Today we’re going to look at a couple different muscles and fascial chains that coalesce at one particular part of the front part of your shoulder, the Coracoid process.
Fun fact: Coracoid means “like a Raven’s beak” and as you are about to see, it looks just like one:
As you can see it’s a structure on the Scapula (it’s on the top right)
Here’s where it is on a skeleton. It lies in the soft squishy corner of your upper chest.
So now that we have established common ground and know that it’s apart of the front part of your Scapula and lies in the squishy corner of the upper part of your chest we can look at these today:
- Why this area is so important
- Muscles that attach to it
- Fascial chains that lie around it
- Techniques/Yoga Poses that unlock the area
Trust me, your body and your brain will thank you for reading this
Who gives a damn about the Coracoid?
This area is a hot bed of fascial restrictions because we’re constantly rounded over something (like the phone/computer you’re reading this on, our steering wheels, when we eat, etc).
Are you rounded over reading this like the guy on the computer right now?
I’ve detailed this forward rounded posture a lot. Feel free to read it: Anatomy of a Modern Day Human: Troll Posture (I’ve linked it at the end too so you can finish this article first). There I focused a lot about the back body and using strengthening exercises to pull everything back. Today we’ll be looking at the chest, the other side of the equation, because if this area is really restricted (and it very likely is) then all that strength will only get you so far.
Posture is probably the biggest reason why this area is so important. Another reason is because of how crazy connected this point is to a lot of fascia in your body. I’ve detailed fascia in my article aptly named: Fascia (If you don’t know anything about fascia, read that real quick then come back, I’ve also linked at the end in case you’re interested after this article). The important point to take from that is that if one area of the chain is restricted, then the whole chain of muscles are affected and pulled toward that space.
Think of it like a sweater. If you pull the left side of your sweater down, what happens to the right shoulder area of the sweater? It gets pulled, or overstretched. Overstretched tissue results in the feeling of “tightness.“ Contrary to how it’s commonly used (some equate tightness = shortened/condensed), tightness is the perception of over stretching (if you stretch a rubber band to tension, you would say that it is tight right? Same concept with your fascia and muscles)
News Flash: your Coracoid process is probably one of the most restricted areas on your body
Stuff That Attaches to the Coracoid:
Easy way to understand this section:
Muscles only pull.
Take a look at where they are and what they are attached to and you can see quite easily surmise how they work.
- Pec Minor – pulls the shoulder forward
This muscle is chronically shortened on just about everyone
- Short head of Biceps
This one also tends to be shortened and results in pulling the shoulder forward and internal rotation of the arm
This one lies under the short head of the biceps. It’s one of the primary (and often overlooked) reasons why external rotation of the shoulder becomes restricted. This muscle is also chronically shortened and locks the shoulder into internal rotation, limiting external rotation.
- Subscapularis – passes underneath the coracoid
Here’s another one that’s always shortened on damn near everyone. This one lies in front of the scapula in between it and the rib cage. It’s also a major internal rotator of the shoulder and when stuck in a shortened position hinders external rotation.
- Subclavius – passes above it
This one lies right under the clavicle and is often stuck in a shortened position as well. That “X” displayed is a nasty trigger point under the clavicle towards the sternum that you can press into to help release it.
- Ligaments that stabilize the shoulder and clavicle
Woah there’s a lot going on around there and that was a lot of information.
Let’s connect the dots:
- The shortened Pec Minor and Short Head of the Biceps pull the scapula forward, resulting in that Forward Rounded Posture
- The shortened Coracobrachialis and Subscapularis cause the shoulders to internally rotate (collapse inward towards the middle chest)
- The shortened Subclavius limits mobility of the clavicle resulting in a lack of mobility and decreased elasticity in the Ligaments
As you can see all of that tissue in the front of the shoulder is condensed. Locally this can cause some serious nerve impingement.
All the nerves that go into your arm pass under the Coracoid and Pec Minor.
This often explains why some people feel numbness/tingling when they bring their arm over their head. (More on Thoracic Outlet Syndrome here)
Locally this all can seriously hinder proper breathing too. More on that in my article: Abs & Anti-Extension: “Inhale – Backbend” (linked again at the end for further reading if you’d like)
Now that we can see all the local constriction and restriction, let’s extend outward and see what happens to the rest of the body from a fascially connected standpoint.
