• Leah Buckbee, CMA, LMT

Have You Stretched Your Pecs?



Pectoralis Major Muscle

This muscle is the thick u-shaped muscle that connects the chest to the humerus. The connections are both on the chest and on the humerus. They are flat tendons. The muscle is intersected by both the medial and lateral pectoral nerves.

Chest muscles are some of the stronger muscles in your body. These muscles control some of the pushing motion; ie pushing a door open,to lathering up your hair in the shower. These muscles control arm movements like lifting a child, swinging a bat, pushing carts or heavy objects away from you. Exercising these muscles will burn considerable amounts of energy. Exercising these muscle groups will help up your metabolism and burn calories.

The classic push-up and all it’s variations are one of the best ways to tone up the pecs. There are several ways to start:

Beginners:

Push up from your knees

Do 10-15 reps in each session

Do 3-5 sessions to start

Place body on the floor with hands at least shoulder width apart.

Push up from the floor with knees on the floor- keep lower legs horizontal to you. (On floor)

As you increase your strength to a regular push up following the same rep/sequence. (As you build up strength the higher you pull your feet, the harder the exercise)

If doing your first push ups from the floor are too difficult, place hands shoulder wide on a wall or table with both feet planted slightly farther from the wall or table - this exercise will also work the lower chest as well.

As you progress and feel stronger, decline push ups will help you with strengthening your upper chest and deltoid muscles. This will be a push up with your feet and legs higher than your chest and arms.

Then graduate to the plyometric push up. Often called ‘burpy’ are an advanced way to continue to work/exercise the pecs as well as other upper arm muscles.

Time under tension push ups. This push up is time and duration controlled - count 3 seconds to go down and hold just above the floor for 2 seconds and then 3 seconds to push up to your original position. Use the same rep/sequence ratio.

Using a ‘jumping jack’ or ‘star jump’ between each push up also adds extra work out.

Pectoralis major stretches

Lying down:

Lay on your back with fingers interlaced behind your head

Draw both elbows back to open up your shoulders and stretch your pecs.

Hold the stretch position for 15-30 seconds

Repeat 2-3 times

Towel stretch:

Keep shoulders down and away from your ears

Gently lift a towel - held in both hands - up behind you

An injury to one or both of your pecs may cause you to lose shoulder range of motion. (ROM) and over all function around your arms or chest.

Keeping your pec muscles flexible will help you maintain better posture, mobility of your shoulder joints and breathing ability as well. Your pectoral muscles attach at your sternum and to the front of each shoulder. Stretching your pecs is one component of rehabbing and maintaining your normal mobility.

*Stretches are best done after a warm-up, a warm bath or shower or at the end of an exercise routine.

Here are a few more good pectoral stretches:

Stand in the doorway with 1 foot in front of the other.

Bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle and place forearms on either side of the door.

Shift your weight to your bent leg - lean forward until you feel a stretch in your chest muscles, Hold for 15-30 seconds, Repeat 2-3 times

While stretching it is important to know you should feel the stretch only; no pain! If the pain should last any length of time after the stretch is over- stop immediately and see your doctor.

Tight pectoralis muscles can be caused by:

Poor posture

Trauma to chest

Stress

Prolonged use of crutches

Heavy backpacks

And much more!

To help heal an injured pectoralis muscle to usual treatment is called the RICE method.

R- Rest, avoid strenuous activity

I- Ice, wrap ice pack in a towel and apply to affected area for 20 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times a day.

C- Compression, wrap a compression bandage around torso.

E- Elevation, use pillows to stay in a sitting position while sleeping.

A doctor may recommend following the RICE procedure for the 24-48 hours following an injury.

Exercising and stretching your chest muscles at least 3x a week will ensure easier and smoother movements of your upper body. It will help increase metabolism and burn unwanted calories and keep your posture in balance and help you look and feel your best.


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Leah  Buckbee

CMA, LMT, MMA

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