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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.