Universal shoulder/infraspinatus/subscapularis stretch

Universal Shoulder/Infraspinatus/Subscapularis Stretch

If you could do one stretch to help with shoulder pain, what would it be? One stretch that would help to loosen up tight shoulders. Whether they are tight in the front, sides, back of the shoulder, or armpit (axilla), what would it be?

First, we want to look at how our shoulder is designed.

The arm bone is held into the shoulder socket by the wing bone/ scapula/ shoulder blade. The shoulder blade makes up part of the shoulder socket. The arm bone (humerus) attaches to the shoulder socket. Whenever the arm and hand move, the shoulder blade stabilizes them.

Whenever the hand, arm, and shoulder move, four rotator cuff muscles contract and relax to make those fine motor motions. When you are typing on the computer, your rotator cuff muscles are helping to fine-tune the movements in your hands so that the muscles in your hands can move your fingers accurately.

When we hunch over, whether it is a steering wheel, phone, or keyboard, we are contracting a major rotator cuff muscle and irritating it. It is the subscapularis.

The subscapularis is a big rotator cuff muscle that sits between the shoulder blade and the spine. The muscle raises your shoulders to your ears. It pulls the shoulder blade up and back. When you are reaching for something, it gets stretched out.

It’s like sitting in front of a computer, hunching over and leaning forward to get as close to the computer screen as possible to help you focus. This motion will irritate your entire shoulder, into your upper and lower back, and into your neck.

When the subscapularis goes into spasm, it hikes the shoulder blade up to the ears, making it hard to relax. It might feel like your shoulders are permanently shrugged. Some people will say that they feel like there is a button underneath their shoulder blades. Others will say they feel pulling in the front of their shoulder or behind their shoulder blade and into their neck. The subscapularis will be involved no matter what type of shoulder pain they feel.

The best way to avoid shoulder pain in general and to prevent it from coming back is to watch your posture. Be mindful about how you sit and move. When you sit, try to have something behind the small of your back to maintain the curvature of your lower back.

I like rolling a towel into a cylinder, wrapping rubber bands around it to keep it in place, and putting that in the small of my back. You then lean your upper back against the seat, which will keep your back in a good position and in good posture. Bonus if you can have something to rest your head back onto.

When you lean back against the seat, with the lumbar roll behind the small of your back, it pulls your shoulder blades down your back, relaxing the subscapularis. It also maintains the lumbar curve, which helps to keep your lower back, hips, and legs in good posture.

You can also try to squeeze your shoulder blades together. That will bring them down your back and get them in a good position. The best stretch for this area is a yoga stretch.

If your right shoulder is painful, place your right hand behind your back, palm out. Try to reach the bottom of the left shoulder blade. Even if you can’t touch the bottom of the left shoulder blade, that is fine. Get your right hand as high up the left side of your back as possible without bouncing or pushing. Make sure to tuck your right elbow into your side.

Now, lean back against a wall. Touch your heels against the wall. Touch your head against the wall. Look straight ahead.

You might feel that stretch going into your neck, upper back, back of the shoulder, front of the shoulder, and even down into the arm.

This stretch will stretch all of those areas out. If I could recommend one universal shoulder stretch that would affect most shoulder issues, I’d recommend this one. I do it daily to manage my shoulder pain.

I’d recommend the same for you.

I hope that you have a pain-free day.

Is Your Levator Scapula To Blame?

Levator Scapula Pain Relief

Do you have shoulder pain?

Were you told that it might be coming from your levator scapula?

Do you know what your levator scapula is?

It can commonly cause neck, upper back, and shoulder pain.
The levator scapula is the muscle you are trying to reach and rub when you put your hand behind your
back, from the top, and the top of your shoulder blade. It is the area between the top of the
shoulder blade and the spine.

The levator scapula is a muscle that attaches the top medial portion of the shoulder blade to the neck.
It raises your shoulder blades. This muscle helps you to shrug.
If you keep your shoulders raised high and up by your ears, you can cause your levator scapula to
spasm. Once your levator scapula goes into spasm, it will be painful to lower your shoulders and
do many other motions with your shoulders.
The primary irritant for our shoulders these days are computer work, driving, and looking down at your

These actions cause us to hunch our shoulders.
When we hunch our shoulders while looking down, our shoulder blades come up to our ears. This will
cause our shoulders, upper back, and neck to all tighten up.
Throw some stress on top, causing us to clench our teeth or clench in other areas, and this motion can
easily cause a flare of the levator scapula and the surrounding areas.

The subscapularis is one of the main muscles that move our shoulders up to our ears.
You’ll recognize the muscle if you’ve read any of my other blogs.
It is the big rotator cuff muscle between your shoulder blade and your spine.
This muscle causes you to shrug your shoulders.

