Shoulder Rotation in Massage

By Laura Gordon

Wake up with shoulders aching or find that it hurts to reach up to that high shelf or even across your dinning room table.  Poor range of motion in your shoulder joint may be the problem. Range of motion is a critical part of massage for clients of all ages. It helps maintain client mobility and flexibility. For the shoulder region it assists in releasing tension in the neck, shoulder and upper back region, and as with the rest of the body, range of motion keeps the toxins flowing through the joints from the muscles that have or will be worked on.
This technique, that I use in my own practice, should be added at the conclusion of any anterior arm and hand massage routine:

1.) With client lying supine, bend their arm at the elbow;
2.) Step into a lunge stance leaning the hip against the massage table for additional support;
3.) Slide hand (right hand under right shoulder, left hand under left shoulder) between arm and torso at the shoulder girdle with fingers curling around the superior lateral aspect of the trapezius near the rotator cuff*;
4.) Place free hand on top of the rotator cuff;
5.) Lift shoulder girdle anteriorly and rotate clockwise in a circular motion forward, down, back and up three times;
6.) Reverse the circular movement (pressing down on the rotator cuff with the top hand) in a counter clockwise rotation;
7.) Conclude by sliding both hands down the arm to the forearm and wrist;
8.) Clasp the forearm with one hand and wrist with the other and pull toward the client’s feet with mild force;
9.) Replace arm on the table and repeat steps on the other arm.
*If the therapist experiences pain twisting the wrist and or the forearm under the shoulder, use the forearm to perform the rotation.
Challenge:  Apply this technique on two clients. Ask the clients what they liked and didn’t like about it and report their comments and your experience in performing the technique.

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