Release of the Coracoid Process

Written by joe capristo
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Release of the Coracoid Process
Simple exercises can relieve the tension on the coracoid process. (Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

The coracoid process is a bony protrusion on the shoulder blade that extends over the shoulder and connects to the chest and arm muscles. Tension in these muscles can put pressure on the shoulder blade. Pressure on this bone can cause neck pain and headaches, as well as pain in the shoulder and arm. Untreated, this pain can extend all the way into the hand and fingers, as well as into the ribs, lower back and legs.

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Anatomy of the Affected Area

The coracoid process is part of the scapula. The scapula is a large triangular bone on the back of the shoulder, commonly called the shoulder blade. The coracoid process attaches to three muscle groups. The coracobrachialis, pectoralis minor and the short biceps brachii must be relaxed to relieve tension on the coracoid process. Relax these muscle groups using a combination of massage, stretching and treatment techniques and tools.

Warm Ups and Pre-Treatments

If the short biceps brachii (bicep on the body side of your arm), the coracobrachialis or the pectoralis minor (two small muscle groups under the breast or nipple) are sore or pulled tight, pretreat them before stretching. A hot shower or bath will help loosen tight muscles. If the muscle groups, or the affected body areas such as the neck, are inflamed, take an anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxin (Aleve). You can also apply gentle or firm massage.

Massaging the Involved Muscle Groups

Massage the inner bicep with the opposite hand, using the thumb, fingers and palm. You can also ball the fist and sweep the knuckles along the bicep in an upward motion. The pressure of your strokes should flow upward from the elbow to the shoulder, never toward the elbow.

The pectoralis minor connects to the third, fourth and fifth ribs, counting downward from the collar bone. Massage it with the heel of the hand on the same side arm; stroke the ribs beneath the arm and in the area between the armpit and nipple. You can apply pressure both upward and downward. Additionally, stroke the ribs from just below the armpit toward the nipple or breast, or from nipple to armpit with the opposite hand. Women may want to cup and lift the breast, to better expose the muscle.

Massage the coracobrachialis by placing the palm of the opposite hand on the nipple of the affected side. With your thumb on the collar bone you should find the right muscle group between your fingers.

Helpful Stretches

Raise your hands above your head, and grasp a door frame or similar object. Gently lean forward into a stretch to loosen the pectoralis muscles. Sitting in a chair, place the arm behind the back of the chair and gently lean forward, or twist toward the opposite side, to stretch the biceps. Stretch the coracobrachialis by reaching the elbow over your shoulder or around the side, as if you are trying to strike behind you with an elbow.

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