The Benefits of Shoulder Massage

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"You've got a good head on your shoulders." "They gave me the cold shoulder." "Lay your head on my shoulder." "Let's shoulder the burden." "I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders."

We draw a lot of comparisons to shoulders, probably because they're so useful and versatile. Lifting, throwing, pulling and just about any other activity involving your hands and arms requires shoulder mobility.

We've all seen characters in movies and TV shows rotating their shoulders to indicate they feel overwhelmed, stressed or exhausted. It's such a common occurrence that many people don't even realize they're doing the same thing themselves when getting up from their desk, or taking off their shirt at night. Shoulder pain is so frequent that almost everyone thinks it's a necessary burden.


A torn rotator cuff or dislocated shoulder can make it difficult to move your arm, but so can simply sitting in one position for too long. No matter what causes the stiffness or soreness, shoulder massage is an effective way of increasing your range of motion. That's because it increases the supply of fresh blood to your muscles, providing them with oxygen-rich nutrients.

Deep tissue massage, which works across the grain of your muscles, or Swedish massage, which works with the grain, can provide relief of tension, stiffness and pain.


Elaine Calenda of Boulder, Colorado's College of Massage Therapy identifies the leading causes of shoulder pain as weak muscles, bad posture and occasional bouts of intense activity.

People often don't recognize their lack of mobility until a weekend of unusual exertion leaves them with sore shoulders. While shoulder massage techniques can provide relief after the fact, continued massage therapy can mean avoiding similar problems after the next weekend challenge.

"By increasing neck and shoulder range of motion," Calenda explains, "massage helps prevent future strain."


There's no replacement for a professional massage therapist. Even though rubbing your own neck or shoulder with the opposite hand can provide temporary relief, an expert knows how to direct pressure for the best results.

You might feel some lumps giving way under the pressure, which indicates that the muscle and tissue adhesions causing your pain are breaking up. Your Massage Envy therapist can recommend the right amount of pressure, but your input is important in ensuring that you receive the best possible shoulder massage.


While adhesive capsulitis (more commonly known as frozen shoulder) is a specific condition that takes as long as a year or two to heal, it often benefits from the same shoulder massage techniques that relieve other types of shoulder pain. These include:
  • Swedish Massage - actually increases the level of oxygen in your blood, leading to a decrease in muscle toxins and improved circulation.
  • Trigger Point Therapy actively identifies the location and intensity of sensation, providing natural management of chronic pain. Often, a single treatment results in a noticeable reduction of pain while ongoing treatment provides even more effective relief.

Want to learn more? Check out our many great articles on therapeutic massage.

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