Relief From Shoulder Pain

A Simple Self-Treatment For The Infraspinatus Muscle

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

This summer has been HOT! HOT! HOT!

HotHigh temperature records were broken not just in the USA, but all over the world!  The funny thing is it was sometimes hotter up north than down here in Florida.  A snowbird client came in several weeks ago and told me they came back to Florida because they don’t have central air in their house up north (never needed it before).  That’s pretty incredible.

Now, I won’t say it’s cool outside, but September is not quite as hot as the summer months.  Which brings me to my treatment of the month – shoulder pain.

With it so hot I believe that a lot of people are getting relief be being in a pool, or a lake, or the ocean.  People are enjoying swimming, and if you are swimming a lot, you could easily get shoulder pain. There is a muscle called the Infraspinatus that is a key muscle for swimmers, so let’s chat about it.

A Swimmer’s Nemesis And Power – The Infraspinatus Muscle

This is what the back of your left shoulder looks like if you took off your skin – fascinating!

There are 16 muscles that all insert into your shoulder, each pulling your arm in a different direction.  Each is important and you use them all every day. But we won’t go into all of them this month, we’re just looking at the large muscle inside the red circle.  (I’m not an artist so saying “circle” is just using creative license – LOL)

This is the Infraspinatus, which originates on the surface of your shoulder blade (the scapula). It inserts into the tip of your arm bone (the humerus), and when it contracts it pulls your arm back.

Think of taking a tennis serve, or doing a backstroke in the pool, and you can visualize the movement this muscle makes.

How A Muscle Works To Move A Joint

Did you ever play “tug of war” with a stick and rope when you were young?  Basically, that’s how muscles work together to move our joints.  When the side that is on the right is pulling on the rope, the stick moves to the right. The only way the stick moves in the opposite direction, in this analogy it moves toward the left, is the right side needs to stop pulling and the left side starts to pull. When that happens, the stick moves toward the left.

This is exactly what happens in our body when we want to move a joint. Two muscles insert into a bone that is at the joint.  One muscle (let’s say the infraspinatus) pulls on the insertion point at the tip of the shoulder on your arm bone (humerus), and your arm moves back.  A muscle in the front of your shoulder/chest (pectoralis major) needs to release for your arm to move in that direction.

Then, when you want to bring your arm forward, the pectoralis major contracts and pulls on your humerus, and the infraspinatus must release tension so your arm can move.  It’s pretty simple, and it’s exactly what happens with every joint in your body.

In my books, Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and The Pain-Free Athlete, I show you how to self-treat all the shoulder muscles. This month I’m going to share with you how to self-treat the infraspinatus muscle.

A Simple Self-Treatment For The Infraspinatus Muscle

As I mentioned, there are 16 muscles that move your shoulder in all the directions you do every day.  It is important to have each of the muscles free of spasms in order to have full range-of-motion. With that said, here is the self-treatment for the infraspinatus muscle.

You can use a slightly used tennis ball to treat the muscle, although it may be too soft to be effective. I’ve found a new tennis ball may be too hard. I strongly recommend that you never use a lacrosse ball as it is much too hard and could easily bruise the bone. A bone bruise can cause pain for up to a year, so it’s certainly something to avoid.

I prefer my Perfect Ball because it is solid in the center and has a layer of softness around the outside.  This softness enables you to work deeply into the muscle without potentially bruising the bone.

The pictures below show you where the muscle is located and where to place the ball.  You can either lean into the ball on a wall, or you can lie on the floor as shown below.

When you locate a “hot spot,” where it hurts as you press on the point, just stay there for 30 seconds.

Next, release the pressure for 5 seconds to allow blood to flow into the muscle, and then press into the muscle again.  Continue this until it no longer hurts, and then look for another point. Repeat this on each painful point to enable a full release of tension and relieve pain and stiffness.

Even without working on the other muscles of the shoulder, you’ll get considerable relief by treating the infraspinatus muscle.

Have You Listened To My TEDx Talk?

The title is “The Pain Question No One Is Asking.”  It points a finger at a HUGE missing piece in our health care, one that affects millions of people.  The topic is controversial, so much so that it almost wasn’t approved because it asks a question that certain people don’t want brought to light.

You can see it by going to YouTube and putting in “Julie Donnelly, Pain”.

