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Location: This little guy hides behind the pectoralis major, connecting from the front of your shoulder blade to your ribs
Function: it basically helps stabilize the shoulder blade, while also helping with small little movements
Detailed Function: stabilizes, depresses, protracts and downwardly rotate the scapula
Why is this muscle important?
This is not really a muscle that we spend strengthening or focusing our workouts around. It usually works without trying when we work on shoulder stabilizing activities (planks, push-ups, ring dips, OH squats, etc.). The reason why this muscle deserves spotlight is because it’s usually the culprit to a lot of dysfunction in the shoulder and/or neck. This muscle commonly become tight and short because of poor posture. When we sit with our shoulders rounded forward, this muscle just continues to stay tight. When it’s tight, the shoulder blade is put in a very very bad position. It causes the shoulder blade to be tilted forward, which then causes problems when we try to move our arms over head. Pec minor tightness alters the normal mechanics of the scapula-humerus rhythm and can lead to shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tears, etc. There are also a lot of nerves and blood vessels that run underneath the pec minor muscle which get compressed when it’s tight. This can lead to problems such as thoracic outlet syndrome that cause numbness/tingling into the arms.
How to we prevent/correct this problem with the pec minor?
Have good posture!!! It’s such a simple recommendation, but very hard to actually do. Just imagine your shoulder blades sliding down into your back pant pockets as you read this:) Good posture can help, but if your pec minor is already really tight you have to work on stretching it. Here are some good stretches to try to target the pec minor. Most of them target the pec major as well, but this is good too because your pec major needs to be pretty stretched out before you can even target the pec minor.
The pec minor is actually really challenging to stretch because it’s hard to get in the correct position (hence the millions of various stretches I shared). So it’s probably best to tackle your pec minor with the lacrosse ball as well as stretch it. This way you can really target the muscle and break up any adhesions that have been created from years of poor posture. So give your pec minor some love this week, either with the lacrosse ball on the wall or on the floor if you feel like you can tolerate the pressure from the weight of your body. Try putting the ball on either the wall or one of the racks, and move your arms up and down (or side to side) to do give yourself some active release.
*You may feel some numbness/tingling into your arms with these stretches because there are a lot of nerves and blood vessels under the pec minor! So take frequent breaks to shake out your arms. No need to push the stretch until your arms are numb.
** It’s always important to take big breaths while you stretch, but it’s especially helpful with this muscle because of it’s attachment to the ribs. So think of your rib cage expanding as you take breaths in and out during the stretches or with the lacrosse ball.
Workout of the Day 1/30/2012
A. 3-5 Rounds: 90 seconds rest
(to build strength for Muscle-Ups:
<1 strict pullup and <1 strict dips = 5 strict pullups + 5 strict dips with the lightest band you can do for 5 reps in a row
<5 strict PU and <5 strict dips = max strict PU + max strict dips every round
>5 strict PU and >5 strict dips = 5 chest-to-bar PU + 5 bicep-to-ring dips
>5 strict c2b PU and >5 strict b2r dips = 5 muscle-up transitions + 5 false-grip pull-ups
<5 Muscle-Ups = 5 Strict Muscle-Ups with the lightest band possible and false grip work if necessary
B.3 Rounds, each for time:
10 Box Jumps (30/24)
Rest 1 minute
A. 5 Rounds
10 DB Push Press
45 sec Chair Pose
B. 3 Rounds:
B. Single leg Back Kick w/extended DB Press
Hanging Ab Twist
Knee Tuck Jumps