Self myofascial release of the biceps and brachialis

The front of the arm has two muscles, the biceps brachii and the brachialis. Both muscles cross the elbow and are involved in flexing the elbow bringing the hand to the shoulder.  Whereas the brachialis only crosses the elbow, the biceps also crosses the front of the shoulder and proximal radio-ulnar joint (this joint is involved in turning the forearm. Because of this the biceps is involved in flexing the shoulder forward as well as turning the palm upwards (supinating) the forearm.  

The brachialis if found underneath the biceps covering the lower two thirds of the upper arm.  You can make some contact on the muscle if you come to the outside of the arm close to the lateral head of the triceps 

Pain in the biceps can refer to the shoulder or to the elbow. Pain in the brachialis refers to the same areas as the biceps as well as near the thumb

How to release the biceps and brachialis

1️⃣ Ideally grab a ball attached to a stick (for leverage)

2️⃣ To release the lower two thirds place the ball over the biceps to work the biceps or just between the biceps and triceps to work the brachialis. Starting with your elbow bent.   To release the upper third (biceps only) start with the shoulder extended

3️⃣ Pin the other part of the stick to your leg or something firm

4️⃣ Straighten your arm, like a triceps kick back

5️⃣ Draw the ball in the opposite direction of the arm movement to maintain tension

Self Myofascial Release of the Pecs

The pec major muscle is the large muscle that makes up the musculature of  chest. It has multiple sites of attachment; the collar bone, the sternum and the cartilage of the ribs. Interestingly enough the pect major also blends into the external oblique and sometimes the rectus abdominus. From these sites of attachments the muscle fibers cross the shoulder joint and attach onto the humerus (upper arm).

Due to the pec major having multiple sites of attachment there are several directions of movement that the pec major is involved in. It can have an effect on several joints but mostly the shoulder joint.  Pec major helps to depress the shoulder girdle, aids in flexing the shoulder, adducting the shoulder and internally rotating the shoulder. The muscle is involved in pressing exercises, push ups, cable cross overs, pull downs, and stabilizing the shoulder girdle during gymnastic ring work. 

When this muscle is a problem we often see a rounded forward posture and as a result the muscles between the shoulders blades become over worked.

When pec major is a problem you may experience chest/breast pain, shoulder pain and even pain down the medial arm.  When pain occurs on the left side it may be confused with angina pain.

So how can you help yourself?

Method of releasing the pec major

Upper portion

To stretch the upper portion of the pec major you will be extending the shoulder backwards. Place a ball over the upper portion, near the collar bone, and then extend your arm backwards behind you. Feel the stretch and hold for your desired amount of time

Middle portion

Place the ball over a tender spot in the middle portion of the pec major. With your arm out in front of you at around shoulder height move your arm out to the side.

Another way you can hit the middle portion of pec major is by placing your hand on the wall in a one handed wall push up position. Then, as you you press the ball into your chest, turn your body away from the wall.

Bottom/lateral portion

The lateral portion of pec major is the outer edge of the pec major. After placing the ball over this region reach up over head and seek out the stretch you need.

Dr Notley

Winnipeg chiropractor and athletic therapist

Self Myofascial Release of the Shoulder: Deltoid

The deltoid muscle, capping the shoulder joint, is made up of three parts.  There is an anterior (front) part, lateral (middle) part and posterior (back) part.  It is used in all forms of movement of the shoulder

Action of the deltoid

The anterior deltoid flexes the shoulder forward while the posterior deltoid extends the shoulder.  The middle portion abducts the arm out to the side; assisted by the other two portions.

At least one part of the deltoid muscle is involved when performing shoulder press, pushups, bench press, chin ups and rowing activities.

Causes of pain in the deltoid

The deltoid can be a source of pain as a result of trauma or from over exertion. When experiencing pain into the shoulder the deltoid muscle is not the only possible cause of pain.  Possible causes include rotator cuff tears,biceps tendonitis, subdeltoid bursitis, shoulder impingement syndrome, and C5 radiculopathy.

How to release the deltoid

If all other possible causes of pain in the shoulder have been ruled out by a professional you may gain a benefit by just finding the tender point and holding pressure on it but I like to add a stretch to it. 

Anterior portion

The anterior deltoid is found on the front side of the shoulder.  Its main action is to aid in flexing the shoulder forwards. It originates on the collar bone and attaches onto the outer portion of the upper arm along with the other parts of the deltoid.  Underneath the anterior deltoid is the long head of the biceps tendon. When treating this muscle you might end up aggravating the tendon.

Standing facing a wall. Place the ball on the anterior deltoid.  Have your arm out to the side. Rotate your shoulder inwards so your palm faces outwards and then bend the elbow. Pin the muscle down and then rotate your body away from the shoulder. This helps take the stretch off the biceps muscle. 

Middle portion

The middle portion originates on the shoulder blade. It is active when lifting the arm out to the side (abduction). To stretch it you will want to adduct the arm. Place the ball on the wall and press the middle deltoid into the ball.  Take your arm and reach behind your back. Use your other hand to pull the hand further across the body and down towards your back pocket.

Posterior Portion

The posterior portion also originates on the shoulder blade. It is active in extending the arm backwards. To stretch you’ll have to flex the shoulder forwards. In this case you’ll be horizontally flexing or horizontally adducting the shoulder across the body

Facing away from the wall,  with your arm at shoulder height, place the ball between the wall and the muscle.  Rotate your body away from the wall. Use your other hand to help pull the elbow away from the wall.

Dr Notley

Winnipeg chiropractor and athletic therapist

Make sure to take a look at these related articles

Self Myofascial Release of the Shoulder: Teres Major

Self Myofascial Release of the Teres Major Muscle

The teres major muscle is an important muscle that affects the shoulder and shoulder blade.  It originates near the inferior angle of the scapula (the bottom tip of the shoulder blade). It travels up through the armpit and attaches onto the humerus.  In the arm pit it runs right along side the latissimus dorsi muscle.

Activities that use this muscle

The teres major helps to adduct the arm, rotate the arm inwards and extend it backwards. It is most active when a resistance is added during these movements.  It is exercised during chin ups, pulldowns, and rowing activities. Other activities that use the teres major muscle are:

  • Wood chopping
  • Throwing a baseball
  • During the backward swing of walking/running
  • Holding the shoulder in extension (ie. reverse plank)
  • Adducting the arm behind the back
  • Pulling the steering wheel down
  • Typing with and old fashioned type writer

When this muscle is over used, beyond what it is capable of recovering from, it can become sore and refer to the back of the shoulder and down the upper arm.

How do you locate the muscle?

To locate the belly of the muscle put your hand on the back of your hand and place your opposite fingers onto the back side of the armpit. Push you hand into the back of your hand and resist.  You should feel the teres major and latissimus dorsi muscle tighten. Don’t worry which muscle it is you can treat both with the same movement.  

To locate the  attachment on the shoulder blade reach across with your opposite hand and feel the bony edge of the shoulder blade running almost vertically.  The upper two thirds of this edge is the teres minor. The lower to ⅓ is the teres major. Feel for a tender spot on the tip.  The body of the muscle is located on the back edge of the arm pit.

How to release the muscle

Place a ball onto the muscle.  To hit the belly of the muscle I prefer that you have it on the outer edge of the armpit, find a tender point and pin the muscle down.  Reach up towards the ceiling and feel added tension onto the muscle. If you externally rotate the shoulder (biceps facing backwards you will add a little more stretch to the area. 

To hit tender points near the bottom tip of the shoulder blade you’ll have to turn your body away from the wall. Perform the same movement as before.

*** Disclaimer *** This video and post is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. If you are in pain, please visit your local health care provider or contact Dr Notley if you are in #Winnipeg

Dr Notley – Winnipeg’s only dual credentialed chiropractor and athletic therapist

Self Myofascial Release of the Rotator Cuff – Infraspinatus

About the infraspinatus

The infraspinatus muscle is one of 4 muscles that make of the  rotator cuff muscles.

The infraspinatus muscle helps with external rotation of the shoulder (turning the front of the arm out to the side), horizontal abduction (moving the arm away from the body when the arm is out in front of you), and stabilizing the shoulder joint.

The muscle can be aggravated by catching yourself falling down the stairs by grabbing onto the bannister. Hard services in tennis, pitching a baseball, or during the follow through in a golf swing can also aggravate this muscle. Those that work with their arms out in front of them like musicians (violinist) and office workers are prone to irritating this muscle.

If this muscle is a problem you may experience discomfort with putting your hand behind your back and discomfort when brushing your hair or teeth.

Depending on where you touch on the muscle it may refer to the deltoid, the front of the shoulder  (along the lines of the biceps) and between the shoulder blade.

Locating the infraspinatus

To locate the muscle find the spine of the scapula; that bony ridge on the shoulder blade.  Place your fingers just below the spine. Most of the musculature below the spine of the scapula is the infraspinatus. (please refer to the video)

How to release the infraspinatus

Take a ball and pin the tender spot down. This can be accomplished by laying down on the ball or placing the ball between you and the wall. Reach across your body. Hold for 10 to 60 seconds.

*** Disclaimer *** This video is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. If you are in pain, please visit your local health care provider. If you are in Winnipeg go to the contact section to book an appointment with Dr Notley.