Massage for Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator Cuff Injuries include sprains, impingement, irritation, or tears to the muscles or tendons which connect the upper arm to the shoulder.

Sometimes referred to as Rotator Cuff Syndrome, these muscles and tendons also help to hold the ball of the upper arm bone (humerus) in it's socket, which helps to give the arm the best range of motion of any joint in the body.

With our "computer-crazed" society, who not only work online 8 or more hours per day, but also spend additional hours on social media and checking email, dysfunction and disorders of the neck and shoulder muscles are on the increase.

Massage therapists are studying the rotator cuff muscles to better their skills and learn release techniques for these muscles, in order to help clients who suffer from the pain that dysfunction can cause.
The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis) whose job is to  stabilize the humerus (arm bone) during all shoulder movements, which helps the muscles to move where and when needed.

A rotator cuff that functions properly is able to stabilize the shoulder so we can do everyday, normal work. An injured rotator cuff disrupts normal function, and therefore disrupts our lives.


There are many reasons that these muscles can become inflamed, torn or injured.

  • Bursitis-Inflammation or irritation of the bursa sac, which is the fluid-filled sac between the shoulder and tendons
  • Tendinitis-Inflammation of the tendons
  • Tear-Most often due to overuse, tendons or muscles can develop tears

Other things that can cause injuries are poor posture, repetitive motions, falling, lifting or pulling and normal wear with age.


  • Shoulder pain, especially when lifting
  • Limited range of motion in shoulder
  • Week muscles in shoulder

Trying to brush your hair or your teeth and trying to lift something heavy will cause much shoulder pain.

Pain reduction can occur with:

  • Massage Therapy
  • Ice packs will help reduce inflammation
  • Rest

Massage techniques for the shoulder girdle will help to increase blood circulation to the area, which also increases oxygen and nutrient flow, which will encourage healing. Get a massage as often as possible to facilitate healing.

Some shoulder injuries require surgery (read about the different types of surgery), rehabilitation, physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractic help and/or exercises to re-strengthen the muscles.

This is a clip of one of the massage videos that teach therapists how to work the rotator cuff muscles to release restrictions:

This DVD, Medical Massage for the Shoulder Girdle By Ralph Stephens is one of the massage videos that teaches massage techniques to release restrictions of rotator cuff injuries and relieve pain. It is great for home use or for training in a massage school or clinical setting..

Rotator cuff injuries are painful, and can disrupt our lives, unless we learn massage techniques or visit a therapist that is familiar with working these muscles to release their restrictions and encourage healing

Go back to Massage Education Guide Homepage

Go Back to Pain Syndromes from Rotator Cuff Injuries

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