The Single BEST Technique to Relieve Upper Body Pain – For Wrists, Elbows AND Shoulders

There is one area of the upper body that can wreak havoc on wrists, elbows, shoulders and necks…

The good news is that this ONE area, when released, can also RELAX all of those joints. Releasing this spot can bring significant relief to wrists, shoulders and necks, and often can eliminate elbow issues, especially elbow tendonitis.

This technique can help relieve or eliminate:

  • Grip issues (especially the thumb side)
  • Thumb pain
  • Wrist pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome/pain
  • Elbow tendonitis, tennis elbow, elbow PAIN
  • Shoulder (joint) pain
  • Rotator cuff issues/pain
  • Bicep tendon tears/issues
  • Pain between the shoulder blades (combine with THIS for best results)
  • Neck pain
  • Migraines (not the biggest factor, but certainly a contributor and worth trying. I have more solutions for migraines coming soon!)

One technique.

One SMALL area.

One BIG reward if you commit yourself to mastering this technique.

Any guesses??

I am talking about…

The brachialis.

I’ve said this for years in my private practice: if I had to pick only ONE technique to relieve as many issues in the upper body as possible with one BAM! move, whether someone has carpal tunnel syndrome, elbow pain or neck pain, the brachialis is IT.

Over and over I have seen the MOST relief come from this one in my office, so I know the same will be true for all of you out there.

Before I give you instructions, let’s look at WHY this one small area packs such a huge punch (both in the cause and relief of pain):

Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that we are NOT targeting the muscle here. In the scheme of things, the brachialis as a muscle itself is not a big player in the upper body (compared to say the biceps, pec major or the lats).

The reason this spot is so important is because of its LOCATION. It is a major intersection for ALL kinds of muscles and their fascia, and it is part of a fascial line that connects the wrist to the elbow to the shoulder (and vice versa). Because it us SUCH a major junction it can get seriously CONGESTED, fascially speaking.

This fascial congestion is what wreaks so much havoc, NOT the muscle.

In the above picture we’re getting a SIDE view of the brachialis. You can see how it is directly connected to the biceps, triceps, brachioradialis and deltoid.

The anterior superficial view to the right shows that it also sits under the biceps (notice the two lines leading to the muscle on the left picture over there>>), connecting to the pronator teres, and in the other picture though it’s not visible, imagine it’s just under those triceps (refer to the first pic if you want to “get” this fully), and connects there to all the the extensors of the fingers and wrist.

There is NO other single area in the arms or upper body that has such a profound impact on the elbow, wrist and hand.

Now let’s talk about how it affects shoulders:

This is important information for ANYONE who wants a STABLE SHOULDER JOINT (that should be ALL of us, but especially you CrossFitters, Oly lifters and anyone with shoulder injuries).

I LOVE this picture to the left…AND, what I’m about to tell you next will require a little imagination, because it doesn’t show the FASCIA. But imagine that those three muscles over there (and ALL the other muscles around that brachialis especially) are filled with and covered in fascia (white, collagen, gooey/gluey/watery stuff everywhere).

It’s not hard to imagine when looking at the picture the connection between the brachialis fascia and the SHOULDER JOINT. It’s part of a fascial line (meaning, continuous fascia leading to that coracoid process, where the corachobrachilias and pec minor attach).

The coracoid process along with the acromium serve to stabilize the shoulder.

Now IMAGINE this: the brachialis junction gets so congested that a bunch of dehydrated, crunchy fascia sticks to itself and forms a GOLF BALL sized ball! I’ve seen this over and over in my private practice.

That ball is being formed by the fascia of ALL THE SURROUNDING MUSCLE GROUPS where they meet at the brachialis.

The direction of pull is FROM everywhere upstreamd AND downstream TOWARD that ball as the center point; there is literally pulling from and on ALL muscles, tendons and joints in ALL directions: back toward the upper arm from the wrist and elbow AND down from the shoulder. The direction of pull is to the site of congestion, where that ball of tight fascia forms and grows.

What causes this?

  • Typing on a keyboard
  • Texting
  • Carrying anything (groceries, children, purses etc)
  • WEIGHTLIFTING – almost anything that involves your upper body will affect this area, but especially Olympic lifts and anything like biceps curls, triceps pull downs, pull ups, push-ups, lat pull downs…you get the idea.
  • Basically anything that has your arm bent and/or pushing/pulling weight towards or away from you or holding weight, whether with a straight or bent arm

Release this area and feel the sweet relief!

