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Subscapularis – The Deep Trickster

Posted Jul 24 2012 5:58pm

Pitching a ball, writing your name, playing tennis, skiing, using a shovel, typing on the keyboard, anything that brings the arm in front of the body engages with the subscapularis.  This deep rotator cuff muscle is often overlooked as a source of shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand pain.  But getting to know this tricky muscle can be a great help dealing with and eliminating your pain!


You can see the subscapularis – it originates on the anterior surface of the scapula in the subscapular fossa, and inserts on the humerus bone.  It’s action is to medially rotate, or internal rotation, of the shoulder joint.  It also helps with adduction, or bringing the arm against the body.  But as it is also a rotator cuff, it helps to stabilize the shoulder joint.

When the subscapularis is tight, reaching over your head can be difficult or impossible.  Rotating the arm outward can also be reduced and affected.  A person who spends much of their day typing into a computer, or other repetitive job where the arms are held in front of the body for long periods of time, are likely to have some dysfunction, like trigger points or scarring or tearing, of the subscapularis.

Pain can be sharp and felt in the shoulder, at the top of the shoulder, or deeper inside.  There can also be numbness or tingling in the shoulder, down the arm, and into the hand and wrist, as the restrictions of the subscapularis can cause impingement of the brachial nerve.

Fortunately, massage therapy can make a great difference by eliminating tightness, and restoring greater range of motion and freedom from pain.

The subscapularis is best accessed with the client in sidelying position with the client’s arm in a relaxed posture.  By placing one hand onto the ribs just inferior to the scapular, and then gently moving the shoudler and arm inferiorly over that hand, you can easily and comfortable access the subscapularis and effect muscle release.  Results can be seen usually fairly quickly, with some improvement in shoulder function right away, usually between 1 and 5 treatments.

Book your session now , and lets get your shoulders feeling great!

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