Sports Medicine

Self-Myofascial Release for Shoulders

April 22, 2014

By Jeff Alexander

Have you ever wished you could take your arms off when you sleep? If you train hard, you know what it’s like to have stiff and painful shoulders, and maybe even a full-blown injury. Shoulder joints are tricky. They get hurt easily and heal slowly.

Self-myofascial release (SMR) can help clear up mobility issues in your shoulders that lead to impaired movement and eventual injury. Be aware that SMR can border on being painful. On a pain scale of one to 10, SMR should feel like a six to eight (a “hurts so good” feeling). The best part of SMR is that it provides near-instant feedback. If you’ve done it right, you’ll immediately feel a little better. If you’ve done it wrong, you’ll know it, too. Your muscles will be tighter instead of being more fluid. If you do feel worse after a bout of SMR, get a medical diagnosis to avoid further injury.

Practice the techniques shown here to relieve knots and restrictions so you can more easily raise your arms overhead instead of fighting limitations in your muscles in addition to the bar you’re lifting. After performing these moves you should notice a greater ease when raising your arms, and your elbows should get closer to your ears when you’re in an overhead position.

Always do a “systems check” after performing an SMR technique. Take your arm or neck through some long, slow, full-range stretches. If you have greater ease with movement, you’ll know you are on the right track. If you were too aggressive with the amount of pressure, then you will likely feel even tighter. If that’s the case, back off to lighter pressure with more of a stroking movement.

Addressing your muscular discomforts with five to 10 minutes a day of SMR is like brushing and flossing your teeth. If done regularly, it prevents little issues from becoming big problems.


Delts Roll


>>Begin by pinning a foam roller or ball between your shoulder and the wall. (Rumble Rollers are firm but flexible, and the bumps are very effective.)

>>Slowly turn your hips so you’re facing the wall, then slowly turn away from it, but keep the SMR tool pinned between your shoulder and the wall at all times. When you find a spot of increased tension, hang out there until it dissipates or for one whole minute. Then slightly squat up and down to massage that spot.

>>After 30 seconds, repeat the forward and backward rotations to find another spot. Repeat the squatting massage for each area of tightness you find.

Delts Roll A

Delts Roll B

 

Delts Roll C

 


Lats Roll


>>Lie on the floor with a roller under the back of your armpit.

>>Slowly rotate your body so your chest turns toward the floor, then slowly rotate back so your chest faces upward.

>>Repeat for 30 seconds up to two minutes.

Lats Roll A

 

Lats Roll B


Neck Roll


>>Lie down on your back with a roller under your neck.

>>Slowly tilt your chin toward one side and gently nod up and down.

>>Lay one or both forearms on your forehead for a deeper massage.

>>After a few minutes on one side, do the same for the other.

Neck Roll A

 

Neck Roll B