I’m sure you’re sitting there rounded over your screen thinking “HOW COULD THERE BE MORE?!”
How the Coracoid is like a Black Hole
Imagine for a second a black hole. As far as we know it pulls in everything around it, even light. That’s more or less what’s occurring fascially around the coracoid. We established above that all off the tissue and muscles are shortened and condensed around it. In case you didn’t know, these are all connected to other muscles via chains and slings throughout the rest of the body.
Functional Superficial Front Line:
Superficial & Deep Front Arm Lines:
Front Sling/Spiral Line:
As you can see, shortened restricted tissue around the coracoid process can lead to problems along the front body, side body, out into the arms, and destabilize the muscles of the Front Spiral line.
This isn’t even covering the fascial chains that are the antagonists to these. It doesn’t just condense the tissue along these front chains, it results in over stretching and misdirected force in the opposite chains.
I’m sure you’re rounded over your screen like this now.
As you can now see quite clearly, this area is very connected with a lot of fascia and nerves. It’s a shit show of condensed restricted tissue too. Lucky for you, we’re about to fix that 🙂
Opening the Front Body
Let’s talk about releasing the fascia first:
Remember that this area is rich in blood flow and nerves. DO NOT PRESS TOO HARD. If you start feeling any numbness/tingling in your arms/hands you’ve pressed too hard.
- Coracoid Brushing: Take your finger tips and just run then over the area of the coracoid (like if you were waxing your car with your fingertips). Don’t press too hard just do a bunch of lite strokes in every direction, like an asterick *. Start to extend outward and focus on the area with the big red circle, then work around the whole area using that same light fingertip brushing. Feel free to do some shoulder rolls while your fingertips brush around the area too. This is really good to do every time you take a shower.
- Digging For Armpit Gold: (This one’s a fun one, you may need a friend for it too) Dig your fingers into your arm pit, in front of the rib cage, as if you were peeling your pec off your ribs. You can work the back part of the pec minor here too. Move your digging behind the rib cage onto the scapula to get the subscapularis. Try not to press too hard, if you start to feel numb or tingling back off, remember there’s a lot of nerves around that space. You’ll know when you struck gold from the super tender spots you’ll find
- Tennis Ball Lean: Video here
- Yoga: Supported Bound Angle (more detail on this here)
Because we’re posturally rounded forward and internally rotated, the natural fix is anything that lifts the chest, draws the head back, and externally rotates the shoulders. Supported Bound Angle is just that bit of magic that accomplishes all of that, plus it’s a place you can relax into. My recommendation is propping yourself up into this and set a timer to spend about 4-5 mins in it. Especially after work each day.
- Here are some good morning exercises to open the area and warm up the joints and fascia: 3 Yoga Poses for Thoracic Spine Mobility
Seriously do some of those, your body will thank you for it.
Concluding the Coracoid
As you can see this area is really important and if you never open it, release the tissue, and engage the muscles it can lead to some serious problems for your whole body.
What you can do from here is maybe check out some of my affiliated articles:
- Fascia: Further your understand of how your whole body is connected and see just what it is and how restrictions manifest in it
- Hydrate Your Brain & BodyHydrate Your Brain & Body: Make sure you’re getting the right amount of water to keep your newly opened fascia hydrated
- Anatomy of a Modern Day Human: Troll Posture: Take a look at the larger picture of rounding over a screen. This one has exercises to strengthen your back body and fix your posture.
- Get to Know Your Butt: Your shoulder and your butt are best friends, here’s how to link them and help bring your shoulders back
- Twists Part 2: Counter-Twist Your Yoga Twists: More on the Spiral Line of Fascia
- Abs & Anti-Extension: “Inhale – Backbend”: Learn how to properly breathe with that newly opened and expanded chest. All movement starts with breathing and if your breathing sucks, your movement will too.
On a final note,
Make sure you’re doing your fascial front body releases and back body exercises
Me and the world will be looking at you and your horrible posture if you don’t
Stay open and full of light,