All posts in Shoulder


When we get a headache, or worse a Migraine, our life can sometimes stop.  We would do anything to help ease the pain, nausea, and other symptoms that go along with it. Well, I’m not saying that these ideas will help; I’m simply telling you what helped me. As always please refer to my “rules for stretching”. With this blog, I wanted to get out a little of the information I have. I will be updating this blog over time, as it seems that I learn more about headaches at every seminar I attend.


Headaches may feel like they are in your head, but most are actually on it, between your skull and skin. I confirm that my headache is here by giving my fascia (the connective tissue that holds your skin to your skull) either less or more room.  To give less room, I simply squeeze my head between my hands. I will sometimes give extra pressure with my fingertips, or move my hands in little circles. I make sure to press all over my cranium, including my face and the top of my neck. To give my fascia more room, I grab fistfuls of hair really close to my scalp. Sometimes just grabbing the hair is enough to cause my headache to react. Other times I need to pull and or twist. My headaches don’t always ease when I do these tests, sometimes they seem to spike. So I always go slow and easy. Occasionally, just doing this gets my headache to go away. And if my head no longer aches, I think that’s a good thing! J


If during those tests my headache reacts, but doesn’t ease, I move on to the trigger points (trPs). Most trPs for headaches, according to Travel and Simon, are in the neck and/or face. I test where the trP is by first stretching my neck; please refer to my neck stretches blog for ideas. If my headache reacts when my head is forward, I look for the trP directly below my skull near my spine. (sometimes the little bugger is lower along spine like the middle or bottom of the neck.) If my headache reacts when I twist my head, I work the trP on the sides of my neck near the tops of my shoulders. (Yours might not be in exactly the same location as mine, don’t be afraid to “look” around.) And if my headache reacts when my head is tipped back, I work the ropey muscles that frame my throat. (You might need to work behind them, or under your chin?) When I work my trP I try to stay relaxed and breathe. Sometimes I can barely touch the spot, sometimes I need to use more pressure. I know when I hit the right spot when my headache reacts or I feel pain where I am pressing. I also know that everything is connected, so sometimes even if the trP that is causing my headache is near my throat, working the other areas feels good and helps my headache as well.


If I didn’t find a trP that worked in my neck, I move to my face. I get a lot of headaches due to clenching my teeth. So pinching and pulling on my cheeks always hurts. Even now, as I write this blog, I pressed on my cheeks and felt a headache under the surface. In fact often pressing, pinching, and pulling on my cheeks eases the few sinus headaches I get. If my headache is caused by a trP in my face, it is in my cheeks; but maybe your trP isn’t. Perhaps you would need to work your chin, forehead, or eye sockets? Do not press directly on your eyeballs! I have found that trPs are tricky things. They can be difficult to find, to know how much pressure is needed, and whether I should be less aggressive (just press) or more aggressive (twist, rub, or wiggle). I just remember that as long as I can relax and breathe easily, I’m ok. It took a while, but I learned what “good pain” feels like and now I look forward to my massage therapist finding those spots and working them out.


I have found any of my headaches caused or triggered by stress have a muscular component that I can massage away, thus easing the headache. There are headaches I have tried to help in my clients that Swedish massage doesn’t seem to help at all. Those clients still like the Swedish massage, and it gives them a tiny bit of relief while they are on my table; but the relaxation just doesn’t seem to be enough. Lucky for me, and some of those clients, I have multiple modalities that I use. I will sometimes use CranioSacral Therapy, Fascia Release, Scar Tissue therapy, and/or a few others. Unfortunately these other modalities aren’t easily explained in a blog. There are also a few clients I have had in the past that didn’t get any long term relief from any of my techniques. Those clients I referred to a different massage therapist, counseling, and/or a doctor.


I truly like to use my Rule of 3: If any one technique doesn’t show positive results towards your goal within 3 sessions, then it isn’t the right technique. I have found a slight exception to that rule now. Scar Tissue Therapy effects are sometimes very subtle. I have found that most people have positive effects after as little as one session. However, because the work is very gentle, it’s just not as obvious.

Shoulder stretches

Headaches, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Rotator Cuff Issues, Shoulder Blade Pain, and many more upper back/upper arm issues can be helped with these stretches.

As with any of my stretches, please note my 3 basic rules.

1. Don’t stretch to the point of PAIN. If you are wincing, holding your breath, cringing, or any other pain signs, you could be doing damage. BACK OFF!

2. Stretching can occasionally make you dizzy, so be sure you are somewhere where you won’t get hurt.

3. It doesn’t matter how long you hold each stretch, the best thing is to stretch often. So if you can do 1 or 2 of theses stretches at your desk at work, watching T.V. at home, or even when at a stand still in a traffic jam, DO IT. Throughout the day our bodies tighten up, so throughout the day we need to stretch them.

I like to start a grouping of stretches at one of an area then work to the opposite end. So these stretches start at the skull and work their way to the elbow.

Our necks move in all directions, and so we need to stretch them in all directions.Sitting down on a kitchen (or other hard) chair, use your working hand to pull your ear to your shoulder. You can hold the bottom of the chair with your stretching hand, so you don’t arch or lean your torso with the stretch.



Then do the “smell your armpit” stretch. Rotate your head so your nose is pulled towards the front of your shoulder. Try to put your nose as far into your armpit as you comfortably can.




