Frozen Shoulder – The Muscles That Move the Arm

Between just yesterday and today I’ve seen three clients who have varying degrees of limited range-of-motion in their shoulder. The common term for this is Frozen Shoulder or Rotator Cuff Injury.

There are so many muscles that have an impact on the shoulder that it would take much too long to name and explain each of them. If you can’t move your arm properly, if your range-of-motion is limited, or if you have pain in your shoulder and upper arm when you try to do simple movements, then you would fit into that broad description of Frozen Shoulder.

I’ve spoken before of the major muscles of the shoulder, specifically your trapezius, levator scapulae, pectoralis minor, and deltoid. Today I want to talk a bit about two little muscles that are frequently overlooked when searching for an answer to shoulder pain; the teres minor and teres major.

The teres minor and teres major muscles work with the infraspinatus muscle to bring your arm back. They are very involved with sports such as tennis (setting up for your swing), golf (the upward lift of your golf club prior to the downward swing), and volleyball (bringing your arms back so you have power to punch the ball). Too many times these two little muscles are ignored when treating the shoulder.

I came to realize the importance of these two muscles when I was suffering from a severe case of frozen shoulder. I couldn’t bring my straight arm more than 2″ out from the side of my body; I couldn’t move my arm forward more than 3″ while resting straight at my side; and I couldn’t even bring my thumb behind my side-seam. My arm was truly frozen in place, and the pain was excruciating. I tried to find someone to treat my shoulder muscles, but I was only finding nice-relaxing massage therapists, and the PT I went to at the time made it much worse, so I stopped both. I was desperate, my arms and hands are my living so it was vital that this was resolved, and FAST!

As you look at the two muscles it will help to realize that they originate on the border of your scapula (shoulder blade) and insert into your shoulder and upper arm. Insertions always move toward the origination, so this muscle pulls your arm down from a raised position. However, if the muscles are tight, you aren’t going to be able to raise your arm. These two muscles ended up being a major part of the pain and debility I experienced when I had frozen shoulder. And they turned out to be a key to resolving the pain my clients were experiencing.

Like all spasms, the answer is direct pressure on the spasm until it feels released, and then gently stretching the muscle. This may take you two or three sessions, but you’ll get it accomplished.

If you have my book, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living you can treat them the same way you are treating the infraspinatus, only come a bit forward so you are off your shoulder blade and onto your ribcage, just below your armpit. If you don’t have the book, you can find just the treatment for the shoulder muscles by getting The Julstro Guide to Treating the Upper Body

If you treat these muscles you’ll have more flexibility in your shoulder joint, even if you don’t actually have frozen shoulder.

Wishing you well,


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