I did a massage a couple of days ago that made me very happy.
The client was someone I have worked on several times before. Since the last time I worked with her, she had shoulder surgery to remove bony growths from the acromion, and was having a rough time in the months following surgery. At present, she’s experiencing extremely limited shoulder mobility. External rotation and flexion of the shoulder joint are rather limited, and what movement she seems to have comes from her scapula becoming hyper mobile rather than the normal motion at the rotator cuff.
After spending some time sizing up the situation, I finally got her on the table, prone. She’s a fairly trim woman, so her scapula were readily visible. And in a relaxed prone position, arms at her side, the scapula on the left side (the side of the surgery) was about two inches higher than the other side, and the inferior point of the scap was winged up and off the ribs in a dramatic fashion.
After a pause to soak it in, I got to work. I am a big burly guy, and the client is trim, athletic woman, perhaps a bit smaller than average. And in some areas, she was calling for just about all the pressure and intensity I could deliver. It’s humbling when I’m leaning the majority of my body weight through my elbow into her erectors and rhomboids and she’s calling for more. I even rolled her supine and did work on her subscap, working with my fingers buried deep in her axilla, something that no one seems to enjoy.
After a lot of work, I’m convinced that her subscap is playing a considerable role in restricting her shoulder movement; it’s in just the right location to resist extension and external rotation.
After over an hour, I got her left scap lying flat, and within 1/4″ – 1/2″ of the elevation of its companion. Which felt like just a huge accomplishment. I’m not naive enough to think that one session will magically make everything better, but if it gives relief long enough to interrupt the “pain-spasm-pain-spasm” cycle, it might open the door for things to start improving. I’m only sad that I live so far away from this client and can’t work on her more often. It would be fascinating to see how this would evolve with a few more timely sessions.
Great practice! It’s good to know I still have some chops.