Please “like” and “share” it with others so TED will see that this is a subject people want to know more about.  Thanks!

Looking Ahead To October

Next month we will be looking at the #2 most prevalent pain problem in the USA.  Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is debilitating, and incredibly painful.  I know because CTS shut down my therapy practice in 1997.  I’ll tell you the short version of that situation and how it was the catalyst for me developing the self-treatments that reversed it for me. I’m happy to say that the self-treatments I developed have also helped hundreds of people around the world eliminate this problem from their lives.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

How I Treated My Frozen Shoulder

Why We Get Shoulder Pain 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney 

Happy New Year

celebrationI love the holidays!  It’s wonderful to see family and friends, and there’s always such good food and fun, but I’m also happy when the New Year begins.  Of course, every day is a “new year”, but January 1st is like starting a whole new book of life, with unlimited possibilities.

This year, I’m not only writing goals, I am also doing something that was suggested by Pegine Echevarria.  I’m looking back on this past year and writing down as many of my successes as I can remember.  Goals are the roadmap for the future, but remembering past successes lifts our confidence that we’ll be able to achieve the goals we have set.

In fact, this year I’m going to look at each day and write down a success that I’ve had that day. How wonderful it will be on New Year’s Eve to look back and read 365 successes for 2020!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that you’re also eager about starting 2020.  Here’s to a year of adventure, joy, health, prosperity, and fulfillment of all your dreams!

Why We Get Shoulder Pain

For some reason I’ve had a LOT of clients come in with shoulder issues this month, more than normal, so it made me decide that this month’s topic should be about the shoulder.

The shoulder has more muscle attachments than any other joint in the body, which Is the reason we have such a wide assortment of movements we can make with our shoulder and arm.

There are 16 different muscles that impact your shoulder and cause movement and stability to the joint.  Each muscle is pulling in a different direction, and that’s a blessing, and a potential problem.

For example, when one muscle is trying to pull your arm forward, and the muscle that pulls your arm back is in spasm, you will have pain every time you try to move your arm to drive a car, type at your computer, or lift anything up.  And the pain can get severe if it’s not treated properly and quickly.

How I Treated My Frozen Shoulder

In 1993 I had the worst case of frozen shoulder I’ve ever seen in anyone before or since.

Every one of the 16 muscles had gone into a sudden spasm, pulling in 16 different directions.  It locked my elbow to my waistline and even the slightest movement in any direction caused excruciating shoulder joint pain.  Nobody could figure out what to do and I ended up tying my arm to my body to stop the stabbing hot knife pains I felt with even the slightest movement.  It was horrible! I knew what I would do to help you, but I couldn’t find anyone who could do those same treatments for me.  What to do?!

You know that voice that’s forever running in your head?  I was frantic and said out loud, ”What the heck am I going to do?” And a voice in my head said to me “treat yourself!”  Really, now how was I going to self-treat all these muscles when I had absolutely no movement in my left arm?  The voice said: “figure it out!”  So, I did!

It wasn’t easy, and it was definitely painful, but step-by-step I worked out how to treat each muscle using a ball, and my fingertips.  It took me five months to get back to 100% mobility, but I did it.  Next thing I knew every client who came to my office was suffering from shoulder pain. Nobody was as severe as I had been, but their situation was still very painful and limiting them in many ways.

I realized that I wouldn’t have gotten full range-of-motion back if I hadn’t been self-treating several times a day, so I started to teach my clients how to help themselves.  I didn’t have any pictures yet so I could only show them one or two techniques each time they came in, but it made a huge difference.  People started getting better, and I moved on to a new aspect of my therapy practice -– teaching people how to self-treat for permanent pain relief.pain free living book

Eventually I took pictures of each self-treatment, and I hand wrote a description of what the picture was demonstrating.  I didn’t have a computer yet, but that’s another long story about how it all became my first book (the title was so long, even I don’t remember it!).  I learned to have short titles for each book, and now every treatment I teach is in either Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living, The Pain-Free Athlete, or The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. 

If you have been to see me for therapy, you know that I teach you what to do at home.  That’s definitely something most massage therapists don’t do, but my feeling is I’m only successful if you are out of pain and you stay that way.

