It is estimated that a large percentage of the population works at a desk for 8 hours a day. That means that for 8 hours a day we are sitting in a hunched and crouched position with an internally rotated shoulder, usually with one side more predominant than the other.
As a therapist and personal trainer, one of the most common themes I see coming into my clinic are neck and shoulder problems cause by poor posture. One of the main muscles that are often contracted and forced into a tight position is the Pectoralis Minor muscle.
You may be already aware of the Pectoralis Major muscle, or ‘pecs’, but this little brother version is situated in the upper part of the chest and slides underneath the larger pec muscles. As you can see in the picture, the muscles originates at the lateral margins of the 3rd, 4th and 5th ribs, and is attached to the shoulder blade at the coracoid process.
So know we know why this muscles is so problematic in the rounded shoulder posture, how do we fix it?
Well there are some simple ways to fix this and the most simple and easy to apply anywhere is a stretch using a door frame or fixed flat surface that can make the hand or elbow a lever to force the shoulder away from the rib cage.
As you can see from this demonstration by the lovely Cecilia, it is about creating space and opening in the muscle. As everyone’s body is slightly different it is also handy to change the angle and your body position until you find the sweet spot in the stretch. Once you find that spot stay there for 30 seconds to a minute, as the muscle will want to contract for 30 seconds until it feels safe to let go and go into stretch. Between 30 seconds and a minute is where the stretch will be felt.
As always stretching is best to be done with warmer muscles, after a massage or treatment and before bed.
Remember the key to improving your posture is to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak and long muscles. Today’s focus was a short and tight muscle.