Dynamic Physiotherapy is open for Physiotherapy, Massage and Acupuncture. See our updated health and safety precautions here.

Shoulder Pain And Myofascial Release

If you have never experienced stiff or frozen shoulders, consider yourself lucky. It is a condition that affects nearly everyone at one point or another, especially those over the age of 40, and is characterized by pain and stiffness that progressively gets worse over time.

But it’s not all doom and gloom; studies have shown that the pain and stiffness eventually goes away on its own, usually after three years. That said, few people are interested in waiting it out for that long, especially if there is something they can do to start feeling better sooner.

Fortunately, there are things that you can do to improve mobility and reduce pain when suffering from stiff or frozen shoulders. The best part? They don’t require surgery or medication.


Before we discuss how to alleviate pain and improve mobility, let’s take a look at the etiology of stiff/frozen shoulders. After all, it makes sense to know what we are up against before creating a plan of attack. The shoulder encompasses the humerus, the scapula, the clavicle, and soft tissue, which collectively makes up the ball-and-socket joint. In order for the shoulder to function the way it’s supposed to, it relies on the body’s production of synovial fluid. This keeps the shoulder lubricated, allowing unencumbered movement. Without enough fluid, the arm becomes stiff or frozen and gets worse over time.


As the name implies, frozen shoulders are delineated by unusual stiffness. However, pain and a decreased range of motion are not uncommon. In fact, pain is often felt in the upper arm and shoulder muscles, making it hard to perform basic tasks involving the shoulders. Also, many people with this condition have complained about not being able to sleep properly.


It’s important to note that there are no definitive answers when it comes to the cause of frozen shoulders. The one thing that is certain, however, is that women are affected more than men, especially women who are over the age of 40. That said, men and women diagnosed with diabetes are equally susceptible. In fact, 10% to 20% of those diagnosed will eventually develop frozen shoulders.


As previously stated, the pain and immobility associated with frozen shoulders can be mitigated, if not stopped entirely, without medication or surgery. Many people who are currently struggling with this condition have turned to myofascial release in hopes of relieving their pain and regaining full use of their shoulders. That said, many people are performing self-myofascial release (SMR) techniques in the comfort of their own homes, and many of these same people can attest to its effectiveness. But what is myofascial release, exactly?

What is Myofascial Release?

SMR techniques involve applying pressure to tight muscles and fascia to help alleviate pain. These techniques can resolve shoulder mobility and impaired movements when done correctly. However, the technique must be done correctly to avoid exacerbating an already bad condition. The benefits of SMR can be felt almost immediately; after one session, you will notice that your pain has diminished slightly and that you’re able to move your arms/shoulders a little more freely.

Of course, the opposite is true if the technique is performed incorrectly; you will notice that your pain has intensified, and your arm/shoulder muscles may feel even tighter. If this is the case, or if SMR has not provided any relief, you’re encouraged to see a physician.

The more common SMR techniques involve using a foam roller, and some of these techniques include

  • Latissimus rolls
  • Neck rolls
  • Deltoid rolls

All of these movements are designed to relieve knots, stiffness, and pain. Now, that we have identified some of the specific techniques, let’s take a look at how to perform them.


As the name implies, this is an exercise that targets the latissimus dorsi muscles. They are the largest muscle group within the human body, and they are responsible for facilitating many of its movements, including shoulder movements. To complete this exercise, you will need a padded foam roller. While lying on the floor, place the roller underneath the back of your armpit. From there, rotate your body so that it is perpendicular to the floor and then slowly return to a starting position where your chest is facing upward. Perform as many repetitions as possible for a period of two minutes.


Although this exercise primarily targets the neck, it also indirectly improves shoulder mobility by stretching the neck muscles and the cervical spine. To begin this exercise, lie down on your back with a padded roller underneath your neck. With your chin tilted to the left, move your head up and down. Now, repeat the same movements with your chin tilted to the right this time. Although these movements might feel awkward, you can be assured that they are highly effective.


Lastly, let’s take a look at how deltoid rolls can help alleviate frozen shoulders. If you’re not familiar with this muscle group, deltoids are the rounded, triangular muscles that sit at the uppermost part of your arm and on the top of your shoulder, consisting of anterior, middle, and posterior fibres. These fibres all work collectively to facilitate rotating and moving the arm away from the body.

To begin this specific exercise, place a foam roller between the wall and your left shoulder. Next, turn your body, aligning your hips with the wall. Then, move your body in an up and down motion. The pressure of your body weight, along with the up and down motion, will trigger the pressure points in your deltoids, which, in turn, will improve mobility and ease any pain that you may be feeling. Lastly, repeat the same process for you right shoulder.

It is important to note that the information provided in this article is not intended to substitute any advice provided to you by a licensed doctor. It is, however, an attempt to provide you with some rudimentary information with respect to frozen shoulders and exercises that you can do at home to improve mobility and reduce shoulder pain.

If you have any questions or concerns relative to frozen shoulders, contact Dynamic Physiotherapy, online or send us an email today.

Subscribe to RSS Feeds