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Massage therapy helps shoulder pain and rotator cuff in Hamilton 

Massage therapy helps shoulder pain and rotator cuff in Hamilton

By Chirag Sojitra 03/06/2012


Muscles surrounding shoulder joint: -

Pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, rhomboid major, rhomboid minor, trapezius, serratus, sub-scapularis, supra-spinatus, infra-spinatus, biceps brachii, triceps, brachi-radialis, brachialis, latissimus dorsi, teres minor, teres major. That makes sixteen muscles.


Shoulder joint movement:

The movement of the arm on the shoulder works on many planes and axes. The axes are the x, y, and z.

The 'X' axis is the easiest one to learn as it moves the arm from front to back, or sagitally (the sagittal plane is a front to back cross-section dividing the body left from right). When the arm is moved from resting at the side frontwards towards the head is called flexion. When the arm is moved backwards behind the body is called extension. The muscles involved with flexion are the front-anterior muscles: biceps, brachialis, radio-brachialis. The muscles involved in extension are the latissimus dorsi and triceps.

The 'Y' axis involves the movement of the arm along the frontal plane (the frontal plane cuts the body front to back vertically), from the side at rest into abduction raising the arm to the top of the head. The muscles involved are the supra-spinatus, deltoid and trapezius. When the arm is taken across the chest in horizontal adduction the muscles involved are the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, serratus, and anterior deltoid.

The 'Z; axis involves the motion of the rotation of the arm. With the arm fully extended and raised to shoulder height the 'z' axis goes through the body from left arm to right arm. When the arm is internally rotated, starting with palm facing front and thumbs up rotating arms till thumbs are down and palms back, the muscles involved in this motion are the teres major and some latissimus dorsi.

When rotating backwards or exteriorly the muscles involved is the teres minor.


Rotator cuff:

While these muscles mentioned above are moving the arm through its range of motions the rotator cuff muscles are stabilizing the arm by keeping it tightly in the gleno-humeral joint. There are three principal rotator cuff muscles: the supraspinatus, on the top, which lifts the arm as well. The subscapularis, which is beneath the scapula (shoulder-blade), the infra-spinatus, which is over the scapula, and teres minor to a lesser degree because of its attachments, offers less stabilization than the other three muscles yet can be considered an accessory.

Because of the loosed-pack nature of the shoulder joint meaning that because the joint is shallow there is maximum flexibility and motion of the joint, as can be experienced by performing a 360 degree rotation of the arm either in flexion or extension.

Although it is not without some amount of resistance that this motion is performed because there are always antagonists to agonists, i.e.: the agonists are the muscles, which are contracting while the antagonists are the opposing muscles, which are relaxing. So it is quite a complex feat that when we perform the arm circumrotation that we do not experience some pain or limitations of movement.

Which is precisely what we experience when we have shoulder injury or limitation causing pain.



Massage therapy for shoulder pain treatment:

The most of the injuries to the shoulder are involving tendonitis, bursitis, and muscle contractures and adhesions.

The four types of injuries result from the repetitious nature of weight training or strengthening. There is placed an excessive strain on the tendons, bursas and muscles resulting in inflammation, tearing, compressing of bursae, and repeated contractures of muscles and resulting adhesions.

Stopping the straining and applying ice to relieve the inflammation process can only heal the tendonitis and bursitis. The muscles can be treated for contractures and adhesions with massage.

Often clients of the fitness centre refuse to modify or reduce their weight training to alleviate the injury and persist to train through the pain magnifying their injury and pain. Those who choose to stop their weight training long enough for the inflammation process to subside and heal have well to complete recovery.

Massage is a helpful treatment for frozen shoulder because it increases blood flow to the injured area and helps to reduce scar tissue. Regular massage treatments are needed to reduce muscle stiffness, and you may not start to feel relief until after several massage treatments.


A combination of techniques, performed by an experienced massage therapist, will provide shoulder pain relief and help your recovery during the “thawing,” or recovery stage of the condition.


Deep-tissue massage is a common technique used to treat frozen shoulder. With this technique, the therapist applies steady pressure to the muscles to release adhesions or scar tissue that may be contributing to shoulder pain. A Japanese form of deep-tissue massage, called shiatsu, involves deep pressure on specific areas of the body, called acupressure points, to adjust energy flow (“Ki” in Japanese) through the body, thereby reducing pain. Deep-tissue massage techniques should be avoided during times of acute shoulder pain, inflammation, or swelling.


Other massage techniques for frozen shoulder include trigger point therapy, in which steady pressure is applied to targeted points within muscles to relieve muscle spasms, and Swedish massage, which involves gentle kneading and long strokes applied to surface muscle tissues to reduce stress and tension.


Heat therapy, applied immediately before or after massage, is also very beneficial in treating frozen shoulder.


The general massage techniques to the pectoralis, deltoid, latissimus dorsi, biceps and triceps, and other superficial muscles, which surround the shoulder joint. This then allows me to pay attention to the rotator cuff muscles. What I can do is reduce muscle tone, work out some contractures and adhesions in the deltoids and pectoralis and rotator cuff muscles taking the strain off the tendons and bursae. Then time does the healing with a much reduced weight training regimen or with complete termination of weight training until the inflammation of tendons and bursae occurs, which may take one to four weeks depending on the severity of the tendonitis/bursitis.

I found that weekly massage treatments of one-half hour to one-hour depending on the client is adequate for complete treatment of this condition.



Self-Shoulder massage techniques:

If your shoulder pain is not severe, you may want to administer self-shoulder massage techniques while you are at home. Start by squeezing your injured shoulder with the opposite hand. Then, kneed the shoulder repeatedly. You can also make circular pressure with your fingertips on both sides of your spine. Try applying penetrating massage oil to the shoulder to ensure smooth movements.

You can also incorporate heat and cold into your shoulder massage. Applying ice to your sore shoulder will reduce both inflammation and pain, while heat relaxes your tense muscles for additional pain relief.


Call Centre Of Balance Hamilton and book an appointment on 07-855 7115 now or email us.


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