Pec Stretch – Osteopath Dr. Jacqueline Roy discusses the Pectorals muscles
Getting back into a regular routine after the Summer holidays is always hard, especially sitting at a desk for 8 hours after a period of rest! So we thought we’d do a blog on the pec muscles and and a great pec stretch.
Firstly, What are the Pectoral muscles?
The Pec muscles (Pectoralis Major and Minor) lie on your chest beneath your breast tissue. Pectoralis Major is a broad fan-shaped muscle that attaches from the sternum, clavicle (collar bone) and upper 6-7 ribs and inserts on the humerus (upper arm). Pectoralis Minor runs deep to Pec Major and attaches from rib 3-5 and inserts onto the front of the scapula.
With slumping posture, like looking down at your computer or phone, or with heavy chest weighted exercises, these muscles can become short and tight. If your shoulders feel rounded and turned inwards, it is most likely an effect of tight pec muscles. Doing regular Pec stretches can improve your posture and increase the range of motion in your shoulders and thoracic spine.
So, what is a good Pec stretch?
1. Pec doorway stretch
This stretch can be performed against mostly any vertical surface like a pole or wall, but a doorway works best as you can stretch both sides as you step through. If you struggle to reach both arms on, do one at a time.
- Stand next to the frame of the doorway as though you are about to pass through it.
- Bring your hands up so that your forearms and elbows are resting against each side of the doorway. Your elbow and shoulder should be at around 90 degree angles.
- Step through the doorway if you are doing both sides or you can turn your body away from your elbow if you are doing one side.
- You should feel a stretch between the chest and shoulder.
- Hold it for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side if you were only doing one side.
- If the elbow is the same height as the shoulder, it will target Pec Major
- If the elbow is above the height of the shoulder, it will target Pec Minor
Note: If the elbow is below the height of the shoulder, it will not target either muscles and be an ineffective Pec Stretch.
2. Thoracic Towel Pec Stretch
Another great Pec stretch is the Thoracic Towel Stretch that we have covered in a previous blog.
What else can you do to release the Pecs?
Spikey Ball for the Pecs
Similar to the doorway stretch you can perform this against a wall or lying face down. Alternatively if you don’t want to have your face in the floor/wall, you can roll the ball on the muscle with your opposite hand.
- Place the spikey ball between your collarbone and armpit.
- Hold it in a particularly tender point or use your hand or the weight of your body to roll it around over other parts of the muscle.
- If you bring the ball too close to the midline, you’ll most likely be pressing on your ribs or sternum, which can be painful and cause bruising.
NOTE: While these stretches can help lengthen your pectoral muscles, it is important to get any chest/shoulder pain assessed by a practitioner.