When I was a massage therapist (way back in 2008!) every single client who walked into my office asked me (some even begged me) to dig into their shoulders. Regardless of whether or not they had other issues (and most did, like low back pain, hip pain, etc), they all wanted their shoulders to get some relief from carrying the weight of the world.
For my entire short lived (year long) career as a massage therapist, I made people feel amazing for an hour or 90 minutes. They left feeling loosey goosey, a little high and finally at peace. But every time they came back their shoulders would be right back where they were before: stiff, achy, sore and in need of some major love (or a beat down, which a lot of people requested).
I quit massage therapy in large part because, though I was very good at it, I never helped permanently reverse my clients’ pain. I’m a very goal oriented person, so this wasn’t ok with me!
If you want to permanently reverse your shoulder tension, then you need to commit yourself to not only getting the proper areas of fascia released (which is not necessarily your shoulders or traps), you MUST also strengthen your mid back muscles.
Sure, the human body can adapt to “poor” posture. You may even live that way without serious pain; for a few decades. Trust me though when I tell you, you do NOT want to end up like my older clients who are 70 or 75 and wishing desperately they had learned all of this earlier, before compensation pattern piled onto compensation pattern and a lifetime of poor posture and stressful bio-mechanics caught up to them.
Start Strengthening NOW! (You can ‘release’ any time)
These exercises will take some time to carve new neural pathways and build healthier structure so I say don’t delay for any reason, start NOW. They will yield small rewards quickly that will build over time, and you can ‘release’ the tight areas as soon as you can make time (how to’s for that at the bottom of this article).
What we’re targeting:
The upper traps are one of the most overworked and overactive muscles, ready to work for us at any given moment. No wonder they’re so tired and angry (stiff/sore/achy)!
To counteract this overactive pattern we have to strengthen the lower traps and actively STOP engaging the upper traps during so many upper body exercises.
The following exercises target the lower traps, rhomboids and lats with short intentional movements of the shoulder girdle: downward rotation (depressing the scapula), and retraction (pulling the scapula back towards the spine).