One Important Shoulder Self-Treatment You Can Use First

We’ll demonstrate on the left arm:


Put a ball in your right hand and then bring your hand under your left armpit or you can place the ball as shown in the picture.




Lean onto a wall, moving until you find the “hot spot.”

Stay there for about a minute, either staying still or moving very slightly.

Take the pressure off the ball to let blood get into the area and repeat several times.


Move about, bringing the ball up further into your shoulder blade, and down toward your armpit (treating the latissimus dorsi muscle).

There Is So Much More

As I mentioned, there are 16 muscles involved in moving our shoulder and arm, and this is only one technique to ease pain and stiffness.  In my opinion, this is the #1 treatment I always teach because it helps so much, but the others are important too.

You can get every self-treatment in Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living and The Pain-Free Athlete. 

I’m also opening a weekly Zoom gathering that comes with 24/7/365 access to all the tools you need to find and release aches and pains from your head to your feet.  You can get information about it by going to

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

A Novel Treatment For Shoulder Pain

My Mission Is To Help You Live Pain-Free 

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

Happy Valentine’s Day

Healthy HeartWhen I lived up north, February was the worst month of the winter – cold, gloomy, and while it’s only 28 days long, it seemed endless.  If you’re in the cold weather, I hope you stay nice and warm, and that you also find some fun outdoor activities to help this month end quickly.

Here in Florida, this is one of our best months!  No humidity, no rain, no bugs, and lots of sunshine.  We love February!

February is also thought of as a month to show love for another (it should be every month, but we’ll leave that alone for now).  Lovers go out to special dinners, sometimes buying expensive gifts or flowers. And many people send sweet cards to friends and family.

But the actual origination of Valentine’s Day isn’t such a loving story.  The day is named after St. Valentine, a Christian martyr who was executed in ancient Rome on February 14th in the 3rd century A.D. There was also a pagan ritual that had to do with fertility, and where women put their names into an urn for bachelors to pick from. Somehow the two merged over the years and brought St. Valentine’s Day into the more romantic sphere.

In any case, it’s now a multi billion dollar business that has nothing to do with anything religious but can be fun for loving couples to celebrate.

A Letter From A Reader

Subclavius MuscleThis past week I received an email from a reader of this newsletter.  I’ve asked people to send me a message if they have any aches or pains that they would like for me to discuss.  This is a topic I’ve never discussed before, and since it’s causing this woman distress, I decided it’s the perfect discussion for the month.

Suzie was feeling pain across the front of her shoulder, and she had painful points along the bottom of her clavicle (collarbone).  The subclavius muscle is a short muscle that originates on your 1st rib and inserts into the underside of your clavicle. You can look at it on Wikipedia ( if you’d like to see how tiny it is and where to find it when you are self-treating for pain.

As shown in the graphic above, it is interesting to think that such a small muscle can cause so much pain in the front of your shoulder, and down your biceps to your inner elbow.  Even more interesting is that most people aren’t aware of this muscle, so they search other places when they are feeling pain across the front of their shoulder.  As a result, they don’t get relief, and they may even turn to pain medications.

A Novel Treatment For Shoulder Pain

If your pain starts in the front of your shoulder and radiates down your bicep, the pain may be caused by your subclavius muscle. If, you are in luck. The treatment for this muscle is so simple you can do it any place and at any time.Treatment For Subclavius Muscle Pain

Simply press your fingertips as shown in this picture.  If that exact point isn’t painful, move your fingertips a bit to one side or the other.

It will probably feel like a sharp pain, and you may even feel the tiny bump that is caused by the spasm.

Hold the pressure for a minute or so….

Release the pressure (but don’t move your finger off the point)…

Press deeply again and hold.

Do this several times until it doesn’t hurt to press on the point.

I have been working with people suffering from chronic pain and/or sports injuries since 1989. One thing I have found is that while I can find and successfully treat the muscles causing pain when people come into my office, it’s vital for them to continue their treatment at home.

A phenomenon called “muscle memory” will cause the muscle to begin to shorten as soon as we finish our therapy session.  Left untreated the muscle will tighten again in as short as 2-3 days, and you’ll have pain again.  However, if you self-treat the muscle you will continue to bring it back to its proper length, and ultimately it will stay, and the pain will be eliminated

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Health Tips From The Professor