In some of my videos I said that if your arms are up (even steering wheel height) and your fingers get numb, BUT when your arms are down, the numbness goes away, that is caused by a tight Pectoralis Minor Muscle. That is true.
I also said that if it gets tight enough it will cause numbness in your fingers whether your arms are up or down. This is true.
It can cause numbness in all or some your fingers. Remember carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) never affects the little finger. But tight forearms can affect either the last two fingers or mimic CTS or create whole hand numbness.
NOW this is where I was WRONG – sort of:
Here’s the story.
A client cam in that I’ve seen a couple times.
I knew she was a court reporter. I knew she edited the transcription later — At Home — On Her Couch — On a Laptop Computer !!!!
There is practically no ergonomic way to work on a laptop on a couch.
She came in, all five fingers were numb. It didn’t matter if her arms were up or down.
She explained that she was hauling a horse from southern Idaho to northern Idaho. One horse in a two horse trailer and it was fishtailing the whole way. The trailer was swaying side to side. This was a 8 hour drive over a road that was often winding and mountainous. It was a difficult drive.
I expected between her job and gripping the steering wheel that her forearms would be really tight. This surprisingly was not the case.
I checked the scalenes – even though they usually don’t affect the little finger. They weren’t particularly tight either.
But when I just barely touched the pectoralis minor, she let out a little scream. They were exceedingly tender. I worked on them a little bit and showed her how to work on them herself. How is she now? Read on…
Now the pectoralis minor is tight on a lot of people because we do almost everything in front of our bodies. They rarely feel pain however unless someone (like me) pushes on them a little. Then “Holly Cow, where did that come from?”
I won’t go into the problems tight pec minors can cause, because I’ve done that in videos.
But where was I WRONG? Well, my thinking was this gradually builds up. But sometimes it come on quickly. Because you start a new activity quicly. Now you may not be hauling a horse in a fishtailing trailer, but you may have started a new physical job or exercise program.
Pec minor muscles are heavily used in pushups and bench presses. So if you start a program where you suddenly do a lot of them you could see a sudden numbness problem.
Whether you feel problems or not, it is good to keep those muscles loose – either by specific stretches or my self-massage technique and ALSO strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades.
I saw my client again a couple months later and she said the numbness had gone away. And she had been doing the self-massage I showed her.
Would her problem have solved itself on its own. In this case, probably so. It was a one time activity that she wasn’t repeating. It she had continued hauling the horse around, she would know what to do to keep those pec. minors loose.