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November 28, 2017 Amelia Wilcox

Subscapularis Muscle and Myofascial Chair Massage Techniques

As a massage therapist, you may be wondering how you can provide your client with a relaxing chair massage that will effectively reduce their muscle pain and/or tightness.

By incorporating myofascial techniques into your chair massage services, we hope that you will be able to enhance your skills and practice, and help your clients feel their very best!

In this video, Ryan demonstrates effective techniques for working on the subscapularis muscle during a chair massage.

Hundreds of muscles make up the human body. This poses massage therapists with an interesting and unique set of challenges. Determining which muscles may be causing your client’s discomfort will help you customize their massage session accordingly.

The duration of a chair massage can be relatively brief. Because you will often work under a set of fixed time constraints, it is important that you are making the most productive use of your and your client’s time.

Subscapularis Myofascial Techniques for Chair Massage


Asking your client what they do for a living will likely give you insight as to which areas you may need to dedicate more attention and focus towards. Sitting at a desk for a consecutive number of hours on a daily basis often can lead to overstretched lower back muscles, in addition to overstretched muscles in between the shoulder blades. Back pain is a highly common complaint among many chair massage clients.

Before you begin your session, observe your client’s posture. Then analyze it!

  • Are their shoulders protruded inwards towards their pectorals, and/or are they elevated upwards towards their ears?
  • Are their hips tilted anteriorly or posteriorly, and/or more on either their right or left side?
  • Is their neck protruding forwards?

Rather than dedicating their session in its entirety to working on muscles which are likely already over-stretched, like their quadratus lumborum, trapezius, or rhomboid muscles, check to see if their opposing muscles are tight and/or overly contracted.

If so, you may want to apply myofascial techniques to their pectorals and subscapularis muscles. The subscapularis muscle originates at the subscapular fossa and inserts into the lesser tubercle of the humerus. Its function is to internally rotate and adduct the humerus bone, and additionally, it works to stabilize the shoulder.


Subscapularis Muscle and Myofascial Chair Massage


To apply a myofascial technique, you can move your client’s arm into an extended position and pin it back with one arm while making a slightly rotating motion.

This will change the muscle memory of an inwardly rotated shoulder.

Massaging the pectoral muscles and applying pressure to the top off their trapezius will also help by changing the direction of their muscle tissues.


chair massage training


Some advantages to working the subscapularis muscle are that by releasing it, muscles in the back of the neck, and in between the shoulder blades will often release too.

While massage is generally very safe, you still want to make sure that you are taking the proper precautions with all of your clients. Make sure that you ask your clients whether or not the area is tender and then adjust the pressure accordingly. Since there are many nerves and blood vessels in the region of the subscapularis muscle, you will want your client to communicate any strange sensations like pain or tingling.

Finally, remember to receive consent before you work on any areas that your client may consider sensitive, like their scalp, face, pecs, glutes, and feet.


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Amelia Wilcox

Amelia Wilcox is the Founder and CEO of Nivati, a leader in corporate massage and employee mental health support since 2010. Her high-growth B2B company provides employee stress management tools that arm businesses with actionable data and positive employee experiences to improve wellbeing, boost morale, and increase engagement.

Amelia has exponentially grown her company from a solo living-room service business to an international technology brand.

Recently listed as a Forty Under 40, Fast 50, Inc 5000 Twice awarded National Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year

Licenses, Certifications & Memberships
Licensed Massage Therapist since 2002
Member of American Massage Therapy Association
Served on Utah Worksite Wellness Council from 2012-2015

Attended Utah College of Massage Therapy
Educated in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Utah

Massage Magazine (AMTA's publication)