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Self-Care – Supraspinatus

Self-Care includes
– Activities to avoid and change,
– Strategies for quick relief,
– Stretching for longer-lasting relief,
– Corrective Exercises, Yoga, and more…


Relief for the supraspinatus muscle offers the solution to the problems presented in more than one post:

Relief from shoulder and elbow pain can be simple with stretching or icing. At times, this is more serious. A tear in the tendon will not be easily relieved and can produce sharp pain. In that case, professional help is needed.

Activities To Avoid or Change:

Brushing after meals by awildwsmile.com

Grooming Doesn’t Have to Be a Pain

Keep your elbow down until you get this pain calmed down. I’m like the gals in this picture. I hold my elbow up when I brush my teeth, shave, etc. Clearly, this dad has a shoulder problem and drops that elbow.

Usually, the pinch or pain is just a trigger point that needs to be released with a little joint work. It may be more, so don’t aggravate it.

Don’t Shoulder the Load

Does that suitcase feel like it’s going to rip your shoulder? Stop carrying it by your side. The same goes for those projects in the yard carrying blocks or bags of potting soil. Or those 2 heavy bags with your carry-on that you’re trying to get by the flight attendant.

If this is a tendon problem, you need to avoid further stress on the tendons until you get it checked. Avoid carrying heavy bags in each hand. Designers from Chanel tried to create a double-bagged, cross shouldered fashion in 2018. I’m sure that it would’ve helped if you had a lot to carry. While strolling on the beach. In an open, long-sleeved jacket. And warm, fingerless gloves. With a pouty, slouchy demeanor. And lots of necklaces. Barefoot.

I’m going to be boringly less haute-couture.

Get a rolling suitcase. Also, get some help in the yard. And, get a longer hose instead of carrying buckets.

This shoulder problem can lead to rotator cuff surgery.

Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is not always in the elbow. If it is from the shoulder, the overhand serve is aggravating your elbow. Did you recently change your technique or frequency in serving? This may be the problem. Back off of the service until you can get this settled down, or use the pain relief patch recommended below resuming play. Ice and stretch the shoulder afterward.

For Temporary Relief:

Still Life

If you have an easy day planned in the office or the airport, use a vapoolant patch like IcyHot or Salon Pas. Place the back edge along the bony part of your shoulder blade. Get the corner of that edge on the bony crown of your shoulder. This will offer a good bit of relief without any trouble. Don’t overuse the shoulder just because it quit hurting. I carry these patches with me when I travel just for this purpose. Salon Pas patches got my achy back through Vienna.

Active Care

If you have a more active day, like playing tennis, use some of the Vapocoolant creams like IcyHot with Lidocaine. The patches will come off with much movement. A tube of IcyHot Cream got my grouchy ankle through Nova Scotia. I learned a lot about Anne of Green Gables with my wife. Good Times.



These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or doesn’t respond to these simple suggestions.

Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:

This is the classic stretch for supraspinatus. A swipe of ice across the top of the shoulder makes it release quicker and easier. Be gentle. Don’t overstretch a muscle that may have an overstretched tendon.

This stretch pulls the arm back and close to the body. This stretches the anterior belly of the supraspinatus. Try both stretches to see which one works better for you.

This stretch pulls the arm across the front of the body. It is more effective at stretching the posterior belly of the supraspinatus. Turning the thumb down and the palm away from the body is more effective for some people. Try it with the palm turned both ways to see which is more effective for you.

If the stretch produces the pain pattern you are trying to relieve, you’re on the right track. Be gentle with short, gentle repetitions using these guidelines for Active Isolated Stretching.

If you get sharp pain at the top, outside edge of the shoulder, STOP and see a professional before continuing.


I’d love your feedback on how this works for you
and any suggestions you might have.
Email me at integrativeworks@gmail.com.

Yoga Corner

Most shoulder openers address the muscles on the front, back, and bottom of the shoulder. This muscle that straps across the top of the shoulder is harder to address. Some yoga sites adopt some of the traditional stretches from physical therapy like those in the section above.

Turn for the Better

The rotator cuff tendons can be also be addressed by rotating the humerus in the socket. Actually, this can be a safe and effective way of stretching the rotator cuff tendons. Mattes uses rotating stretches in his shoulder routine. I have used them effectively with clients and myself for years.

Be gentle and avoid movements that create sharp pain or tingling and numbness down the arm. In those cases, see a professional before continuing with these stretches.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistency in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.