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How to Give a Shoulder Massage - Tips from Experts

October 24, 2017

This article will briefly introduce the movements of shoulder joints and how to give a shoulder massage according the movements.


To be able to spot the problem, we need to understand the movements of shoulder joints? What are the movements of shoulder joints? the movements include flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, medial rotation, lateral rotation and circumduction. A shoulder joint is a complex ball and socket joint with many planes of movement. The arm can be taken through flexion into elevation, i.e.  taken above the head. It may also be taken from abduction across the body into horizontal flexion. When including passive movements for relaxation purposes it is easier to maintain rhythm and continuity by limiting shoulder movements to abduction, flexion/elevation and extension. However, for mobilization all movements must be included.


In the next section, I will talk about how to give a shoulder massage according the movements.


Procedure for Abduction and Adduction:

  • Hold the arm behind the elbow, place the other hand over the scapula to stabilise it, using the thumb and fingers.

  • Keep the arm level with the body and move it away from the body into abduction.

  • Return it to the side of the body into adduction.

Procedure for Flexion of the Shoulder Joint:

  • Hold the client's arm just above the elbow, placing the other hand over the scapula to stabilise it.

  • Rotate the arm laterally and lift it upwards above the client's head.

  • Bring it down and behind into extension. You will need to have your client standing to perform these movements effectively.


Procedure for Horizontal Flexion and Extension:

  • Hold the client's arm just above the elbow and fix the scapula with the other hand.

  • Abduct the arm to 90 degree

  • Take it across the body (at chest level) into flexion.

  • Bring it back as far as possible into extension (in the abducted position).


Procedure for Medical and Lateral Rotation of the Shoulder Joint:


  • Grasp the client's arm just above the elbow with one hand and hold the wrist with the other hand.

  • The upper arm can rest on the couch.

  • Rotate it outwards into lateral rotation.

  • Rotate it inwards into medial rotation.


Also Read: How to Give Full Body Massage - Tips from Experts

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