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How Sustained Contraction of Your Shoulder Muscles Can Lead to Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

When you reach your arm and hand outside perpendicular for longer than a few minutes, you are engaging a sustained contraction of muscles that depress and compress the shoulder down into the thoracic outlet and tunnel.

When you reach out your arm to manipulate an object in front of you, a series of muscle contractions occur that can cause a narrowing of the costoclavicular space and the subpectoral space.

  1. The lower trapezius and latissimus dorsi contract to pull the shoulder girdle down to stabilize and anchor the shoulder to the chest to provide a solid platform to counterbalance the weight of the shoulder and arm in front of the body.
  2. The pectoralis minor muscles, the coracobrachialis, and the biceps short head anchor the shoulder blade down to the chest to maintain a solid platform for the arm flexion.
  3. The subclavius muscle stabilizes the collarbone to the first rib and in the process, it lifts the first rib into the outlet and pulls the collarbone down into the thoracic outlet.

The longer you hold your shoulder arm and hand in this position . . .

  1. The longer the muscles contract.
  2. The longer the muscles contract, the more they will spasm.
  3. The more they spasm, the more deeply the reflex will be burned into the brain.
  4. The deeper the reflex is burned into the brain, the longer it will take to reprogram.
  5. The longer it takes to reprogram, the more unlikely you will have a successful physical therapy experience.
  6. The more physical therapy sessions that fail you, the more likely you will either live with long-term suffering or TOS surgery you never needed.

Ma’am, please remove your hand from the smartphone, mouse, keyboard) and nobody gets hurt.

Holding your arm in flexed for sustained period of time can happen when using your phone, tablet or other handheld. Muscles affected: subclavius muscle, pectoralis minor muscle, the coracobrachialis and biceps short head muscles

Sustained Contraction of the Muscle Attaching to the Coracoid Process

There are other muscles, when in an abnormally contracted state or constantly contracted, that can contribute to the narrowing of the subclavian space. The pectoralis minor muscle, biceps short head muscle, the coracobrachialis, and the anterior (front) neck muscles of the shoulder can contribute to the compression of the collarbone into the thoracic tunnel.

These muscles are always contracted in a super contracted state, because they all contract together when lifting the arm to the front of the body.

Costoclavicular Space Compression and Thoracic Cortical Pectoralis Space

Narrowing of the thoracic cortical pectoralis space can result from shortening of the pectoralis minor muscle (30). This hypercontracted pectoralis minor muscle, the subclavius muscle, the coracobrachialis muscle, and the biceps short head muscle can act together to compress the area. The swollen, hypercontracted pectoralis minor muscle by itself can compress the artery, vein, and nerves as they pass beneath it.

We all know a large proportion of Americans are addicted to their cell phones and other handheld devices. But there are considerable risk factors and clinical features of the musculoskeletal disorders due to the use of these devices. This includes not only mobile phones, but handheld devices, such as game controls, tablets, iPods, iPads, and other portable electronic items.

Put your hand on the opposite side of your chest just below your collarbone. Now lift the arm on that side to place your hand at the level of your eyes, as if you were looking at your cell phone. You should feel a muscle contraction under your hand on your chest. This is the pectoralis minor muscle.

These muscles contract to lock the shoulder to the chest wall to provide a stable platform to allow you to extend your 10-pound arm out away from the human spring. The farther away, the more pressure it exerts at the fulcrum base. Your brain thinks this constant, extended contraction of these muscles is you contracting them for a long time on purpose.

It also shifts or locks ribs three, four, and five and the ribs they connect to, which can lead to pain between the shoulder blades, where these ribs connect to the spine, and chest pain, where the ribs connect to the sternum or breastbone.

Oftentimes, people think they are having a heart attack (difficulty getting a deep breath, shortness of breath, crushing chest pain, and mid back pain) and they rush to the hospital, only to find that their heart is normal.

If you don’t know the cause of your thoracic outlet syndrome then you wont know how to calm it down.

When doctors suspect the shoulder is being dragged down into the thoracic outlet by muscles in the arm and chest they only surgically remove the pectoralis minor.

Even if you got the pectoralis minor muscle resected (cut), the shoulder would still be dragged into the thoracic outlet by the coracobrachialis muscle, biceps short head, latissimus dorsi and lower trapezius.

Do you realize you are cutting muscles and bones out of your body causing permanent damage to your structure simply because your doctors and therapists don’t have an effective approach to relaxing these spasmed muscles.

If you get a cramp in your calf or a stiff neck from a car accident, is the cure to cut those muscles out too?

Contact me for a free strategy meeting before you get surgery that you don’t need.

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