Massage and Rotator Cuff Syndrome

Rotator cuff syndrome or shoulder impingement syndrome, is not uncommon for people who do house painting, swim, do weightlifting, play tennis, and any other overhead activity or sport. Living in Boulder offers a lot of opportunity for great outdoor activity. At the same time, participating in sports can also bring on sports injuries, such as rotator cuff problems.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the rotator “cuff” is a group of 4 muscles* and tendons that are connecting the upper arm (humerus) to the shoulder blade (scapula). The muscles are allowing the shoulder to move and rotate inward (internal rotation) and outward (external rotation) and the tendons provide stability to the shoulder.

*The muscles in the rotator cuff include:

  • Teres minor
  • Infraspinatus
  • Supraspinatus
  • Subscapularis

Rotator cuff tendinitis refers to irritation of one of these tendons and inflammation of the bursa (a normally smooth layer) lining these tendons. A tear or inflammation occurs when one of the tendons is torn on a microscopical level (or worse) from overuse or injury.

When the tendon is stretched or inflamed the pain can be persistent and affects everyday activities. Any motion overhead or reaching back can cause pain.

Treatment varies depending on the severity of the injury. For rotator cuff syndrome, massage has shown to be beneficial following any muscle injury. Massage to the rotator cuff and surrounding muscles will help to improve the blood flow to the area which aids healing, as well as breaking down any scar tissue which builds up, and easing muscle tension.

Care and Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Syndrome

There are plenty of exercises to strengthen the muscles of the rotator cuff. Adding massage therapy will address the pain, the spasm, and range of motion limitations. Trigger point compression may be used to reduce muscle tightness and trigger points. Also, pain-free passive joint movements will help maintain range of motion.

After 48 hours, heat may help the injured site as well as more direct therapy techniques to reduce adhesions and micro scar tissue such as direct friction to the muscles and tendons. If a surgery was involved, the breaking down of scar tissue will start 4-6 weeks post-op.

Between massage treatments for about two to three times a week for three weeks apply some self-treatments such as hydrotherapy, stretches, and resistance exercise will keep you on the road to recovery.

If you have pain in your shoulder and you were diagnosed with an injury to a rotator cuff muscle, contact us and let us see if we can help you and offer some release from pain or Book your session today.

Love and Light,



Liraz Bergman-Turner is a Licensed Massage Therapist, Reiki Master & the owner of Heavenly Embrace, a massage and energy healing practice in Boulder, CO.

Heavenly Embrace Wellness 2310 Juniper Ave, Boulder, CO 80304 (720) 515-9034
The Art of Massage & Bodywork