Anatomy of a muscle
The pectoralis major is a large muscle located near the skin in front of the rib cage. It originates on the clavicle, the sternum, and the top of the abs. It runs across the chest to the insert on the upper arm. The muscles actions include:
moving the arm into horizontal adduction (arm comes across the body);
internal rotation of the arm (turning the pages of a book that is on your lap);
shoulder adduction (raising your arm out to your side); flexion of the arm (raising your arm in front of you)
Causes of tightness
The pectoralis major is shortened by bad posture habits, such as hunching over or working with your arms extended in front of you. Hairdressers, massage therapists, and people who work with laptop computers are often affected.
Symptoms of tightness
Vulture-neck posture (head juts out in front of the body)
Pain or muscle spasm between the shoulder blades
Pain across the sternum
Pressure across the chest
Tingling or numbness in the arms, especially at night
Check if for tightness through this flexibility test
Hold a pencil in each fist
With your arms by your sides, bend over slightly at the hips and shake out your shoulders
Stand up and look at the pencils
If they are pointing toward each other, you have a tight chest
Lie on the ground on your stomach
Your arm should be down by your side (It can be out to your side if tolerated)
Place a tennis ball or lacrosse ball under your chest on one side of your sternum
Find a tender spot and hold 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until there is just pressure, no pain
When you are finished, there should be some improvement in the range of motion. Take the pencil test again to verify.
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