To Permanently Reverse Sore, Achy, Stiff Shoulders: Do THIS & Stop Spending so Much Money on Massage Results that Never Last!

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).

Create new neural pathways and healthy habits:

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Ultimate Chest and Deltoid Release for Maximum Upper Body Freedom – Get Your Shoulders Back & Down!

I can hardly contain my excitement about this one!!!

Some of the techniques I’ve come up with here at Mobility Mastery can mimic what I do with my private clients to very satisfying degrees, but I’ve spent years wondering how on earth I can give you all out there the chance to experience the kind of lasting upper body relief that a proper chest release can bring – like the kind I’m able to offer my in-person clients. I finally cracked the code on this a few weeks ago!

That’s the good news.

The “bad” news is you’re going to need a very specific medicine ball to get the most out of this one. For a link to a ball that looks similar to the one I have (I can’t guarantee you that it is as I haven’t used this one) that you can purchase on Amazon – click here. (I have no affiliation with this company).

PLEASE NOTE: a baseball, lacrosse ball, larger medicine ball or just about anything NOT what I demo in the video or link to above will NOT give you the best result, may cause bruising and soreness and I do not really recommend using any of these other balls for these reasons. The next best thing would be a SOFTBALL – it’s not going to mold to your body as well, but I’ve tried it and it works ok!

Why release your chest?

I would argue that everyone (at least in the western world) needs this one! We’re all slumped over desks and phones these days, and if you’re in another category of work like a farmer or factory worker then you’re definitely going to have tight fascia here too.

As you can see from the photo there are a lot of converging muscles, nerves and fascia here. The fascia of pec major can get stuck to the fascia of pec minor along with the front deltoid, leading to a “clogged” or stuck intersection, which can definitely lead to pain, less range of motion and shoulder joint issues.

The goal with this technique is to release that front fascia enough that the shoulders are freed to drop back and down where they’re supposed to be, which will relieve the neck and head as well as the arms and even your hips!

Use this technique to relieve or eliminate:

  • Shoulder pain – front, back or rotator cuff issues
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Forward head posture
  • Pelvic tilts due to shoulder imbalances
  • Pec minor adhesions or restriction
  • Shallow breathing due to chest tightness
  • Jaw and TMJ pain

In combination with other Mobility Mastery techniques can relieve or eliminate:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Elbow pain
  • Grip issues
  • Mid back pain
  • and more

How to perform this technique:

  • For the BEST results, please use a Mobility Mastery approved ball and a foam roller (preferably a soft foam roller, but if you want to simultaneously release your quad fascia then by all means go with a hard one 😛 )
  • Your thighs will be resting on the foam roller, and you can use your hip angle to put more or less weight into the ball to compress your chest fascia in whatever way works best for you. Keep in mind that the more weight/compression you can use the better your result will be, however – it will be more intense during the technique!
  • MOVE S L O W L Y !!! I cannot emphasize this enough. Slow movement helps you target the right spots, release fascia effectively and rushing through anything has a tendency to let your brain bypass the experience and not even register that something happened! In other words – if you move fast, you won’t get much benefit.
  • Go ahead and experiment with ball placement, arm movement, rotation, bending and reaching – there’s not “wrong” way to do this if it works for you! And every one of us has different anatomy, so what works for me might not work for you.
  • That said, most of you will get a good result with the bending reaching, especially arm moving “above” your head (on the ground), and if you have restriction in the front deltoid, definitely try the rotations!
  • Spend at least 3-4 minutes per side when you first learn this technique. After you master it you can spend less time. This one can often feel kind of good – and I’m not sure we can do “too much,” because it would simply feel like nothing if the fascia were healthy. So as long as it feels beneficial and you’re keen to get after it – go for it!
  • Remember to BREATHE!
  • Get up when you’re done with one side and move around – you’ll likely notice a significant difference left to right!

 

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How to Release Your Pec Minor Fascia – For Shoulder Pain & Shoulder Mobility Issues

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Pec minor – a small but very important muscle!

If you have shoulder issues of any kind – from shoulder pain, rotator cuff or shoulder mobility issues (including partially frozen shoulders or seriously forward rotated shoulders) then this technique should be at the top of your list for self-help techniques.

If you have breathing or rib issues this could be related as well.

Pec minor is actually somewhat difficult to get into. Pec major and the clavipectoral fascia sit on top of it, and when your arm is resting or hanging at your side you can’t get into it at all. In order to get at this triple headed small muscle and its fascia you’ll need to raise your arm and target a very specific spot for release. (I show you exactly how in the video).

