The pectoralis major is a muscle located in the chest of the human body. Its main function is to flex and rotate the humerus — a long bone in the upper arm. This is a large muscle that’s more visually prominent in males as it’s hidden underneath female breasts. Weight lifting is the most commonly used method for training this muscle. The pectoralis muscles are frequently referred to as pecs in everyday language.
The pectoralis major originates towards the center of the chest and is used to flex the arm or rotate it from the shoulder joint. This means that it’s an important muscle for a wide range of different tasks such as lifting and twisting the arm. An example of a movement that utilizes this muscle is bringing the arm across the chest.
The pectoralis contains two distinct muscles — major and minor. Both work in tandem but have different functions. The pectoralis minor is a muscle located beneath the pectoralis major. As the name suggests, the pectoralis minor is much smaller muscle. Its primary function is to draw the body forward from the scapula.
Due to the nature of the shoulder joint, it’s important for the pectoralis muscles to provide flexibility and movement in a number of planes. For this reason the fibers of the muscle run from the center of the chest outwards to increase mobility. People who have an injury to the pectoralis muscles may find everyday activities difficult because of this need for mobility.
The pectoralis muscles are one of the most important chest muscles for weight lifters and body builders. Exercises such as push ups and bench presses can be used to increase the strength of the muscle although these exercises don’t focus solely on the pectoralis muscles. There are other exercises that target the pectoralis major muscle, although these commonly require specialty gym equipment to perform effectively.
As pectoralis muscles are frequently overused during weight lifting, chest pain originating from this muscle is not uncommon. This could be a sign of a muscle tear or overuse injury. A person with a chest strain should rest the muscle as much as possible and refrain from any activities that may aggravate the condition. For more severe pectoral injuries, physical therapy may be required. Since chest pain can also be a sign of more serious conditions a doctor should always be consulted following an injury.