When you are sitting in front of a computer for hours, getting stressed out, these muscles will tighten up.
When driving for long distances, even over 30 minutes, hunching over the steering wheel and
having a death grip on the steering wheel can cause these muscles to spasm.
When you are sitting at home, scrolling on your phone, and looking down at it, then your shoulder
blades will be coming up your back and tightening up.
All of these motions can cause your levator scapula to go into spasm.
How do you calm down the levator scapula?

This involves stretching the hips into the upper back, shoulders, and even the neck.
On my website, https://cohentriggerpoint.com/courses/, you’ll find stretches and exercises for all
these areas. I recommend starting at level 1. Under the blog section of my website, you can find videos
explaining and demonstrating how to trigger point and foam roll your achy and painful muscles at home
and calm down these inflamed and irritated muscles.

Please keep in mind that a tight muscle will be a weak muscle. Even if the muscle feels weak, you want
Start by stretching it and loosening it up before you try to strengthen it.
You must work out the entire neck, upper back, and shoulder complex.
Trigger-point therapy is one of the best ways to get this worked out.
Trigger point therapy can treat all of the affected shoulder, upper back and neck, and even jaw
muscles that can contribute to the pain complex.
An excellent soft tissue chiropractor will be able to work out the trigger points to get the muscles to move the
the way they were designed to move.

Then, a good physical therapist will help reinforce healthy movement patterns and get the shoulder to
move how it was designed. Allowing for positive movement hygiene.
Deep tissue laser therapy is also a great addition to help speed up the healing process.
We can treat and relieve your muscle and joint pain at Cohen Chiropractic Trigger Point Center.
If you are suffering from levator scapula pain, come in and see us.
We will get the pain out.

Have a Pain Free Day.

Levator Scapula Pain Relief

Do You Have Shoulder Pain?

Do you have shoulder pain?

Were you told that your infraspinatus was causing the pain?

Did you even know that you had an infraspinatus?

If you are like most people who are not trained in health care, then chances are, you have no idea of what an infraspinatus is, or what it does, and even more importantly,
Why is it causing this much pain? Your infraspinatus is one of four rotator cuff muscles that we all have. The rotator cuff muscles are four small muscles that hold your arm bone (humerus) in your shoulder joint (the A-C joint). In our modern society, where everyone uses their phones and in front of computers all day, we use our shoulder and rotator cuff muscles way too much and in bad ways. Every minute we are hunching over our phone, keyboard or steering wheel, our shoulders are tightening up.

What is tightening up in our shoulders?

The shoulder and rotator cuff muscles. Muscles can get so tight that they can tear on a microscopic level and go into spasm.
This is what a sprain or, train or muscle pull is. But once you tear a muscle, no matter how small of a tear, you will not just stretch it out.
When muscles go into spasm, they are like steel cables. You aren’t going to stretch them out once and be done with it.
The muscle pull will get wired into your system and become a neurological problem.

How do you treat rotator cuff injuries?

Trigger point therapy is one of the best ways to break muscles out of the neurological patterns of spasms and inflammation that they can fall into.
Good trigger point therapy (Nimmo Receptor Tonus) will help to break up the neurological patterning that perpetuates the pain muscle spasm. It will activate the muscles and get them to loosen up and move normally. This will prime you to do physical therapy and strengthen the injured muscles, further stabilizing the area.
If you try to strengthen injured muscles without releasing and healing them, you will be driving that pain and dysfunction deeper into your system, making it harder to work out.
The saying that I like is that you don’t want to add strength on top of instability. Another tool that I utilize to speed up healing and reduce inflammation is cold laser therapy.
Cold laser therapy is a red light that is produced by a laser. The laser is hot but not hot enough to burn through anything it touches, like a surgical laser.
A cold laser will penetrate the muscle an inch deep and produce healing. It helps to speed up the healing process by strengthening the cell walls of the muscle cells.
It also reduces inflammation.

Red light works well on muscle and joint and arthritis pain. It is one of the few ways to get into stenotic vertebral joints and reduce deep nerve root inflammation.
Trigger point therapy, combined with cold laser therapy, is one of the best ways, and fastest ways to reduce joint pain and muscle pain and speed up healing.
If you have a rotator cuff issue, infraspinatus tendonitis, or injury, come see me for pain relief.

Have a Pain Free Day!

How To Exercise At Home, Pain Free

For the first time, many of us are finding ourselves at home. We’re home for a prolonged period of time, with nothing to do – and many of us are doing just that – nothing.

And that’s where the problems begin. If we don’t figure out a way to be active, then you’ll come out of this period of self-isolation shaped like a potato; weaker and deconditioned. Your body will break down, and you’ll be more prone to injury.

