Breathing, It’s Not Just Air

Diaphragm
Diaphragm

 

Most of us take something as common as breathing for granted. It’s a bodily function which occurs thousands of times per day. On average, an adult breaths between 17,000 and 23,000 times per day. That is a lot of activity that we are unaware of. Rarely do we think about it, unless we are exercising and feel like passing out after running a mile (my current pitiful fitness level). All of the sudden, this minor part of our everyday life becomes a very important thing and we have a hard time NOT focusing on it…I hate running. Continue reading “Breathing, It’s Not Just Air”

Stretching Series: Pectoralis Minor

Figure 1                                                                                Pectoralis Minor- Photo Credit Anatomography

 

Figure 2
Pectoralis Minor is probably one the hardest muscles in the body to stretch. It is commonly done in an exact manner as pectoralis major which, in my opinion, can be improved upon. Because of its attachments, it does not have the ability to move through a large range of motion which, of course, limits how we can move it to stretch it. The main issue with singling out pectoralis minor is that pectoralis major usually comes to tension before we can stretch minor, or shoulder mobility does not allow for enough movement. So, in order to reach pectoralis minor, we will need to take these factors out of the equation. Instead of focusing on glenohumeral movement, we are going to focus more on scapular motion (retraction) to gain the lengthening we require.
Now some of you may ask why we are not going to incorporate more elevation of the scapula since the pectoralis minor depresses the shoulder. I answer this by saying that elevation, at least the way we need it, is almost impossible to accomplish when stretching on your own (someone assisting you is a different story). Also, we can accomplish more lengthening and single out pectoralis minor much more effectively with shoulder retraction in this circumstance. If you look back and look at Figure 1, I want you to imagine a simple pulley system on top of the shoulder. Pectoralis minor is a rope on the front side of the pulley and the scapula is the back side of the system. By depressing the scapula while at the same time retracting it, we are, in essence, “hoisting” the insertion of pectoralis minor up and drawing it away from its origin in the ribs.

Although Pectoralis Minor does not have an attachment on the humerus (unlike Pectoralis Major), we will use it to affect how we want the scapula to move.  We will also use the ribs where the Pectoralis Minor originates to help lengthen the muscle from the other direction.

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Stretching Series: Pectoralis Major

Pectoralis Major
This muscle is very popular to stretch and for good reason. It is a main contributor to upper cross syndrome and anterior shoulder posture. It can also be a major player in shoulder impingement. Obviously, a good one to know how to stretch! The key with the muscle is making sure we are stretching ALL the different fiber directions due to the broad attachments into the ribs. we can easily miss fully lengthening this muscle simply by not stretching at the right angle.  

If discomfort is felt in the shoulder joint while stretching, or if instability is a concern, practice stabilizing the scapula while stretching by activating your lower trapezius and rhomboid. This should help with discomfort as well as allow for correct stretching form. 

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