If you have not been following a long I have been discussing the beginning stages of what some may consider as an epidemic; “postural syndrome.” I have now addressed three very important groups of muscles that are necessary for proper postural alignment. If you missed these posts simply click on the links to catch up (click here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).
Continuing in our quest for great posture, today I will talk about an often over-looked sourced of rounded shoulders; the pectorals. The pectoral muscles are better known as the bench press muscles as they are responsible for adduction of the arms, and humerus. The pectoral group (composed of a major and a minor) also help to move the scapula anteriorly and inferiorly against the thoracic wall allowing for smooth motion. The pectoralis minor is of most concern as it directly attached to the scapula (shoulder) and ribs. This will serve as a perfect lever to pull those shoulder into a rounded position distorting the curves of your spine and placing abnormal stress on the muscles of the back, shoulder, and neck. See the picture to the left to see just how this affects your spine. The pectoralis minor also serves as a secondary breathing muscle that may be recruited in those that are deconditioned. The muscle lies in close proximity to the Thoracic Outlet, which is a small opening in your neck and shoulder where the nerves of your spine exit to innervate your limbs. When shortened this muscle may serve to close down that space creating an impingement on the nerves exiting the spine. This is commonly marked by tingling, numbness, discoloration, or coldness in the hands. It is in your best interest in other words to be sure that this muscle is of adequate length and not causing any impingements!
Corrective Exercise to Lengthen the Pectorals:
Doorway Stretch- Perform 3 sets, holding each stretch 30s, 1x/day (see picture below)
– The easiest way to perform this exercise is to find a door way ( you can either stretch both sides at once or one arm at a time.)
- -Place your elbow (s) at a 90 degree angle
-Assume a lunge position into a stretch, bring shoulder blades down and back, hold 30s then repeat.
-Focus on “lunging” into a stretch as opposed to bending at the waist to create a stretch. You should feel this in your anterior shoulder and chest.
Do this stretch daily and it will improve not only your posture but over-all shoulder mobility!
Stay tuned next week as we begin to discuss posture and hip mobility!
If you would like to have your posture professionally evaluated and develop a plan that will meet your specific needs Click Here to schedule a consultation.