Just rest your interlaced fingers on the back of your head, while you breathe and let gravity pull your chin to your chest. Don’t try to pull your head downwards, as that could lead to the spinal column in your neck getting injured, causing pinched nerves, dizziness, and other unpleasant things.



Pressing your fingertips around your collarbone will help release the muscles that curve your shoulders inward, giving us all that slumpy look. Make sure you press all around your collarbone though. Try to get your fingers underneath it as well.



Use your working hand to grab the skin over your Trapezious muscle (the place at the very top of your back) and squeeze. To intensify the stretch you can roll the skin over your fingertips.






Holding onto the doorknob of a closed door or other handle, keep your back straight and STEP forward. Don’t lean, arch, twist, or otherwise bend your spine. To intensify this stretch do a mini lunge. It works best if you think of pushing your tummy out as you step.



Stand in a doorway or next to an outside corner wall, and place your stretching forearm and hand against it. Then with your back straight, take one step forward


Elbow below your shoulder will stretch the higher parts of your shoulder.






Elbow even with your shoulder will stretch the middle.






Elbow above your shoulder will stretch the lower parts.






Using a chair or counter top, with your elbow straight, bend down onto one knee. You can support your torso by leaning onto your bent knee. Make sure your spine isn’t twisted or bent.




With your stretching hand behind your back, use your working hand to pull your elbow behind your head.





Press your finger into the center of your deltoid muscle, where the curve of the bone softens slightly. This point will probably be very tender, so be sure to not press TOO hard (i.e.  DON’T WINCE!)




Then press into the underside of your shoulder blade, at the edge of your armpit where the muscle gets firm. Be sure not to press into your armpit itself, as there are many lymph nodes that you could damage. Sometimes it helps to reach the right spot by pushing your stretching arm forward so that your shoulder blade pokes out a little. This space too, make sure you don’t wince.



Pinch the fleshy muscles in front of your shoulder, using your whole hand. To intensify this stretch it can help if you pull, push, twist, or otherwise get a little rough with yourself.  Resting your stretching arm on a table in front of you will aid the muscle tissue being worked to relax faster.




Use your working hand to “pinch” the skin all around your upper stretching arm.


Forearm stretch

If you have a problem with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, tendonitis, Arthritis, or any other pain concern for your forearm, wrist, hand, or fingers, try these stretches.

First, warm up the muscles a little by bending your elbow, wrist, and fingers. Then remembering the basic rules for stretching start at your finger tips and work your way to your elbow.

Basic rules for stretching:

1.)Don’t stretch to the point of pain, only stretch till you feel the comfortable warming,

2.)Make sure you can breathe normally throughout the entire stretch,

3.)Make sure that when you are stretching you either are sitting, or have a safe way to sit on hand, just in case the stretch causes you to feel a little dizzy,

4.)Stretch for the amount of time you feel comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be 5 minutes per stretch, just till the warm feeling stays with your muscle for a while afterwards.

Press each finger (thumb too) in turn forward and back. When stretching forward, curl your finger tightly and with your first joint (the one closest to your hand) straight, press your thumb of the opposite hand into your nail. Then keeping your finger curled, bend your first joint and press the opposite thumb into your second joint. When bending them back, start at farthest joint from your hand, and use the opposite hand to press your thumb against the tip of the finger and your pointer finger against the back of the joints. ** especially important to NOT over stretch your fingers.


Then giving extra stretches to your thumbs, place the thumb of the opposite hand pad to pad with your stretching thumb, and the pointer and middle fingers against the side of your stretching pointer finger.this should stretch the webbing.

Palm to palm and overlapping your opposite fingers at 90 degrees over your stretching hand (so your opposite finger tips just touch your stretching middle finger) and your opposite thumb below the second joint of your stretching thumb (closer to the hand). press your thumb so you feel the stretch in your palm and edge of your thumb.

Then making a fist (exact placement of thumb doesn’t matter as much) bend your fist forward. First looking at the hairier side of your wrist,





then turning the hairier side away from you.





Then repeat the same motion and pressure with your stretching hand flat, so that when looking at both sides of your stretching forearm, your fingers point up then down.






With your stretching hand flat, like you’re about to shake someone’s hand and looking at your palm, wrap your opposite hand around it, palm to palm, and fingertips just touching the first joint of your middle finger. Keep both thumbs relaxed and not working. Then, squeezing your stretching hand between you opposite fingers and palm, hold your stretching forearm about 8 to 10 inches away from your shoulder and press down with your opposite hand.


follow that with rotating your opposite hand so your still palm to palm, but this time your fingers cover your pinky finger. Keeping your stretching wrist about 8 – 10 inches away from your shoulder, pull your stretching hand toward your chin/chest.




Finally twist your forearm muscles themselves. To do this you will want to pinch your stretching forearm between all 4 fingers of the opposite hand. Kind of like a one handed snakebite. If you can twist your stretching forearm skin great. Most people this is a very sensitive area, especially if they type or use a computer mouse a lot. So, if all you can do is pinch, fine, but try to pull the skin and muscle away from the bone. You can do this by either pulling straight away, folding the muscle over your fingers, or twisting (clockwise and counter-clockwise) while pulling or folding. remember to pinch pull and stretch the skin of your entire forearm, from elbow to wrist.

Doing this routine every morning and night, or at least whenever you happen to think of doing it, may help with any pain or tingling on the hand, wrist, or elbow.