Massage Aha!

Professional therapeutic massage therapy in Kansas City, MO by Aaron Harris, BCTMB

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The Teres Major and Teres Minor Muscles


The Teres Major and Teres Minor muscles lie at the bottom outside edge of the shoulder blades (scapulae). Teres Minor is one of the four muscles of the “rotator cuff.”

Teres Major and Minor
The location of Teres Major and Teres Minor.

Teres Minor

This muscle acts as the “little brother” of the Infraspinatus muscle, meaning it assists Infraspinatus with external rotation of the humerus (upper arm).

It attaches the lateral border of the scapula to the humerus.

Teres Minor
The location of Teres Minor.

Trigger Points in T. Minor

Pain from trigger points in this smaller muscles is referred into the posterior fibers of the Deltoid in an area about the size of a silver dollar. The pain often spills down the back of the arm.

Trigger point in Teres Minor
Trigger point (marked by X) and the referral pain pattern (marked by blue) of Teres Minor

Teres Major

This muscle assists with the adduction (bringing closer to the body), internal rotation, and extension of the arm. The muscles only becomes active when there is resistance to these motions, and does not engage with normal, non-resisted motion.

It attaches the bottom point of the scapula to the inside edge of the humerus.

Teres Major
The location of Teres Major.

Trigger Points in T. Major

There are two common trigger point locations in Teres Major, which refer pain deep into the posterior Deltoid. Occasionally, this rarely used muscle causes pain on the dorsal (pinky finger side) of the forearm.

Trigger Points in Teres Major
Trigger points (marked by X) and the referral pain pattern (marked in blue) of Teres Major.

Massage of These Muscles

Because T. Minor involvement can be one of the causes of rotator cuff and shoulder pain, it is commonly addressed with all massage modalities. T. Major is often assessed by massage therapists, but because it is not a muscle that most people use on a regular basis, it is rarely the cause of pain.

Trigger point therapy and deep tissue techniques are useful for helping restore movement in T. Minor. Swedish massage will do some light work on both muscles, but this technique does not generally focus on either muscle.

Athletes can benefit from active and rapid release techniques to soften tense fibers.

Shoulder pain is one of the most common reasons a client seeks a mobile massage. It is often hard to pinpoint the source of this pain, so I spend a lot of time focusing on all four rotator cuff muscles, including Teres Minor.

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