It is nearly impossible for me to describe in writing how to perform this well. So please watch and re-watch the video until you get this one.

This is a difficult technique to master. We are attempting to mimic something I do with my private clients, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for – both in sensation/anatomy, and the movements – it can be tricky. But…I believe you can do it and I am going to do my best to help you!

Before you even ATTEMPT to use the lacrosse ball release, you must LOCATE the ball of tight fascia.

I show you how to do this in the video.

To get the most out of this technique:

  • You MUST find the LUMP of fascia if you are going to do much good with this one. Locate it first by palpation the way I show in the video, and THEN locate it ON THE LACROSSE BALL. If you cannot locate it on the lacrosse ball…KEEP HUNTING. It is there! If you have wrist, elbow or shoulder issues, I GUARANTEE it is there. Keep searching.
  • ONCE YOU FIND THE LUMP: your MISSION with this one is to PIN that lump of fascia to the lacrosse ball, and PIN that lacrosse ball to the poll or doorway. That ball should NOT be moving much while you perform this technique.
  • Do NOT simply massage that lump around with the ball…that is basically like pushing around a giant marble in a mesh sack and won’t do anything to actually break it up, which is what you need to do.
  • Make sure you don’t hit a NERVE! Nerve pain feels electricial, “zingy,” sharp/shooting…if you feel anything like that come off, move your arm, give it a minute and find a different spot.
  • Once you’ve mastered pinning that lump to the ball and the ball to the poll, move your arm. Rotate your arm at the elbow until you feel that lump CRUNCH on the ball. THIS IS GOOD! You WANT that crunch to happen. Your mission is to break it up WHILE stretching every fascial line connected to this spot.
  • You stretch the entire fascial line by spreading your fingers wide, reaching your arm away from your shoulder and manipulating your arm AROUND THAT LUMP.
  • Once you find the right technique, stay with it for a good 30 seconds to a minute on one spot. Then find another. A centimeter can actually make a big difference, so when first learning this one, go ahead and try to find about 4 spots.
  • Your total “work” time should be about 3-4 minutes. There will be a bigger learning curve in the beginning, AND it will suck the most the first few times.
  • If you have pain you’re trying to eliminate, do this once a day for a week and I bet you’ll see dramatic improvement and/or elimination of your issue (depending).
  • I have more techniques coming in the next month or so for shoulder issues, so stay tuned for this. They will make a great addition to this one for you.

Go for it! Give this a try and come talk to me…how do you feel?

If you liked this technique please “like” and share it!

  • Angi says:

    Thank you so much for all your content. So helpful! This one is especially good for me as I’ve been having alot of pain in my elbow from over use as a massage therapist. Can’t wait to get started on this for myself and be able to share it with my clients!

  • Meri says:

    I discovered the existence of my brachialis a couple of years ago on a spa trip, the jet of water hit the mark and my daughter said that I about jumped out of that pool =D But since then I’ve used that method as well, when I’ve had access to a pool with jets, the trick with the most painful spots is to stand further away from the spouts of the water jets than I did that first time. Not always as precise as releasing with a ball, but definitely helpful when your fascial self is trying to whole-body strangle you, which is what mine does both in the cold and in severe heat.

  • Mark G says:

    Hey Elisha,
    Thanks for the quick response, much appreciated. I have take the approach you described, continuing to utilize this method with my lacross ball to hit multiple areas of this muscle. My elbow responds with each session, ease of motion and decrease of overall stiffness occurs each and every time. My job (engineering, computers, etc) doens’t help, buI press onward with a plethora of devices to move, stretch and strengthen all of these muscles that surround and support the elbow tendon. Cycling season has arrived here in New Hampshire, so yeah, I do lot of self treatment regarding trigger points, and now delving into the myofacia side of anatomy and understand the how’s and why’s regarding injuries and general soreness… amazing stuff. The more you know!
    Again, thanks, love all your videos. -Mark

  • Mark G says:

    Hi Elisha,
    This detailed information on the brachialis pretty much closed out my 4-month golfers elbow episode (still have that 5% lingering around). Thanks so much, I never considered this until I continued my research to self treat. It’s funny, because I did feel discomfort in the upper arm region yet still addressed the lower arm closer to the actual tendon.
    However, I will say that I never did locate anything close to what you described as a large lumpy region. Regardless, I still performed this routine along with many of the others I included. I’ve had golfers elbow 4 or 5 times in the past 20-ish years and I NEVER want to endure it again. Could you possibly offer any guidence towards pre-hab for this, which is where I am placing a LOT of my focus these days (pre-hab, not sustaining injuries!!).
    Thanks a lot!