You can, however, come out of this period in better shape. Come out of this period conditioned and ready to meet that stresses that will be present as we are all coming out of our hibernation. All it takes is a few dumbbells.

Creating your at-home gym. 

It can be hard to exercise at home if you never have before. I consider myself lucky. I’ve been exercising at home for years. I am a big proponent of exercising at home. It is just so much easier than going to the gym. Outside of buying equipment, it can be very inexpensive exercising at home.

You can make your home gym as elaborate, or as simple, as you’d like. Whether you’ve spent years accumulating equipment or pick up some used equipment on Craigslist or eBay, what matters is making the commitment to changing your lifestyle.

If you can find an exercise that you can perform at home, with minimal equipment, it can be very easy to get into, and stick with, an exercise routine.

Sticking to a new routine.

When was the last time you did a push-up? High school PE class?

Or maybe you tried running as a part of a New Year’s resolution for a few months but lost your motivation. 

Many of us have decided to start a home workout plan and have failed.  So, why not try a new approach?

Think of what you want to be able to do – whether it’s getting in better shape or keeping up with your kids as you get older. Find your inspiration and then set yourself long-term and short-term goals. 

Focus on one week at a time. Get in your workout for the day. Then complete the next workout. Make it a challenge to find that 15-45 minutes in your day, as often as possible, to just keep yourself moving. 

After that first week, look back and take it a step further. Add a new exercise to your routine, and slowly crank up the intensity.

Start your journey with ‘Pain Free Lifestyle.’

I speak with all of my patients about exercise: how to get into exercise, how to pick the right routine for themselves or analyze their current routine to make sure that it is conducive to their specific needs. 

That’s why, a few years ago, I created an online exercise and nutrition program for my patients to use. It is meant to be done completely at home, with minimal equipment. All that you need are a few dumbbells. 

Through the years, I’ve learned a few easy on your body exercises. They are easy to learn and great for beginners. As the program progresses, the exercises get progressively harder and more complex. But they are still easy on your body and generally won’t create injury.

In this routine I have isolated the majorly overused areas of the body that we want to focus on, to keep ourselves moving and our pain minimized. 

The program is designed to guide you through a series of exercises that will get you up and moving. For a limited time, since everyone is locked up at home, the Pain Free Lifestyle program is free. It is usually 9.99$ per month.

I’d recommend that anyone who tries the Pain-Free Lifestyle program starts with a light, almost too easy routine. Ease your body into it.  With a little patience, consistency, and sweat, you’ll forget what life was like before you started working toward your fitness goals. 

Have a Pain Free Day.

The Importance of Balance

It is very common for our balance to get worse as we age. Many of us think that it is a normal part of the aging process, and just something that we have to deal with.

I am here to tell you that you don’t have to settle for your balance getting worse as you get older.

When I work with athletes, it is imperative to keep their hip muscles loose so that they are functional. As an athletes’ hips get tighter, their athletic performance will decline.

The low back and hip muscles allow us to stand up and sit down, cut back and forth, twist, pivot, and switch directions. The tighter that they get, the harder it is to cut, move, and do the things that athletes have to do.

What this means to a normal person is that the tighter their hips get, the more likely they will be to trip and fall, and the worse the effects from the fall will be.

Your Ability to Balance: All About the Age

Studies that show that the older we get, the more susceptible we are to falling, and the more the falling affects us. My 95 year old uncle Mort used to joke that the older he got, the harder the ground got. The tighter your low back and hips are, the harder it is to raise your foot to clear a curb or obstacle while you are walking and talking to a friend.

I find that tight low back and hip muscles make us more likely to fall, and make the effects of that fall, worse. This tightness is something that doesn’t occur overnight, it slowly and insidiously builds up over time.

That’s why most of us think that our tight and sore low back and hips are just part of life, and just part of getting older.

A tight low back, hips and legs are not a normal part of getting older.

Muscle tightness builds up every day. Everyday we are doing the same motions over and over again. These repetitive motions are what slowly, and insidiously, tighten up our muscles every day. The muscles get tighter and tighter over time until they pull on our joints and bones to give us bad posture, followed by joint pain.  When someone bends over to tie their shoe and they throw their back out, it is due to tight muscles. It wasn’t bending over to tie the shoe caused the issue, that was the straw that broke the camels back. It was all of the muscle tightness building up over years, causing the muscles to get irritated and inflamed, and likely to be pulled, injured, sprained or strained.

Tight hip and low back muscles are becoming an epidemic in our society. With everybody sitting for hours at desks in front of computers, most people will have some hip and low back tightness. Sitting for long periods tightens up the muscles in the legs, hips and low back, (also in the neck shoulders and arms but that is a different topic). Sitting causes the muscles in the legs, hips and low back to get so tight that they become non functional. This is because every minute that you are sitting, the muscles in your legs, hips, core and back, are all contracting to keep you sitting upright and prevent you from flopping over like a boneless chicken.

