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Rotator Cuff Massage

As a physical therapist working from a bodybuilding gym, I see a lot of rotator cuff injuries.  The injury can be very painful and debilitating for those who have it.  It starts out with a bit of pain, a niggle, a little bit of stiffness soon follows, and from there the symptoms can worsen quickly and can enforce a cessation in training for many people.

It would seem that bodybuilders in particular suffer from this very difficult injury, most likely due to the range of exercises they use to build their bodies.  When we stop and think of the exercises a bodybuilder does then we can see how much the shoulders are involved.  One of the most common issues I see with this injury comes when a bodybuilder has been hammering the bench press, and in particular flat bench.  The shoulder can be put in compromising positions when doing flat bench, and this is made worse by the sheer load that some people can actually lift in this exercise.

Once you get rotator cuff then it's difficult to get rid of, but it's not the end of the road.  I've worked on dozens of people with this issue and with a great deal of success.  During the treatment I ensure that I spend a lot of time working the infraspinatus, particularly in the area towards the superior angle of the scapula. When massaging this area you can feel where the issues are, and if you can't...then the client will let you know as it can be excruciatingly painful - make sure you use plenty of massage oil or wax to avoid friction sore spots.  Clients often tell me the pain is coming through the front of the shoulder.  You most definitely don't need a lot of pressure in this area.  The other areas of concentration is the trees major, again which can be very painful.

Once you're done at the back of the shoulder then I like to spend time working the supraspinatus (can be done from front or back), followed by some work across the painful area at the front of the deltoid and the point of insertion for the supraspinatus.  Again, this can be very painful so it's really important to communicate with the client and see what they can and can't tolerate.

When working on the shoulder I don't like to rush this treatment because it does take time.  It can certainly be done and improved in one treatment, but it takes more than a 60 second rub in each area.  

Following treatment I always advise clients to take it easy for a couple of weeks to ensure things settle down.  The day following the treatment can be very tender.  In addition, I always get my clients to ensure they do the supraspintus exercises with very light dumbbells before training.  This ensures the muscles are warm and ready for more serious training during their session. 

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