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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

Meet Your Muscles: Pectoral Muscles

Meet Your Muscles: Pectoral Muscles

Where are they?

Commonly known as the "Pecs", the pectoral muscles are located in the chest. There are actually 4 muscles that make up this muscle group: the Pectoralis Major, the Pectoralis Minor, the Subclavius Muscle, and the Serratus Anterior.

What do they do?

These muscles are basically the connectors of the arms to the chest and help control the movements of the shoulders and arms. Each muscle has it's own function. The Pectoralis Major moves and rotates the upper arm. The Pectoralis Minor helps to stabilize the scapula - the large bone that makes up the shoulder located in the back. The Subclavius muscle creates the armpit and helps rotate the shoulder forward and press it down. Finally, the Serratus Anterior moves the shoulder and scapula forward when the arm reaches in front of you.

What makes them hurt?

Meet Your Muscles: Pectoral Muscles

Most of the time if the pectoral muscles hurt, it is from overuse or injury sustained while the muscles are being used, most frequently by lifting something heavy. Depending on what caused the issue and which muscle is involved, pain can come form something as minor as a strain to a major tear. When an injury occurs, a "pop" will often be heard or felt. Pain in the chest and/or shoulders especially when moving or breathing heavily can signal an issue in the pecs, as well as pain or numbness in the shoulder or arm.

Meet Your Muscles: Pectoral Muscles

How can massage help?

If there is a strain or tear in the muscle, massage should not be the first thing that is done. Once it is confirmed that a tear is healing, massage can be used to combine with stretching to keep the muscle flexible and soft while healing and prevent tightness from a buildup of scar tissue. If the pain is simple soreness from casual overuse, massage can be used to flush lactic acid and keep the muscles long and healthy.

What can I do besides massage to help them?

Be very aware when lifting or using the arms and shoulders to be sure that proper alignment and posture as well as appropriate weight to avoid injury. If sore, heat and ice can be used to relieve the pain. If a tear or strain is present, rest is the best thing to help pain.

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