    • Hey Mark – so happy to hear of your success! Honestly it’s almost impossible for me to properly assess anyone without getting more background info, and looking at your anatomy. I do offer Skype or FaceTime consultations for that reason. I could help you find that “knot” or clunk if it’s there and you are missing it for some reason, as well as help you problem solve the best pre-hab routine based on what I see and what you tell me. Full disclosure, it’s $200 for one hour but we should be able to totally get you sorted in that time for this issue. If interested you can email me here: [email protected] If not, I just recommend continuing to find the most ahdesed or sore/tender places of fascia in your arms upstream and downstream, and keep the fascia healthy. Either way I’m cheering you on 🙂

  • […] of doing this technique! Good places to check are your biceps and front deltoid, pec minor and brachialis for […]

  • Jo says:

    Hi Elisha,

    Thanks very much for this article. I am struggling for a year now with an anterior external pain in my arm and can’t find the issue. I recognize every aspect of my case in your article. I do lift and did some climbing. I’ve seen different specialists but no one found anything with my arm. I did an ultrasound scan but they only found a sub-acromial bursitis.
    However, I don’t have any pain in the shoulder even when lifting heavy weights. It does not seem to come from biceps brachii either.

    I have some questions for you if you can help me :
    – My brachialis on this side is much more swollen than on the other arm. I can clearly feel it with my fingers. I can’t find any lump, the whole muscle is swollen. Should I hit the whole muscle with the lacrosse ball ?
    – Do you think my sub-acromial bursitis can be linked to this issue ?

    Thanks very much for your help.

    • Hi Jo – somehow your comment slipped under my radar and I never replied! I apologize for the delay. If you’re still struggling with this issue and your brachialis area is swollen on the one side, I would recommend trying a Skype session with me or otherwise trying to find the ROOT cause of pain and inflammation. Most of the time what’s inflamed and/or in pain is NOT the problem. Let me know if you still need help with this and I’ll do my best!

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Elisha – I think I did do the rhomboids before the lats. I was going thru your videos on Youtube and did not see the blog post. I will be sure to go back and read thru it. I did get AMAZING relief after doing the ITB stretch, so I will certainly stay with this technique, I think it really works wonders. I know that this kind of work is hard to get exactly right sometimes unless someone is working with you. I will check out the info on Skype sessions. thanks.

  • Lisa says:

    I tried this yesterday along with rhomboid video. Now, today something feels off on the front of my shoulder. That is not a place I usually have a problem. I’m wondering what I did wrong.

    • Hey Lisa – What exactly feels “off” in the front of the shoulder? Did you perform these techniques to get OUT of pain, and if so where was/is the pain? I’m guessing mid back pain? Did you do the LAT release BEFORE doing the rhomboid technique? I stress this for good reason in the blog post, because it matters quite a bit for pain between the shoulder blades. Going to the rhomboids before releasing the lats can make things worse. It’s incredibly difficult to say why you may have pain in the front of the shoulder without knowing exactly how you performed the techniques, what exactly is going in structurally and soft-tissue wise in your body etc. In my private practice it’s not unusual for pain to “move” as we work, and I am almost always able to chase it out of the body and find the original/root cause of pain. Without a lot more information it’s hard for me to help you. I do offer Skype sessions.

  • FeetSavior says:

    Hi Elisha,

    Thank you for stretch! I need it and I’ll try it as soon as I get a Lacrosse ball 🙂

  • Charlie Tooch says:

    Would love some tips for inside the the elbow pain?

  • Ashley says:

    Awesome thank you for the great tips! Do you have any techniques for the forarms?

    • Hey Ashley! I do, and they are coming in the next few months…sorry to make you wait but do keep your eyes out for those, they are coming!

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