Stretches & Strengthening for the Pectoralis Minor
It is important to do stretches and strengthening for the pectoralis minor and other chest muscles to promote a healthy, upright posture and a full range of motion. Your pectoralis minor is a triangular tendon located on the upper part of your chest; it originates on your third, fourth, and fifth ribs and inserts into your scapula. It enables your shoulder to move forward and downward. If your pectoralis minor is tight and weak, you might have hunched over shoulders and limited shoulder movement. You can practice specific yoga poses to stretch and strengthen this muscle.
Upward Facing Dog
Upward Facing Dog stretches and strengthens your pectoralis minor and other chest and shoulder muscles. Lay on the floor, belly down. Place your palms on the floor under your shoulders and lift your torso up straightening your arms and stacking your shoulders over your wrists. Press the tops of your feet down, engage your quadriceps and try to lift your knees off the floor. Bring your chest forward even more to deepen the stretch through your chest muscles. Press your hands down into the floor for an isometric hold that strengthens your shoulders. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Hold the position for three to five breaths.
Bow Pose can be a very intense yoga pose that stretches your shoulders and chest muscles and builds back strength. Lay on your belly with your forehead or chin resting on the floor. Bend your knees and take the tops of your feet or ankles with your hands. Keep your knees hip-width. As you inhale, lift your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. As you exhale, kick into your hands intensifying your back bend. Keep your neck neutral. Hold the pose for five breaths.
Bridge Pose will stretch your chest muscles while also building strength in your back muscles and quadriceps. Lay on your back, bend your knees and bring your heels close to your sit bones. Inhale, lift your hips up toward the ceiling, interlace your hands, press your forearms down and slide your shoulders under your chest. Balloon your chest up toward the ceiling. Keep your lower belly engaged to protect your lower back. Hold for five breaths.
Strength Training Exercises with Weights
Strength training exercises with weights can help you target your pectoralis minor and build greater muscle mass. Barbell and dumbbell presses in particular will strengthen your upper chest muscles. Lay on a bench face up and hold a barbell or a dumbbell in each hand. Your arms should be bent at about 90 degrees, with your upper arms in line with your shoulders and your forearms pointing straight up. As you exhale, press the weights up straightening your arms so that your wrists and elbows move in line with your shoulders. As you inhale, lower the weights down bending your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Repeat eight to 12 reps and two to three sets at least twice per week on nonconsecutive days.
Based in Denver, Jessica Owens is a yoga teacher and a writer. She began writing in college for the school newspaper and currently writes for online publications about health and wellness. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hamilton College in 2009.