Researchers have discovered that massage therapy is a viable solution for posterior shoulder tightness. The report, published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders discovered that massage was a viable treatment for muscular tension in the shoulder region, but was less effective if the symptoms were long-standing, higher limitations on their shoulder functionality (for example, if they started with a lower range of motion and strength in the shoulder), and less tightness in the posterior deltoid (located at the back of the shoulder, forming the top of the upper arm).
The report states that 'clinical approaches like mobilization, stretching, and/or massage may decrease shoulder tightness and improve symptoms in subjects with stiff shoulders.' The study involved 43 women and 17 men with a median age of 54 years old. The subjects were randomly assigned into control and massage groups to test the ability of massage to reduce muscular tension. A physical therapist targeted the posterior deltoid, infraspinatus and teres minor muscles of the rear shoulder, applying treatment for 18 minutes two times a week for a duration of four weeks. Control group participants recieved light hand touch on the muscles for ten minutes twice a week for four weeks.
The study analysed the muscle tightness of the three shoulder muscles, as well as the mobility and functionality of the shoulder joint to determine the effectiveness of the treatment. Massage was deemed effective if all of these factors improved by at least 20% over the course of the study, and ineffective if it didn't meet this benchmark. Overall, 21 subjects responded well to the treatment, with only 8 reciveing a score below 20% improved functionality, resulting in findings in favour of massage as a useful tool for relieving tension and improving muscle and joint mobility in human subjects.