What is the Pectoralis Minor?

Alex Paul

The pectoralis minor is a thin muscle located near the top of the chest. It is situated close to the pectoralis major, which is found above the minor muscle. It is triangular serves the purpose of pushing the scapula forward as well as downwards. It is also required to stabilize the scapula during movement. An example of an everyday use for the muscle would be pushing open a door.

The act of pushing open a door requires use of the pectoralis minor muscle.
The act of pushing open a door requires use of the pectoralis minor muscle.

The origin of the pectoralis minor is on several of the upper ribs. It inserts at the coracoids process of the scapula and its innervation is via the medial pectoral nerve. Toward the insertion, the muscle flattens and becomes a tendon.

The pectoralis minor is located in the upper portion of the chest.
The pectoralis minor is located in the upper portion of the chest.

As with many muscles of the body, the pectoralis minor works closely with another in order to provide the required motion. In this case the muscle works with the serratus anterior. While the pectoralis minor pushes forward and downward, the Serratus anterior pushes upward. This provides movement which is known as pure protraction — movement without rotation.

Pushups are a good way to strengthen the pectoralis minor.
Pushups are a good way to strengthen the pectoralis minor.

The muscle is found in the upper portion of the chest and attaches to the surface of the third, fourth or fifth ribs. This varies depending on the person involved. Although complete absence of the muscle is rare it is not unheard of. In some cases the muscle may consist of several different parts although this is also relatively rare. There is sometimes a variation in where the tendon inserts although this isn’t thought to have an effect on movement or strength.

Performing dumbbell flies can strengthen the pectoral -- or chest -- muscles.
Performing dumbbell flies can strengthen the pectoral -- or chest -- muscles.

Although the pectoralis minor is an important muscle in the chest, the pectoralis major is larger and stronger. The two muscles have different actions, however, although they both have the same innervation. Instead of movement of the scapula, the purpose of the pectoralis major is to provide shoulder flexion as well as adduction. An example of this sort of movement could be applying roll on deodorant. The pectoralis major muscle can be strengthened by performing pushups.

Injuries can occur in the pectoralis minor, although problems are more likely to arise in the pectoralis major. Chest strains are relatively common injuries. These can involve sharp and sudden pain as well as swelling over the area of the muscle. To start, these injuries are usually treated by resting and applying ice although more severe injuries may require other non-surgical treatments. Operations are usually only required if there is a complete rupture.

Chest strains may cause significant pain.
Chest strains may cause significant pain.

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Discussion Comments


Has anyone here ever had a pectoralis minor strain? It is one of the most painful things you can experience, and it has happened to me several times.

If I am in a hurry and I try to buckle my seatbelt with one arm, I almost always strain this muscle. I get a burning pain between my underarm and my sternum, right across one side of my chest.

It feels like I have ripped something apart inside of my body. It burns, but it also aches with a deep soreness. The agony lasts for about thirty minutes, and even massaging doesn't seem to help.


@summing – I have found that the best muscles for building mass are the ones in which you use your body's own resistance. When I started doing this type of exercise, I noticed an increase in muscle size.

For the pectoralis minor muscle workout, all you have to do is press your palms together. Put your arms out directly in front of you, and then bring your elbows in to a 90 degree angle. Press your palms together, locking your fingers.

Push them into each other as hard as they will comfortably go. You will feel the tension it creates between your underarms and your chest, as well as all across your chest.

Hold the position for forty seconds, and do reps of four to begin with. Also, you can do short bursts of presses, and do about forty of them at a time.


I have pectoralis minor syndrome. My doctor told me that my job caused me to develop it. I stock shelves at a supermarket, and I have to stack a lot of boxes overhead.

My arms and hands tingle sometimes, and at other times, they ache. I get a pain just beneath my collar bone, and it shoots down my arm. My underarms have become tender since I started having this problem.

The pain starts when I turn my neck. It's very inconvenient and crippling. I have had to quit my job while taking physical therapy to treat my condition.

I know that I cannot work in that profession anymore. Even when this flareup goes away, continued work like that would cause it to happen over and over.


I have always had trouble developing my chest. I have done lots of different chest exercise for years but my chest is still flat and undeveloped.

I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for ways that I can develop mass. I am especially curious about a pectoralis minor workout that can help me build my upper chest. I don't want to take a lot of supplements. Besides protein powder I don't want to take anything. So I need a workout that can really help me blast my chest. Thanks for any suggestions.


Lots of men these days want to work out that particular muscle so they can get that strong necked look. It seems like most of the stars in Hollywood these days like to wear low cut button down shits so that they can show off the cords and sinews running from their neck to their chests.

There are a couple of easy exercises that guys, and girls, can do to develop these muscles. The incline bench press is a good one and go for high reps rather than high weight. Another one that anyone can do even in their own home is push ups with inverted legs. Just put your feet on a chair or stool and do pushups as you normally would.

Another big part of achieving this look is staying lean. It doesn't matter how much you exercise, if you have a double chin its going to spoil the look.

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