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Our electronic dependent society (computers, tablets, cell phones) encourages us to fall into a kyphotic and rounded shoulder posture day after day. While this stretch does not isolate the pec minor (pec major is on stretch too) it will help improve posture and reduce the risk for shoulder impingement and scapular dysfunction.

Execution:
Laying on your back, place a half roller between the shoulder blades and something under the head to support the cervical spine.
 
 

Actively externally rotate the arms while keeping them at the side of the body and allow the shoulders to fall back toward the floor or table. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

 
 

Progression:
Utilizing the same body positioning, now move the arms overhead into a V position while maintaining external rotation. Again, hold for 30 seconds and repeat for 2-3 times.


Application:
I treat a lot of pitchers and overhead athletes in my clinic. One of the most common issues I see is tightness in the pecs, particularly the pec minor. Clinically, these clients may present with a tipped scapula, but they also cannot get their scapula flat on the table while lying on their back due to shortening of the pectorals. You may also notice when standing against a wall that the shoulders tip or pitch forward.

Poor posture is compounded when these athletes are throwing repetitively and moving into protraction, abduction and internal rotation of the shoulder. In addition to pitchers, this exercise should be a staple for swimmers, tennis athletes, volleyball players and clients with excessive kyphosis and/or internal rotation of the shoulders.

Precautions:
Stretching should not cause any undue strain/discomfort along the anterior shoulder as the stretch should be felt in the chest area. In addition, reduce the range of motion or discontinue the stretch if you experience any tingling in the arm. This is not likely with self stretching, but if it occurs this would be a sign of neural tension indicating irritation of the brachial nerves that run beneath the pec minor.


Brian Schiff, PT, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor at the Athletic Performance Center in Raleigh, NC. Brian presents nationally at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more cutting edge training information, subscribe to his monthly Training & Sports Medicine Update at www.BrianSchiff.com.

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