Treating Your Chronic Sitting

A common diagnosis for this, I kid you not, is “Dormant Butt Syndrome”. This means that the muscles in the hip (or butt) area, get so tight from sitting too long that they become non functional, they won’t contract or move. The muscles get so tight that they can’t move. This causes a huge muscle imbalance in the hips and low back, and creates a whole host of back pain and injury.

The best way to treat this issue, how to prevent this issue form coming on in the first place, and prevent it from coming back, is to exercise, stretch and trigger point yourself. You want to keep the muscles in your back, hips and legs loose and strong. You want to stretch on a regular basis, and exercise on a regular basis.

Just walking won’t do it. Walking is a great exercise, but it has to be coupled with some other strength training and stretching. Otherwise walking will strengthen you up in an imbalanced way.

It’s like when I work on a construction worker who tells me that he doesn’t need to exercise because his work keeps him in shape.

Your work will strengthen you up in an imbalanced way because you are doing the same motions over and over again, and usually they aren’t balanced out to both sides of the body.

Usually you’ll have to use one side more, repeatedly. Over time this creates a muscle imbalance by overusing some muscles while other muscles get underused. This imbalance will eventually create injury and pain.

That is why it is so important to do some strength training and some stretching. You want to keep the muscles strong and loose.

But it has to be a balanced routine. That is why I put together Pain Free Lifestyle. It is a balanced, easy on your body exercise, nutrition and stretching system that anyone can follow, from home, spending about 20-30 minutes per day.

You don’t have to go through Pain Free Lifestyle. There are many exercise and stretching systems out there. You can do yoga, which is stretching and strengthening. Pilates, Ti Chi, Chi Gong, are also examples of systems that stretch and strengthen, are easy on your body, and are low impact.

I am a huge fan of weight lifting, but only when done moderately. As we age, heavy, high intensity weight lifting beats us up more and more and we recover slower and slower from it. That’s why I would recommend that whatever exercise system you choose, you can do it repeatedly, and without pain.

You want to feel better after a workout, not beaten up and in pain.

You want an exercise system that you can stick with, without causing pain and injury.

Exercise smarter, not harder.

Eat intelligently, not less.

Have a Pain Free Day.

The Real Cause of Your Injuries

I  have been in practice for almost 15 years. I am a chiropractor who specializes in neuromusculoskeletal pain and injuries. I am a trigger point specialist.

The people who have seen every type of medical doctor out there and still don’t have any idea of what’s wrong with them, they are in pain, can’t find out what is wrong with them, and have no idea how to reduce their pain, come to see me for an answer and a treatment.

Continue reading “The Real Cause of Your Injuries”

Learning to Listen to Your Body

Rest is one of the most often overlooked components of staying in shape. It is hard to know when to work through pain, and when to listen to your body and back off and rest. Rest usually isn’t even considered a component to staying in shape. But rest is essential if you want to continue to exercise.

How much time should you take off? Do you take the time off completely? Will you lose conditioning if you take too much time off? These are all valid questions that can be hard to answer, even if you know about exercise.

Continue reading “Learning to Listen to Your Body”

Stretching and Your Muscles

There is so much information on static stretching out there that it can be hard to know if it is good for you or not.

I am a big fan of static stretching.

The more I work with the human body and focus on getting muscles out of pain, and keeping them out of pain, the more important stretching becomes.


Continue reading “Stretching and Your Muscles”

Your New At Home Workout

If you’re like most of us, you hate going to the gym. You want to get fit, but joining a gym is too expensive, too inconvenient, or maybe you’re just the independent type.

No gym? No problem. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need fancy, expensive exercise equipment to get your body back into shape. All you need is to know how to work out properly and which exercises are proper for your body. If you know what you are doing, then you can perform more than enough exercises at home to get you into shape and to keep you there.

Continue reading “Your New At Home Workout”

A Healthy Relationship with Exercise

It seems that I spend most of my time in my practice trying to either convince patients to exercise or to convince them to back off from exercise.

Most people don’t exercise enough. Many people come into my office with a health issue that’s been coming on for years, they haven’t done anything to manage it or help it out, and they want me to fix it in one treatment.

On the other end of the spectrum, I get people in my office who exercise too much. Their bodies are in a state of chronic overuse which makes them much more injury prone. When a muscle is overused, it is tight, irritated, and inflamed. A muscle in this state is primed for injury. When a muscle is in this state, it doesn’t take much to injure it.

Continue reading “A Healthy Relationship with Exercise”