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How to Relieve Shoulder Tension

How to Relieve Shoulder Tension

Do you ever feel like your shoulders are just too stiff and tense? Maybe they lack mobility or have a poor range of motion. Or maybe you have pain with certain movements. Either way, this post will show you how to relieve shoulder tension using various release and stretching techniques.

Keep in mind, there are roughly 17 muscles that affect the shoulder joint, some could argue there’s more. But as far as direct influence on the shoulder joint, 17 muscles all perform some type of action for the joint. If at any time a majority of these muscles become inactive, overactive, weak, damaged, etc, it will only be a matter of time before this joint starts to become dysfunctional. If you are someone that performs repetitive shoulder movements every day for a good portion of the day, you are more prone to becoming someone with shoulder joint issues.

The first step in relieving shoulder tension is something I’ve been saying to do almost in every post, use a foam roller or lacrosse ball to release muscles. Now why is it necessary to release the tension? I’ll tell you. I’m going to get a little ‘sciency’ though. If muscle becomes dysfunctional, your body treats that as an injury and the repair process, cumulative injury cycle, will be initiated. Inflammation ensues and activates your body’s pain receptors and protective mechanism. After inflammation comes an increase in muscle tension increases and muscle spasms begin to take place.

How to relieve shoulder tension

The muscle spasms result in the formation of adhesions in the soft tissue. Adhesions are also known as knots or trigger points. These adhesions decrease the elasticity of the soft tissue and will eventually create altered movement patterns, altered length-tension relationships and altered force-couple relationships. What that means essentially is muscle imbalance and compensation, and muscle imbalance and compensation, leads to potential injury if not addressed.

With all that being said, the use of the foam roll and lacrosse ball helps release and break up the adhesions that formed during the cumulative injury cycle process which will in turn allow the muscle to stretch and lengthen properly. This reason is why I always tell my clients the foam roll BEFORE they stretch. The releasing and stretching will help alleviate the effects the trigger points and knots caused.

How to release the Muscles of the Shoulder

The videos below can be found in other posts but I think it’s important to include them all in one post. It is important to foam roll all the muscles that influence the shoulder in order to truly relieve the tension surrounding the joint. Remember to hold pressure on any painful trigger points until the pain subsides.

Foam rolling The Pecs

Releasing the Upper Back Muscles- Traps, Rhomboids, Deltoids, Infraspinatus, and Teres Minor

Releasing the Subscapularis

Releasing the Lats, Teres Major, and Serratus Anterior

Releasing the Upper Traps


Stretches After Releasing

Remember to hold each stretch for at least 45-60 seconds.

Upper Trap and Deltoid Stretch

Lats, Pecs, Teres Major, Serratus Anterior and Tricep Stretch

Rotator Cuff Stretch- Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, and Teres Minor

Pec, Deltoid and Bicep Stretch

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