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Pectoralis Major Muscle

The pectoralis major ( Latin: pectus = breast) is a thick, fan-shaped muscle, situated at the chest (anterior) of the human body. It makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female. Underneath the pectoralis major is the pectoralis minor, a thin, triangular muscle. The pectoralis major has four actions which are primarily responsible for movement of the shoulder joint. The first action is flexion of the humerus, as in throwing a ball side-arm, and in lifting a child. Secondly, it adducts the humerus, as when flapping the arms. Thirdly, it rotates the humerus medially, as occurs when arm-wrestling. The pectoralis major is also responsible for keeping the arm attached to the trunk of the body. It has two different parts which are responsible for different actions. The clavicular part is close to the deltoid muscle and contributes to flexion, horizontal adduction, and inward rotation of the humerus. When at an approximately 110 degree angle, it contributes to abduction of the humerus. The sternocostal part is antagonistic to the clavicular part contributing to downward and forward movement of the arm and inward rotation when accompanied by adduction. The sternal fibers can also contribute to extension, but not beyond anatomical position.