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Just Massaging Your Shoulders Won't Make Them Better: Understanding the Deeper Connections

If you would have told me 10 years ago that massaging, trigger point balling or rubbing my shoulder wasn't going to get rid of my pain I probably would have been relieved. I would rub, massage, move and release my shoulders often but still experienced a lot of pain in them! We are all connected via a complex network known as fascia, which is very responsive to emotional sensations. So just massaging your shoulders won't solve the long standing issue you have...let me explain:

The Role of Fascia in Shoulder Pain

Fascia is a continuous layer of connective tissue that covers and connects every muscle, bone, organ, and nerve in the body. This tissue is not just a passive structure; it's a dynamic system that responds to physical and emotional stimuli. Being the largest sensory organ, fascia contains a multitude of nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. When fascia becomes tight or restricted, it doesn't just affect the local area but can lead to discomfort and reduced mobility in other areas of your body. This means, tight hips? Your shoulders are going to let you know about it!

Because fascia is interconnected throughout the body, tension in your shoulders may be linked to imbalances or restrictions in other parts, such as your hips, spine, or even the soles of your feet. Traditional spot massages, while soothing, often fail to address these interconnected issues, providing only temporary relief.

Emotional Health and Physical Pain

Emotions have a profound impact on our physical health, particularly in areas like the shoulders. Commonly, feelings of grief, sadness, or the metaphorical sensation of "carrying the weight of the world" can manifest as physical tension in our shoulders. Emotional stress triggers the release of certain hormones that cause fascia to tighten and muscles to contract, leading to stiffness and pain.

Moreover, those who emotionally "carry" others too much—always providing support without adequate self-care—often develop chronic shoulder issues. This emotional burden can be as debilitating as any physical strain.

Questions to ask yourself...who am I carrying the weight of right now? Am I taking on too much responsibility? If Left Shoulder: is there grief I haven't fully felt here? If Right Shoulder: what responsibility can I let go of?

Rib Cage Position and Breathing

The position of the rib cage and how we breathe also play significant roles in shoulder health. Poor posture, such as slumping or constant leaning, can misalign the rib cage, which in turn affects the shoulders. Furthermore, restricted breathing patterns, often caused by stress or poor posture, can lead to a tension in the shoulders and increase our risk of injury and pain.

Breathing deeply and correctly helps to realign the rib cage and shoulders, promoting better posture and reducing tension.

A Holistic Approach to Shoulder Pain

To effectively relieve shoulder pain, a holistic approach is necessary—one that includes:

  • Myofascial Release: This technique goes beyond traditional massage by targeting the fascia that connects the entire body. It helps release deep-seated tensions and restore mobility.

  • Emotional Anatomy: knowing what questions to ask around emotions that may be stored in your shoulder and then applying techniques such as counseling, meditation, or expressive writing can help manage and release the emotional burdens that contribute to physical pain.

  • Postural Adjustments: Being mindful of posture and making adjustments in daily activities can prevent the development of new tensions. Knowing how to hold yourself can help move some of the tension in your body.

  • Breathing Exercises: Incorporating deep breathing exercises into your daily routine can improve both rib cage mobility and shoulder alignment.

Understanding that just massaging your shoulders is not a long-term solution to shoulder pain is the first step toward genuine relief. By recognizing the connections between fascia, emotional health, rib cage position, and breathing, you can begin to address the root causes of your discomfort.

Want to continue to learn more about other areas of the body?

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