and how they’re overcompensating for your poor posture.

The pec minor is a muscle in your chest — the little brother to pec major. You can see the pec minor in red in the image below (the blue is your shoulder blade). The primary function of the pec minor is to help rotate the shoulder forward and down. This is where the rub is, so to speak.

What You Need to Know About Your Pec Minor, Posture, and Pain

Most people round their shoulders and slump forward when sitting at a desk, in the car, on the couch, etc. This position turns on the pec minor to help support the shoulder. This is helpful under certain circumstances — such as lifting a heavy object, where the pec minor is helping to stabilize the shoulder.

This activation of the pec minor isn’t helpful when you spend eight-plus hours of your day sitting with poor posture. After years of this, your body begins to adapt to this position since you’re spending so much time here. This results in a permanently shortened pec minor. And the longer this goes on, the harder this harmful posture becomes to correct.

Poor posture involving the pec minor can contribute to the following dysfunctions:

  • Chest pain along with burning and stabbing sensations
  • Pain in the front of the shoulder
  • Pain in between the shoulder blades in the upper back
  • Pain and/or numbness through the inner arm, inside of elbow, wrist, hand, and ring and pinky fingers
  • Rounded-shoulder posture as the pec minor pulls the shoulder forward
  • Difficulty reaching forward and upward
  • Depressed shoulder girdle and winging of the scapula

These dysfunctions can infringe on or limit a lot of the daily activities we perform or even just the simple act of relaxing or sleeping.

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I myself had a particularly tight pec minor due to an injury from training. My posture had been compromised due to the injury and this resulted in excessive tightness of the muscles in my chest, shoulders, and upper back. Before the problem was corrected, I would wake up with the ring and pinky fingers on both my hands having gone completely numb, and I also experienced soreness and severe stiffness in my left shoulder. It took over a year of consistent focus on mobility and correcting my posture to rectify this situation.

If you experience any of these symptoms, then looking at the state of your pec minor is a good starting point. In the video, I explain a technique I used to improve the mobility of my pec minor. I still use this technique to this day to maintain the quality of movement I have in my pec minor and shoulder.

Pec minor graphic by Anatomography (Anatomography (setteing page of this image.)) [CC BY-SA 2.1 jp], via Wikimedia Commons.
Jeff Baker
Jeff Baker loves what he does — that’s the simple answer to why he became a coach. He gets to show up each day to work with wonderful coaches, watching his clients grow and prosper with new strength and health. Coaching allows Jeff to combine his enthusiasm for health and fitness with his love for teaching and opening people up to new experiences and possibilities.

As part of the team at The Whole Life Challenge, his goals are to endow our clients with a love for challenges and accomplishing goals. Jeff wants them to appreciate the perseverance it takes to achieve something of meaning and the feeling of accomplishment once they’ve done so.

Athletics and strength have always been a part of Jeff’s life. He has spent almost thirty years playing soccer and, in that time, put a lot of effort into developing his speed and strength, both on and off the field. When Jeff found CrossFit, he was working down the street from a small gym that was just about to open. Discovering CrossFit and beginning his career as a coach was a turning point in Jeff’s life he never saw coming, but it has been one of the best things to ever happen to him.

Jeff continues to derive a great deal of enjoyment in helping people achieve a better quality of life through health, wellness, and the community he works in. As Ghandi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Eight years ago, Jeff found out just how true that can be.
  • Kat Kamp

    Thanks, I was wondering if I was dying from heart problems but this actually explains it. 🤣

    • Jeff Baker

      That’s great news Kat. I’m glad to hear it wasn’t a hear condition. It sounds like your pec minor must’ve been really tight to result in that kind of pain. Did the exercise in the video help?

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