Massage Therapy For Shoulder Pain.

Massage therapy is an excellent tool for decreasing pain and muscle spasms. We use it quite frequently for patients with shoulder pain. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that is controlled by numerous muscles. The muscles help pull the humerus into flexion, extension, abduction, abduction, horizontal movements, and rotation. To do this the muscles have one end anchored (origin) and the moveable end (insertion.). Several muscles originate at the scapula. The scapula needs to be stabilized to the spine through other muscles. The pulling mechanism of all muscles requires that one point is “fixed to a location,” and the movements are going to bring the other end towards the fixed end. Imagine placing your arms on a pull up bar. The pulling motion is going to pull your chest towards the bar, because the bar will not be moved towards your chest.

When we think of the shoulder and all of its muscles, we think of many places for potential injury. Shoulder pain is common in active individuals, especially the rotator cuff muscles and tendons. I was looking for research articles on massage therapy and came across this one which I found kind of humerus (pun intended.)

So the study tried to compare the benefits of massage therapy with aggressively focusing on the injured area and to Swedish massage where treatment is dispersed over the entire body. Patients were given 10 treatment sessions of massage. Both groups showed a decrease in pain after their 10 sessions. The group where treatment was focused mostly on the shoulder showed the greatest benefit.

Anyone familiar with massage would not be surprised by these findings. Massage therapy requires a significant amount of effort to focus on injured muscles. Having more time to concentrate on the injured areas usually provides more relief and faster changes.

So the study confirms what you already know, that working on an area more is going to have the greatest benefit. Below is the abstracting case you’re interested. More information for therapeutic treatments utilizing Massage Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Chiropractic can be directed to Google+.

Volume 36, Issue 7 , Pages 418-427, September 20132

Comparison of Massage Based on the Tensegrity Principle and Classic Massage in Treating Chronic Shoulder Pain

Krzysztof Kassolik, PT, PhD, Waldemar Andrzejewski, PT, PhD, Marcin Brzozowski, PT, MSc, Iwona Wilk, PT, MSc, Lucyna Górecka-Midura, PT, MSc, Bożena Ostrowska, PT, PhD, Dominik Krzyżanowski, PT, MSc, Donata Kurpas, MD, PhD

Received 22 September 2010; received in revised form 14 January 2012; accepted 22 January 2012. published online 29 July 2013.



The purpose of this study was to compare the clinical outcomes of classic massage to massage based on the tensegrity principle for patients with chronic idiopathic shoulder pain.


Thirty subjects with chronic shoulder pain symptoms were divided into 2 groups, 15 subjects received classic (Swedish)massage to tissues surrounding the glenohumeral joint and 15 subjects received the massage using techniques based on the tensegrity principle. The tensegrity principle is based on directing treatment to the painful area and the tissues (muscles, fascia, and ligaments) that structurally support the painful area, thus treating tissues that have direct and indirect influence on the motion segment. Both treatment groups received 10 sessions over 2 weeks, each session lasted 20 minutes. The McGill Pain Questionnaire and glenohumeral ranges of motion were measured immediately before the first massage session, on the day the therapy ended 2 weeks after therapy started, and 1 month after the last massage.


Subjects receiving massage based on the tensegrity principle demonstrated statistically significance improvement in the passive and active ranges of flexion and abduction of the glenohumeral joint. Pain decreased in both massage groups.


This study showed increases in passive and active ranges of motion for flexion and abduction in patients who had massagebased on the tensegrity principle. For pain outcomes, both classic and tensegrity massage groups demonstrated improvement.

© 2013 National University of Health Sciences. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. PubMed