When you finally realize it’s a rotator cuff injury and you have had enough then it’s time to find the best massage care possible. It’s really helpful to understand that the muscle deep under your shoulder blade called the subscapularis could be the problem. It’s a bit hard to reach but a more skilled massage therapist will know exactly how to reset this muscle. It is the strongest rotator cuff muscle and accounts for nearly 50% of the strength for this important joint. You quickly realize just how important it is when you can’t use it, and for that matter, when you can’t even sleep on it. 

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles; the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis muscles. These muscles start, or, “originate” at the shoulder blade and attach to the top of the arm bone. The function of the rotator cuff muscles is to lift the arms and rotate the shoulder in all directions. When this joint isn’t working you are not getting a whole lot accomplished in life. The ability of the shoulder joint to rotate in a circle is what makes it known as a “ball and socket” joint. Other ball and socket joints in the body are the elbow and hip bones. 

The people most commonly affected by rotator cuff injuries are athletes and those with jobs that require repetitive motions, like construction workers. Also, people with hypermobile joints and women in menopause and or low estrogen are at greater risk. The most typical rotator cuff injuries are:

  • Tears
  • Strains
  • Tendonitis 
  • Bursitis 

Look for these symptoms related to rotator cuff injuries:

  • Pain and weakness in the shoulder, especially at night, making it difficult to sleep on that side of the body
  • Pain and difficulty when lifting the arms or rotating the shoulders
  • Frozen shoulder: not really a symptom of a rotator cuff injury but it can be the result of one. Resting the shoulder joint is a very important treatment for a rotator cuff injury, but keeping the joint immobilized for too long can cause the muscles and tendons to “freeze” or lock up and get stuck, making it incredibly difficult and painful to move. 

Of course, it can be very important to seek medical attention from a doctor when dealing with acute injuries such as a rotator cuff injury. Even if someone needs surgery, massage therapy can be an important part of recovery and treatment. Your best bet is to look for a massage therapist to focus and hone in on the affected muscles and tendons of the shoulder. 

Massage therapy is a great option for rotator cuff injuries because it helps to decrease inflammation and pain in the area, release scar tissue, loosen tight and tense muscles and increase range of motion in the shoulder girdle. Our massage therapists at East Bridge Massage specialize in recognizing these injuries and pinpointing where your body needs the most attention. Call or email to book your massage with one of our expert therapists today!


Clare Katner has been a licensed  massage therapist and teacher for over 20 years. As the founder of East Bridge Massage she leads a team of 10 massage therapists in Portland Oregon, offering specialized treatments seven days a week. Whether it’s deep tissue or stress reduction her inspiration is to create a unique and customized experience to reach the many needs of all those that seek advanced massage therapy.