How to Release Shoulder & Neck Adhesions – Ask Doctor Jo

How to Release Shoulder & Neck Adhesions – Ask Doctor Jo

Hey everybody it’s Doctor Jo, and today I’m going to show you some ways to release neck and shoulder adhesions that cause pain. Let’s get started. So there’s several ways to release or break up adhesions, which is basically scar tissue in different areas of your body, but for the neck and shoulder there’s some really cool ways to do it besides just stretching. There’s this thing called instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization, and the way to do that you use instruments and tools to help get deep in there to break up those adhesions and scar tissue, and so the folks at Sidekick sent me some of their tools which is really awesome. You might have seen these in the clinic, if you’re in the clinic. This is their professional version where you can use on a whole lot of people called the echo, and it’s made out of stainless steel, and that’s really cool. But a version a home version is the curve, and it’s made out of stone, so you probably don’t want to share it because it’s porous, so if you’re using it on your own body you probably don’t want to share it on other people, but what’s really cool about this, I like it is it has a nice little box carrying case here, and you have your tool here, and then on the other side you have some heating balm that when you’re using these tools, you want to put some lotion, some cream, some free up, or some balm to help make it run a little bit smoother, so you don’t get so much friction on it. And what I like to do when I’m in the clinic working with people, is I like to do the technique first, and then do some stretching afterwards to make sure you get those muscles moving back how you’re supposed to, so that’s what I’m going to show you today. And what’s really really cool about these is you can see some immediate results pretty quickly using about three minutes or so, and something to know is you’re gonna have redness that’s going to be really red almost like a burn, when you when you get a rug burn, or something like that and that’s okay, but you don’t want any bruising. So you when you’re doing this yourself, you want to be firm, but you don’t want to be so firm where you end up having bruising afterwards. That’s way too much. And then sometimes little red dots come up called petechiae, and that’s just those little vessels popping and coming up, and they’re almost the size of a little pin point, and that’s okay too, but you don’t really want a whole bunch of those. When it gets nice and red that means that’s the area you want to work because that’s bringing all that circulation and that blood to the surface, so it’s really cool to see so what I’m going to do starting off is just get some of the balm on there and then do some of the shoulder area and then a little bit on the neck too because once you start working with the shoulder, all these muscles are connected so it’s really nice to work all of those. So you just want to put kind of you know a nice amount on the area because you don’t want that tool kind of going you know jumping, you want to be nice and smooth when you do it, so make sure you put a nice a nice amount on there, and let it kind of soak in for just a couple seconds before you start working on it. Now when you have these adhesions, especially in the shoulder a lot of times it’s in that rotator cuff area the supraspinatus area, you know kind of in that posterior capsule side a little bit, and then even the front. A couple years ago I had a labral repair, so you can see some of the scars. Luckily I worked on those very quickly and all that scar tissue is gone, but in a case like that you definitely want your therapist to do some of this to help get rid of that scar tissue. Make sure if you have any incisions or openings they’re completely healed before you do this, so no scabbing even. You want it to be completely healed when you start. So I’m going to do the curve first, and as you can see here is, there a little bit different the echo’s a little bit longer, gives you a little more surface area to do things, but this one is nice too because it fits nicely in your hand. I like to use this curved side right here just to start smoothing everything up. Now you want to stay in each section about 10 to 15 seconds and again you want it to be firm, but not so painful. It’s not the most comfortable thing, but it shouldn’t really be painful either, and and you want to go in one motion so you’re coming up and then doing like this, so you can come back down but you’re not pushing back down too, you’re just pushing up in that surface. And go at a little bit of an angle if you can. I know sometimes if you’re doing it on your own, it’s a little bit harder. I’m gonna move here. See how there’s getting some red in there, that’s good that that means it is bringing that circulation to the area, and it’s going to help that healing process. So I’m going to come back to the front here because over that bicep tendon area I can feel that a little bit more. I probably need to work on it a little bit and you can see how it’s getting that redness but not so much where is bloody red but just where it’s like if you’ve rubbed on it for a while, And you can see I mean it’s not very painful, it’s you know not so comfortable that you could fall asleep, but it feels pretty good because I can feel that it’s doing something you probably only want to do this for three to five minutes at the most. You don’t really want to do anything more than that at a time because then you’re just going to start irritating the skin. Okay now I’m going to move up to the neck area a little bit. And they also have a spray, and so I’m going to put some of that heat spray just on the neck area there, and then i’m going to use the echo tool. And so same kind of motion where you put it a little bit of an angle and just bring it up that neck area where those muscles connect to the shoulder in the neck. So staying on one spot about 10 to 15 seconds, pushing firmly but not so firmly where you’re going to end up bruising later, and then just slowly moving your way around that neck area. So as you can see I had a lot of that petechiae in the back, and I do know that that levator scap and upper trap area are really tight, so once you get that all worked out and nice and loosened up then you can stretch out those muscles. So just to start off with some shoulder stuff and then I’ll end with the neck. So getting that posterior capsule in the shoulder, bring your arm across your body and just gently pull towards you to stretch that back area. And if you’re in the clinic, your therapist might ask you to stretch while they’re doing the technique with the tools on you. And so with this stretch, you just want to hold it for about three seconds, and then relax, and do that three times. So just getting that nice stretch in there, if you want to kind of do a whole stretch together, clasp your hands in front of you and then you can just kind of alternate to each side. So then you’re stretching both sides back and forth, getting a nice stretch in there and then coming back and you can also do a little bit of a trap stretch, and then come back behind your head, and then just push that way. So same thing you’re pushing your elbow back behind you, and then holding that for about 30 seconds, and then relaxing that down, and do that three times. So for the neck area where I had a little bit more going on, where I probably really need to stretch it, we’re going to do the upper trap. So for the upper trap, you want to put the hand of that side that you want to stretch underneath your bottom, and then take the opposite hand keeping your head in a forward position. So not turning downwards but keeping it here, and just do a side bend towards the other side. So just go to you feel a little pull and hold that for about 30 seconds. And I always recommend doing both sides, so then switch sides 30 seconds on that side, and then do three on each side to get that all nice and loosened up. And then the last one which, is my trouble area, that levator scap, you’re going to take the hand of the side you want to stretch, and put it up on your shoulder where your elbows either kind of coming up at an angle, or some people can go all the way up. If you’re tight you can probably only go to about here and that’s fine, you’re just pushing that shoulder blade or that scapula down to stabilize it while you stretch that levator scap, and to do that then you’re going to take the other hand and put it behind you and pull it at about a 45 degree angle towards the opposite knee. So not straight down in front of you, not to the side like the trap, but just at an angle going down that way, and then holding that stretch for 30 seconds, and then coming back up, and again alternating sides so you’re stretching both sides, and do 30 seconds three on each side. So there you have it, those were some ways to release or break up those adhesions in the shoulder and neck area. If have any questions, leave them in the comments section. If you’d like to purchase one of the tools, you can go to our website by clicking the box here. So remember, be safe, have fun, and I hope you feel better soon.

31 comments on “How to Release Shoulder & Neck Adhesions – Ask Doctor Jo

  1. Cathy Horvitz Post author

    Great video! Would you recommend using The Curve on the plantar fascia to help heal plantar fasciitis? Looks like it would be a great tool to bring circulation to that area. Thanks so much!

  2. Nagwa Rabie Post author

    Hi doctor ,sorry my question is not about this video
    I need your help I made a hip joint surgery 6 days ago ,I am lying on my back and some times on the non surgery side with a billow between my knees this position very painful to me when trying to move the upper leg,and due to lying on my back and setting
    most of the times I have horrible pain in the lower of my spinal cord ,I can not sleep I am very tired
    Do you have any solution could I do

  3. Nagwa Rabie Post author

    Total hip replacement (the ball and another part in the socket)
    I do not know exactly what to describe

  4. Nagwa Rabie Post author

    Yes ,it is posterior approach but I do not have any physical therapy I will do it alone with a help of my son may be ,so I asked you for advice if you have videos or link could help I will appreciate your help,and if it is risky to do it without specialist monitoring let me know
    Many thanks to your time

  5. Punky H Post author

    This is fantastic! I've heard of that type of technique, but wasn't sure where to start. Thank you 🙂

  6. Nagwa Rabie Post author

    Thanks doctor for your time ,I will try follow your instructions until I could get someone special in the physical therapy

  7. Punky H Post author

    I have a follow up question (bought the Curve and love it!): is it best to go parallel with the muscle or shoot more perpendicular to it? Thanks!

  8. John E Post author

    My question is that I was originally diagnosed me with Neuropathy. A month later is was diagnosed with Type 2.
    NOW my diagnosis is diabetic Neuropathy

    Any recommended exercises for neuropathic peroneal punch.

  9. abdel abdou Post author

    Hi doctor, these days, every time I do jogging, I will have calves that hurt me, what a movement of relaxation to stop this pain, thank you doctor, I wish you a good health

  10. Bella Rose Post author

    Can this be used to help break up inside scar tissue from shoulder surgery to gain more ROM (not the poke holes on the outside)? If so how soon post op? thx

  11. lavspurs Post author

    Hi Jo, thanks for the great video.

    I have an adhesion/scar tissue on my chest muscle. Do you recommend massaging along with the muscle fibres or across.. or both? I have a lump in my pec due to re-injury and it has become a permanent weak spot.


  12. Sebas D Post author

    Hi Doc, will this help for my SLAP tear surgery. I am having a lot of trouble and pain with the muscle adhesion that it formed in my shoulder. I can't move my shoulder past the 120 degrees without experience intense pain. One day in rehab one of these scar tissues popped and it was very painful, is there any other way to break scar tissue without that brutal pain ?

  13. ebennett7 Post author

    My adhesions are from a 12 year old mastectomy. Too late or can I still get movement? My ROM is perfect- 2 yrs PT, but skin was stuck from time bandages came off

  14. Donna Davidson Post author

    You are awesome thank you so much for all your helpful videos. You are so good and your methods work!

  15. AskDoctorJo Post author

    Use code DRJO10 to get 10% off the Curve or Echo featured in this video here: (affiliate link)

  16. Gene Brode, Jr Post author

    Will these help get rid of scar tissue that's been there for more than 5 years? I keep spraining/straining the same area over my scapulas and stretching isn't cutting it any more.

  17. KC Collins Post author

    So, would it be alright to use this technique on yourself as you are doing here? Or is this just supposed to be a demonstration of what a therapist would do?

  18. Dazyredfox87 Post author

    I broke the distal aspect of my left clavicle that was never treated & I feel like everything from my neck to the lower left rib cage is compressed & super tight. My scapula feels stuck to my thoracic spine. Nobody seems to know what I'm talking about what type of doctor can help? Any advice…. please
    Im going to try this technique for a couple weeks!! thank you for your video!!!

  19. Miraclemeditations Post author

    How often would you recommend someone use the echo or curve? Once a week? Twice? Everyday? I would think you might want to wait a bit between treatments, but I would like your advice. Thank you!


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