As a personal trainer, I encounter an abundance of people who mention neck, shoulder and upper back pain as a reason why they haven’t worked out recently. Range of motion in the shoulders is necessary for multiple reasons:
- prevent hunchback posture
- keep chest more broad for deeper breathing
- maintain independence in daily activities (getting dressed, brushing hair, etc.)
- keep blood flow to brain and extremities
The interior rotation of the shoulder is the biggest contender. The shoulders slouch forward and the neck is at a disadvantage because muscles are shortened and lengthened, like they shouldn’t be. When this maladaption happens, you aren’t able to look side to side at the same degree, raise your arm fully overhead or to the side or clasp your hands behind your back.
Whether you are physically inactive and don’t practice keeping your shoulder and neck mobility, or you workout the same way every week and your muscles are fatigued from repetitive motions, everyone can benefit from practicing trigger point therapy. You can use a simple tennis ball, lacrosse ball or baseball to massage your own body whenever you need it! The rigidity of the ball is up to you, whether you REALLY need to dig in there and break up those muscle adhesions or have a very sensitive nervous system and don’t want to go too hard too fast. Here’s a quick guide to the benefits of using a ball for massage: https://www.painscience.com/articles/tennis-ball.php
Dr. Laura Perry is a chiropractor and co-founder of The Institute of Trigger Point Therapy in Houston, Texas, and made this comprehensive discussion of shoulder trigger points. There are 3 primary groups of muscles associated with shoulder mobility:
- Shoulder Blade Muscles: The muscles that move and position the scapula, such as the trapezius, pectoralis, and rhomboid muscles
- Rotator Cuff Muscles: The muscles that stabilize the glenohumeral joint during movement, such as the infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, and teres minor muscles.
- Prime Mover Muscles: The muscles that act as the primary movers of the glenohumeral joint, such as the deltoid, pectoralis, and latissimus dorsi muscles.
Looking at this list, you can see that EVERY muscle in the front and back of the upper body contribute to shoulder stability and mobility. Check out Dr. Perry’s article “Shoulder Pain Trigger Points: The Multi-Headed Myofascial Pain Monster” here http://www.triggerpointtherapist.com/blog/shoulder-pain-trigger-points/shoulder-pain-trigger-points-myofascial-pain-monster/
I hope this guidance will help you relieve neck and shoulder pain that you’ve been experiencing lately. Try to do these trigger point release exercises at least every other day. Compliment this with isometric planks, overhead holds, side planks and other stability exercises. Inquisitive about trigger point therapy? Want more guidance or have questions? Comment below or send me an email on my contact page!