Not many try to have their chest muscles (pectoralis major) massaged. Especially on women there’s the worry about the breasts and a massage becoming too intimate or crossing lines. This is rather unfortunate as it’s a very important muscle to have massaged, especially when dealing with shoulder and upper back problems due to desk work.
Pectoralis major a muscle which is attached to the top of the upper arm and spreads all over the chest area. It’s also called pecs and on male body-builders can look like a small breast. On women a part of the muscle lies beneath the breast-tissue, which makes massage of it a delicate affair.
As I described in my “Pain from computer and desk” and in “Postural distortion” articles the pectoralis major is a muscle which is often chronically tight. This becomes a reinforcing factor in the pain felt between the shoulder-blades and in the upper back and shoulder area. The tighter pectoralis major is, the more it stretches the muscles on the back, which in turn allows the pectoralis to become even tighter. A vicious circle which can lead to a hunchbacked posture with time.
It brings some instant relief to massage the shoulders and upper back, but if pectoralis major isn’t also massaged, it will only make matters worse in the long run. The back muscles relax after the massage, allowing the pecs to become even tighter.
So if the muscles on the back are massaged and relaxed, then it’s essential that the same is done on the front. Due to the stigma there is about breasts, many women never have their pectoralis major massaged.
As I described in my “Stretch exercises” article, there are some things you can do yourself to deal with a tight pectoralis. Though it’ll not always be enough as stretching does not deal with trigger points nor remove knots.
Next time you go to your massage therapist, ask that your pectoralis major is massaged and know that there’s nothing sexual in the work done, even if the breasts are touched and shifted aside. You’ll be surprised by how many sore points and tensions the pecs hold.