Did you know that there are 24 different muscles used in the movement of each of your shoulders?
As a consequence, as soon as a single shoulder muscle has a problem, one (or several) movements of that shoulder are altered. Over time more and more muscles become dysfunctional, and in turn start hurting and becoming stiff.
Stiffness sets in as muscles become shortened, and this leads to an increased pull on the joints to which they are attached. As a result free movement is impaired, and this in turn can lead to increased wear and tear on the shoulder joints.
Muscular shoulder pain can also develop suddenly, for example when you incur an injury to one or both of your shoulders. Such an injury almost always affects the muscles, which then need to be treated by massage.
The shoulder’s main task is to move the arm in every possible direction. For this to be fully effective, every muscle needs to be in perfect shape so as to allow the greatest range of motion. To ensure this, all shoulder muscles must be used and exercised equally - which is almost impossible to achieve in today’s world.
Too often we use our shoulders in repetitive movements as we pursue the same action for many hours each week.
We do so when we play our favourite sport, or when we use the computer keyboard much too long, or whilst performing repetitive tasks at work, or when playing a musical instrument.
By doing such repetitive movements the muscles become easily overloaded and set up trigger / tender points (small contractions in the muscle fibers), which send out pain signals.
Another stress factor for shoulder muscles is a bad posture. Therefore it is not always enough simply to work on the shoulder muscles alone. Often these muscles have had to work harder because one hip is higher than the other (the cause of this can be muscular, as well) or the head is tilted too far forward.
Last but not least, shoulders are prone to injury – perhaps as a consequence of a sporting or car accident, or simply because of a bad fall. When one falls, one instinctively tries to catch oneself, and in doing so often pulls a muscle severely.
Bearing in mind that most shoulder problems start with the attached muscles, treatment should start with the muscles first even when the pain is already felt in a shoulder joint or bursa.
Often this kind of pain is nothing else than referred pain from a trigger point.
Using massage and trigger point therapy to release the tight, shortened muscles, one will find that they slowly return to their normal length, thereby freeing up the joints and allowing a greater range of motion and more flexibility.
Therapeutic massage can be used to treat most shoulder conditions, and may be so beneficial that it can remove the need for surgery.
At ToThePoint Massage we deem it important to look at the cause of your shoulder pain or stiffness (e.g. injury, bad posture, bad habits) - so that we can treat all the body parts which are involved in your dysfunction.
We also discuss possible changes you could make in your everyday life which would decrease unnecessary overload on your shoulders and muscles and thereby help you avoid future problems.
References: Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction, Dr. Janet Travell, Dr. David Simons & Lois Simons,2nd edition, vol 1,1999 pages 485ff
Treatment of myofascial trigger points in patients with chronic shoulder pain: