Pectoralis Major Muscle Pain And Trigger Points


A tight pectoralis major muscle that contains trigger or tender points may give you pain in your chest or shoulder.

Also, if this muscle is too tight it fosters a round shouldered posture.

Especially in men this muscle is well known and very popular as it, if well trained, gives them a strong looking front.


Pain Zone

Attachment Points



Impaired Movements



Pain Zone Of The Pectoralis Muscle

Trigger points in this muscle - shown as "Xs" in the picture under "Attachment Points" - can send pain to the red marked areas displayed below. The deeper the colour, the more prone it is to experience pain in the respective area when trigger points in the pectoralis major are present.

The points X1 and X2 mainly give you a painful shoulder, whereas the other points send pain mainly to the chest itself, and to the upper and inner side of your forearm.

This muscle can contribute to...

Pectoralis Major Muscle Attachment Points

From the outside the pectoralis major looks like one big muscle. But actually it consists of three parts. Every one of the three parts has its own and separate origin, while all the muscle fibers fuse together at the same spot, namely at the upper side of your arm pit –.

The three parts are named after the location of their origin.

  • Clavicular part – comes from your collarbone/clavicle –
  • Sternal part – comes from your breast bone/sternum –
  • Costal part – comes from your ribs/costal = ribs - .



Pectoralis Major Muscle: Function

This muscle has many functions. As a whole, it adducts the arm and rotates the shoulder inwardly. The lower/costal fibers can pull down the shoulder joint, whereas the upper/clavicular fibers can elevate/raise the arm in front of you.


Inward Rotation


Overuse And Trigger Point Development

If you are a desk criminal that spends hours and hours in front of your computer or writing, you may get issues with this muscle. Why? Because you are prone to be working in a round shouldered position where your pectoralis is constantly contracted and your shoulder rotated inwardly, respectively.

This means that the muscle will be constantly in a “shortened” position, which eventually may lead to tender and trigger points.

On the other hand you can overstress it with too much exercise or activities that you are not used to. Doing excessive chest workouts at the gym can be a reason for trouble in this muscle. Yes, chest workouts are fun and the results can look awesome, but I recommend balancing it. Give yourself rest and keep up your shoulder mobility.

Impaired Or Painful Movements

A very tight pectoralis major will definitely contribute to an impaired flexibility in your shoulder – e.g. when reaching behind – as it pulls the whole system forwards and keeps it there.

Pectoralis Major Muscle Palpation

For feeling this muscle, pinch the front of your arm pit and then feel the muscle from your collarbone to your breast bone and your rips, all fusing together at your arm pit.

Self-Massage Of The Pectoralis Major Muscle

Massaging the pectoralis major muscle can be done best with a tennis ball, a cane or with your hands. At different areas of this muscle you may favor different equipment.

Let us start with the upper part. I recommend massaging this part with a cane. You can apply pressure very easily and precisely without stressing any other part of your body – your hands or shoulders for example –.

Place the cane on the pectoralis major muscle approximately at the middle region of your collarbone and then slowly work your way down diagonally towards your upper arm. Work tender spots with deep, slow and short strokes.

Massage of the middle/sternal part of the muscle works well with a cane or a tennis ball. For massaging it with a cane, do it like above. Place the cane on the muscle and search for tender or trigger points.

If you want to massage this part of the pectoralis major muscle with a tennis ball, you need a wall to push yourself against. Put the ball on the muscle and push yourself against it. Then roll the ball sideways and search for tight and tender spots.

For the lower/costal part of the pectoralis major muscle, it is best to use your hands. Pinch the lower fibers with the fingers of your opposite hand and roll tight and tender spots between them. On this one, be gentle on your hands and only do very short massage sessions – each tight point for 10 seconds –. You really do not want to overstress your hands.


Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print

Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2004. Print

Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons' Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Print.

Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print

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