Top 6 Pec Stretch And Release Techniques

The pectoral muscle group consists of 2 muscles:  the pec major and the pec minor.

If during an evaluation excessive rounded shoulders, shoulder or neck pain, or breathing imbalance is found, these muscles should be further evaluated for their potential involvement.

How to know if you may need to address the Pectoral Muscles (Pec Major and Pec Minor):

  • Shoulder pain
  • Rounded shoulders
  • Neck pain
  • Referred pain down the arms
  • Imbalanced breathing or rib cage patterns

Pec Muscle Release - Massage Therapy

The pectoralis major is the most superficial and easy to access chest muscle.  It starts at the sternum and inserts into the upper arm.  There are a variety of glides that can be used as demonstrated in the video, and even simple compression of the muscle can be used to assist with reducing tender areas.

The pectoralis minor, however, is a bit more challenging to access because it lies underneath the larger pec fibers.  It needs to be treated from the side, or side lying position.

Pec Stretch - Standing Wall Stretch

One of the easiest and most familiar ways to stretch the pectorals is with a doorway stretch.  Place your arm so that your elbow is slightly higher than your shoulder and step forward a bit while simultaneously turning your body away from the arm.

Pec Stretch - Swiss Ball Stretch

The swiss ball pectoral stretch is a good alternative to the doorway stretch, especially if you have a hard time getting a good stretch.

Make sure you use a ball that is large enough, and that you allow your shoulder blades to move toward each other to simulate stepping forward through the doorway as discussed in the previous stretch.

Pec Muscle Release - Post Isometric Relaxation

Post-isometric relaxation works well for the pectoral muscles.

This is accomplished by moving toward the end of a massage table (or bench) and allow your arm to hang as if you were doing a stretch with gravity assistance.  If you are doing this by yourself, lift up your arm (using your chest muscles) just enough to activate the muscle.

Hold for 8-10 seconds, take a deep breathe in, and exhale as you attempt to relax further into the stretch.  Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat 2-3 more times or until no additional range of motion is achieved.

Pec Minor Release - Massage Therapy

Post-isometric relaxation works very well for the back extensor muscles.

Correct positioning over the end of the table is essential during this one, and if any discomfort is felt in the lower lumbar spine, reduce intensity and/or consult with your physician for guidance.

Be sure to contract at a low intensity for 8-10 seconds prior to relaxing fully into the new stretch position for another 8-10 seconds.

Pec Major/Minor Muscle Release - Self Massage w Ball

Self-massage for the pectoral muscles is possible with the use of a tennis or lacrosse ball.  Place the ball into the desired area and lean into a wall or doorway.

You may wish to move your arm slightly back behind your body to lengthen the pectorals as you compress the tissues with the ball.  You can move your body to scroll through the tissues, and isolate any areas that are particularly tender.  Hold those points for 10-15 seconds, then move to another area.

Continue this process until you treat the areas that you can access effectively.

Are you in the Los Angeles area and need help fixing shoulder issues? Click below and lets talk.