How To Use the Foam Roller For Shoulder Pain and Tightness


This article discusses the use of the foam roller to address the tightnesses in myofascial structures that can contribute to shoulder pain. As is usually the case, in order to appropriately explain how to best self myofascial release to reduce these tightnesses in the myofascial (muscle and connective tissue) structures you will need to understand a little about the anatomy.


The shoulder complex is actually made up of a few joints. These are:

  1. Glenohumeral: between the humerus (arm bone) and glenoid of the scapula (shoulder blade)
  2. Acromioclavicular: between the acromion (part of the shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collar bone)
  3. Sternoclavicular: between the clavicle and the sternum (breastbone)
  4. Scapulothoracic: between the scapula (shoulder blade) and the thorax (rib cage)

Releasing The Anterior Shoulder Muscles

There are quite a few anterior (or front) shoulder muscles that are important to keep flexible (see video below). These include:

  1. Pec. Major
  2. Pec. Minor
  3. Anterior Deltoid

Releasing Rotator Cuff Muscles

The rotator cuff muscles are particularly important for stability of the shoulder. These include:

  1. Supraspinatus
  2. Infraspinatus
  3. Teres Minor
  4. Subscapularis

Rotator Cuff Anatomy

Tightness in the posterior cuff muscles (Infraspinatus and Teres Minor) can contribute to common shoulder pathologies including shoulder impingement. It is important that you ensure adequate flexibility in these muscles through regular self myofascial release (see video below).

Foam Roller Exercises for Shoulder Pain

This video shows a great range of exercises to address the various myofascial structures around the shoulder. See the contents below for relevant structures being released.

  • 00:00 Pec. Minor and Teres Minor
  • 00:26 Anterior Deltoid and Pec. Major
  • 00:39 Posterior Cuff
  • 01:15 Latissimus Dorsi

What Size Will Be The Most Useful?

If you are suffering from shoulder pain or tightnesses in your rotator cuff, pec. muscles, or other shoulder muscles; the most appropriate size for you:

  • Short EVA
  • Short Thera-Roll

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