Anterior shoulder pain – Self-treatment

Anterior shoulder pain, or pain in the front of the shoulder is triggered in most cases by high muscle tension and trigger points.

You can usually relieve the pain quickly and get rid of it within a few weeks by massaging the muscles in question yourself.

On this page, you will learn which muscles may be responsible for anterior shoulder pain and how to loosen them yourself.

1. Anterior shoulder pain relief

The self-massage of specific regions and muscles that can cause pain in your shoulder is described in the following sections.

Check these areas and muscles for sensitivity to pressure and focus your massage on the ones that are sensitive.

This time inspecting your body is time spent well!

Important: If your muscles are healthy, you should not feel any excessive sensitivity or even pain when you apply pressure.

These two symptoms are warning signs sent by your muscles that indicate that something is wrong.

If a muscle is tense or painful, then you should massage it.

2. Anterior shoulder pain: Description of the self-massage

In order to not make the text too long or repetitive, I will give you the main instructions upfront.

  • During the massage, you are looking for strained and painful muscles.
  • Once you find one, massage it exclusively a couple of times with short and precise massage strokes.
  • Another possibility is to apply pressure and then carry out some movements.

2.1 Anterior shoulder pain: Self-massage of the middle of the back

Muscle: Latissimus dorsi

Let’s start the massage of this area with the latissimus dorsi.

This muscle can cause pain in the front of the shoulder. For this area I recommend using a massage ball.

  • Place the ball on the side of your chest, in the area of the lower half of the ribs.
  • Press against a wall and roll the ball slowly around your body from the front to the rear, moving from your abdomen toward your back.
  • Repeat this back and forth motion a few times and try to detect whether the muscle is tense or painful.
  • Inspect the side of your body this way, all the way up to the bottom of your shoulder blade.
  • Stop at each painful spot and work it for some time.

As an alternative, you can do the massage strokes vertically, i.e. with up and down movements.

This is somewhat more difficult because you can easily slip off the muscle; but it is also slightly more effective.

Try both versions and decide which one feels better.

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2.2 Anterior shoulder pain: Self-massage the scapula region

Muscles: Infraspinatus, supraspinatus and latissimus dorsi

Almost everybody with shoulder pain is tense and sensitive to pressure in this area.

Fortunately massaging this area usually provides relief quite fast.

  • Of course, you need to know where exactly to place your massage tool before you can work this area.
  • To do to, place your hand over your opposite shoulder.
  • Walk your fingers down until you feel a bony ridge.
  • This is your spine of scapula. It runs “horizontally” on the back of your shoulder blade. Massage the area under this ridge.
  • Here again, I recommend using a massage ball.
  • Place the ball on your shoulder blade and press up against a wall.
  • Here, you are on the infraspinatus muscle.
  • Roll it over the muscle and search for tender spots.
  • Once you have inspected and massaged this area, roll your ball to the outer edge of your shoulder blade – below the armpit – and massage that area.
  • The massage can be very painful and uncomfortable in this area.
  • It is important not to overdo it.
  • The pressure-motion technique works extremely well here.
  • Lift and rotate your arm in various positions.
  • Through regular, daily self-massage this pain usually clears up significantly within the first week.

The massage continues in the area just above the spine of scapula.

Here, you will be massaging the supraspinatus using the pressure-motion technique.

This muscle can be so painful due to tension or trigger points that you can no longer lift your arm to brush your teeth or comb your hair.

A good tool for this area is the Trigger Fairy.

Use the Fairy to apply pressure on the area above the scapular spine.

Keep applying pressure. Now raise and lower your arm a couple of times.

Only go as far as your shoulder pain permits.

If that is only a few centimetres, then only go a few centimetres.

That doesn’t matter! Just be sure to work in a range of pain that is tolerable for you!

1

Experiment with the position of the Fairy.

2

One or two centimetres to the left or right often makes a significant difference.

3

An alternative is to massage this area with your fingers.

4

Make sure that you don’t overwork them--especially if your fingers are not strong.

2.3 Anterior shoulder pain: Self-massage of the lateral shoulder.

Muscle: Deltoid

Here again, I recommend using a massage ball.

  • Place the ball on the side of your shoulder and inspect the entire area downward to about half of your upper arm.
  • Stop at painful spots and massage them with light up-and-down movements.
  • Make sure that the movements are coming from your legs and not from your shoulders.
  • Like the supraspinatus, when tense, the deltoid muscle can make lifting your arm excruciatingly painful.

2.4 Anterior shoulder pain: Self-massage of the upper chest

Muscles: Pectoralis minor and subclavius

Let’s start with the subclavian muscle. Here the Trigger Fairy is again the tool of choice.

Of course, you can also do the massage with your hands if you want to.

  • Place the Fairy just below your collarbone and press into the muscle tissue located there.
  • Stop at every sensitive spot and massage it with a couple of short horizontal strokes.

Self-massage of the subclavius ​​using the Trigger Fairy and fingers

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Self-massage using the Trigger Fairy.

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Self Massage using the fingers.

Self-massage of the pectoralis minor

  • Let’s continue with the chest area and the muscles located there.
  • Place your finger under the coracoid process – bony bump that you can feel on the front of your shoulder.
  • Massage the 5-8 cm of the muscle, right under the coracoid process.
  • Focus mainly on the painful areas.
  • The techniques I recommend are precise massage strokes, rolling movements or the pressure-motion technique.

The best tool for this is a hard massage ball.

Otherwise, you can use the Trigger Fairy or your fingers.

Self-massage of pectoralis minor using a ball and the Trigger Fairy

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Precise massage strokes

Lean against a wall, then bend and straighten your knees, making small up and down movements.

2

Pressure-motion technique

Press up against a wall with the ball in between, then lift your elbow repeatedly.

3

Precise massage strokes

Press the Fairy into the muscle and massage the tense and painful areas.

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Pressure-motion technique

Press into the muscle, then lift your elbow backwards and upwards a few times.

2.5 Anterior shoulder pain: Self massage of the remaining chest area

Muscles: Pectoralis major and Sternalis

Massage the rest of the chest area using a hard ball.

Most of the time, painful spots can be found in the area of the sternum and in the middle of the chest.

2.6 Anterior shoulder pain: Self-massage of the upper arm

Muscles: Biceps brachii and coracobrachialis

  • Press your thumb as far up as possible on the inside of your upper arm.
  • Squeeze your arm against your chest and feel how the coracobrachialis tenses.
  • Massage painful spots, if present, a few times.
  • Use the thumb technique for this.
  • If you cannot find the muscle, then don’t bother.
  • In my experience, it rarely causes problems anyway.
  • Important! There are many nerve plexuses in this region. Be sure to stay on the muscle, keep your “massage pressure” moderate and stop as soon as you feel a tingling or burning sensation in your upper arm.

Switch to the front of your upper arm and massage your biceps using the Pressure-motion technique.

  • Place your hand in the shape of a shovel and encircle your arm with a pincer grasp
  • Bend and stretch your elbow and use your fingers to search for painful areas.
  • Once you find one, concentrate on it and do a few bending/stretching movements.
  • Work the entire region of your front upper arm this way.
  • Make sure to take it slow in the beginning.

3. Important: Pain in the front of the shoulder – your self-assessment

In which areas did the self-massage contribute most to alleviating your shoulder pain?

Always pay attention to how your body responds to the massage of certain muscles.

Focus mainly on the areas that provide the best results.

I hope this description of how to treat your pain has helped you.