To be clear, what we’re actually going after here is the fascial adhesion that can occur between pec minor and pec major (specifically the , the clavipectoral fascia and possibly coracobrachilais as well.

For such a small muscle, pec minor plays a critical role in shoulder joint, scapular/rotator cuff and rib health.

From the picture to the left you can see how (because of its attachment at the coracoid process of the scapula), if shortened or adhesed, pec minor can pull both the shoulder joint and the scapula into forward rotation, and/or elevate the ribs. Someone who, later in life, has a serious hunch or “wings” showing in the upper back – you can bet they have a very short, tight, adhesed pec minor (in addition to probably a lot of other fascial tightness in the front as well).

If you’re someone who has ribs “go out” a lot, I would instantly suspect ridiculously tight pec minor tissue. This would not be the thing itself that makes a rib go out, it just sets you up and makes it much more likely. This has been true of my clients who play lacrosse, train jiu jitsu or those who have experienced a traumatic fall or impact such as a car accident, falling onto a shoulder or their head while snowboarding etc.

How to get the most out of this technique:

  • You’ll need a lacrosse ball for this one. I do NOT recommend a tennis ball, softball, golf ball or really any other ball. This particular area is SO TRICKY to get into in a way that you can hold the position, so you’ll need the grip or stickiness of the lacrosse ball to make it work.
  • Spend however long you need to get the right spot! This technique will be almost useless (for its intended purpose anyway) if you don’t successfully find pec minor. It can be incredibly tricky to nail. Watch the video as many times as you need to get it right.
  • Look for (or FEEL for) a slight “THUMP” that would indicate an adhesion between pec minor and pec major.
  • MOVE SLOOOOOOOWLY. Slowly. Very very slowly.
  • Did I say move SLOWLY? Haha. If you move too fast on this one you’ll pop off of pec minor in half a second and not even know it.
  • There are probably only 2-3 spots MAX you can find and release here. Most people probably only have two spots worth doing.
  • Spend 20-30 seconds on each spot WHEN YOU GET IT RIGHT. If it takes 10 seconds at a time to find and re-find a good spot, that’s ok.
  • Move your arm after!
  • Notice what changed, if anything.
  • Obviously, if you have a serious impingement, mobility issue or pain present, this technique alone probably isn’t going to eliminate it. Use the search function on this website to find other techniques for your particular issue, or leave a comment with your questions.

 

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Two Easy Stretches for Your Shoulder JOINT that FEEL GOOD & Increase ROM

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These are two great stretches for your shoulder JOINT.

If you have stiff shoulders, a partially frozen shoulder (please do not attempt this if you have a fully frozen shoulder!) or you’re a serious Oly or weight lifter then these two stretches could benefit you.

I don’t have a lot to add here that isn’t in the video. This one is best explained on camera!

I learned both of these stretches 4 years ago from my personal trainer when I was doing a lot of Olympic lifting and he wanted to make sure my shoulders were warmed up properly.

I’ve shown these stretches to clients who have very stiff shoulder joints, those who have had shoulder surgery and have some scar tissue in and around the joint, and to the few clients I’ve worked with who have partially frozen shoulders. They’ve all really liked them and, when used regularly, have reported an increase in range of motion and more ease in the joint.

Get the most out of these stretches:

  • Make sure with both of these techniques that the angle of your lower and upper arm, AND humerus (upper arm) and body are at 90 degrees (as pictured to the right)
  • DO NOT PUSH BEYOND A GOOD STRETCH
  • You shouldn’t be cranking down on your joint with a lot of force, nor should these stretches feel painful; these work better with a gentle approach and the stretch should feel mostly GOOD
  • Use PNF principles to get the best result: PNF stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and the idea is to use GENTLE muscle activation by pushing against the direction of the stretch in a resisted manner for about 3 seconds.
  • After you do this, release the stretch completely, then repeat.
  • PLEASE watch the video for a demonstration of what this all means.
  • I like to repeat the PNF stretch 3 times, and then
  • On the last repitition (the 4th) HOLD THE STRETCH
  • Hold the last stretch for anywhere from 20 seconds to a minute, then move around

 

 

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Subscribe here and on YouTube for new posts every Monday.

For personalized help with head to toe pain issues, click here to schedule a private Skype consultation with Elisha Celeste. SUBSCRIBE below and get $15 off your first session.