For those who experience shoulder pain, it can make daily tasks feel pretty impossible. Finding an effective way to relieve shoulder pain can be even more difficult.
If you’re struggling to find relief, try muscle scraping! Based on the technique of gua sha, scraping effectively reduces pain and restores function at many joints throughout the body, including the shoulder.
This article will guide you through the best techniques to use and the best areas to target. But don’t leave it solely to scraping! We have also laid out different exercises to supplement scraping so you have a well-rounded recovery plan.
Causes of shoulder pain
A major cause of complaints of shoulder pain is shoulder impingement. In summary, the tendon of one rotator cuff muscle runs between the humerus and the shoulder blade. If the space between the two is too small, this tendon will rub or become “impinged” between the two bones when lifting your arm1.
There are many muscles around the shoulder joint, including the deltoids, traps, pecs, and lats. Stiffness and imbalances in any of these could be linked to pain in the shoulder.
How scraping can help
Studies have shown that gua sha, or muscle scraping, can help improve range of motion and the rehabilitation of injuries. In general, breaking up restrictions within soft tissue will allow these areas to move more freely. In addition, the friction caused by rubbing the instrument against the skin creates heat and reduces the stiffness of muscles and other tissues, improving extensibility2.
How to scrape for shoulder pain
Scraping the Pectoral muscles: Use long strokes back and forth over the pecs. Add in the pec stretch to get more relief. Continue for about 30 seconds.
Scraping the Trapezius: Use long strokes from the base of the skull to the tip of the shoulder. Lean head to the opposite shoulder. Continue for about 30 seconds.
Scraping the Latissimus Dorsi: Use long strokes up and down over the lats. Hold elbow overhead to get deeper relief. Continue for about 30 seconds.
Exercises to supplement scraping
Rehabbing shoulder pain often takes more than just scraping. A combination of manual release and strengthening exercises is the best way to tackle an injury.
These exercises are among many that will help stabilize the shoulder joint and create enough space for your shoulder to move freely without impingement.
Scap Push-Ups. Let shoulder blades fall together then push them apart. Perform 3 sets of 8.
Low Row. Keeping forearms parallel to the floor, pull elbows back and squeeze shoulder blades together. Perform 3 sets of 10.
Field Goals. Keep wrists wider than elbows and elbows bent at 90 degrees. Perform 2 sets of 6.
The shoulder has some areas that may be hard to reach on your own, rolling can be a great way to release these muscles.
The best way to relieve shoulder pain is a combination of releasing tension and building strength in the muscles around the joint. Scraping the pecs, traps, and lats is effective in restoring the range of motion at the shoulder joint. Strengthening exercises work on stabilizing the joint and preventing pain due to impingement.
- Shoulder impingement syndrome: Causes, symptoms & treatments. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved August 2, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/7079-shoulder-impingement-syndrome
- Kim, J., Sung, D. J., & Lee, J. (2017). Therapeutic effectiveness of instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization for soft tissue injury: mechanisms and practical application. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 13(1), 12–22. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.1732824.412