One of the most complex parts of the body. They can lift you up, but they can also drag you down if they’re not functioning properly and unfortunately, most of us have some kind of shoulder problem (and some of us may not even know it!).
I have seen countless clients at Michigan Massage and Wellness suffering from shoulder problems. Rotator cuff injuries and pain, frozen shoulder syndrome, tendinitis, shoulder impingements, the list goes on. I even suffered from some shoulder issues (and still do!) as a result of not only my job; massaging people for 13+ years really takes a toll on the body, but my lifestyle and activities (back in my Crossfit days, I was the strongest I had ever been but it would also contribute to the demise of my shoulder health and stability).
The shoulder is a complex joint
When clients come in to the office and say “I have shoulder pain” that is often a loaded question, and can sometimes be a difficult one to find the answer to. As you can see from the photo above, the shoulder is not just one bone/muscle but a complex part of the body. The glenohumeral joint flexes, extends, adducts, abducts and rotates in all areas of direction. Unfortunately the shoulder was built more for stability than mobility and is made up of 3 bones: the clavicle, scapula and humerus.
Your clavicle (or collar bone) runs horizontally along the top of the chest. Next up you have the scapula which is the triangular shaped bone in the upper back. With the clavicle, the scapula plays a role in the stabilization and movement of the arm. Speaking of the arm, the humerus is the bone of the arm. It articulates with the glenoid fossa of the scapula to form the glenohumeral joint.
Muscles of the shoulder
Again, when a client comes in complaining of shoulder pain, WHERE the pain is is just as important as what kind of pain there is. Having trouble pulling your shoulders back? It could be that your trapezius is tight (but lets be honest, who ISN’T tight in their traps?). Rope climbs in the WOD at Crossfit giving you trouble? Your latissimus dorsi and teres major might be playing a role in that.
For the sake of keeping things short and sweet, we are going to talk about the muscles that make up the rotator cuff. SITS. Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Teres Minor and Subscapularis. And the rotator cuff, while not the main focus of the Superhero Shoulders workshop I am hosting, it will be a large part of it as we incorporate Yoga Tune Up® and therapy ball work to get your shoulders back to where they should be and functioning properly.
Your supraspinatus is located deep in the fibers of the upper trapezius. It assists the deltoid with abduction of the shoulder joint and it is the only muscle of the group that is NOT involved in shoulder rotation. If you have trouble with overhead movements such as pull ups or say, painting a ceiling (although who wants to paint a ceiling anyway?) your supraspinatus may be the issue.
The infraspinatus muscle has a portion that is deep to the trapzeius with the lateral portion beneath the deltoid. If you suffer from a shoulder impingement, take a look at the infraspinatus muscle as that can often be the culprit along with the teres minor.
Speaking of the teres minor, it is a small muscle that can be found squeezed between the infraspinatus and teres major. For me and my issues, it stems from my infraspinatus and teres minor and because of where it all ties in along with the subscapularis, it can cause a tremendous amount of shoulder dysfunction.
Lastly we have subscapularis. There is only a small portion of the muscle belly accessible because of its location and it assists in rotating the shoulder medially. Reaching around your back to scratch that itch in the middle of your back is where the subscapularis comes into play.
Now in my practice I have had a lot of clients experience some tremendous relief with Lokte Method. Unfortunately, between having a booked up schedule weeks in advance at times as well as several other factors (lack of time, money, geographic location, etc), it’s not always possible to get into the office for regular appointments. However, look at Carries results with Lokte after an athlete workshop recently!
But my shoulder still bothers me sometimes!
That’s a given. Did you just injure your shoulder recently and it’s only been an issue for a week? Then perhaps one session may work it out. Have you been walking around for 5 years with chronic headaches, back pain, weak shoulders and unable to sit up straight? If that’s the case then I hate to break it to you but one therapy session isn’t going to fix it all. However, consider attending one of our weekly mobility classes or the upcoming Superhero Shoulders workshop to learn easy to do self-care techniques that can help you in your day to day life between your regular massage appointments. (You do have regular massage appointments scheduled, right??). Incorporating the Roll Model® Method therapy balls you’ll develop a better understanding of how the shoulder joint (or any other body part that is troubling you) works while you roll your way through self-massage and self-myofascial release to have you back to your pain free self in no time.
In good hands,
Rebecca Tamm, LMT