Upper Arm Pain Relief

Upper arm pain is mostly caused by tight muscle tissue and trigger points in your neck, shoulders and arms. Here you get a self-massage manual to release this tissue and to achieve relief, respectively.


Why Self Massage?

Massage Description Of...

... Your Arms

... Your Chest

... Your Shoulder

... Your Scalenes

Potentially Responsible Muscles

Your Self Assessment

Further Articles

Stress, too much work in the gym, a car accident, intensive rock climbing and rounded shoulders, … . I could go on and on. The list of possible causes that can lead to tight arm, neck and shoulder muscles is endless.

Still, it does not change the fact that those muscles get too tight and develop trigger points because they get overused. I explained this in more detail in my article muscle and joint pain causes.

But now, let us focus on getting YOU out of pain.

Upper Arm Pain Relief: Why Self Massage?

As I said, your arm pain is probably due to muscular problems. That means due to excessive muscle tension and/or trigger points. In both cases, self-massage is the way to go in order to achieve relief. It is cheap and effective. Why?

Concerning Trigger Points

They just don't vanish like that but stay in your muscles for years and years if you don't treat them. The good thing is, that they can be “squeezed out” of your muscles with self-massage, given you repeat it often enough.

Concerning Muscle Tension

When muscles are too tight, they are so because your nervous system tells them to be in that state. It is the control station of your body and thus of your muscular tone. With self-massage you “communicate” with your nervous system and tell it to let go of unnecessary tension. This communication takes place through the mechanical force that you apply on your muscles with your hands or other massage tools.

You couldn't follow along the video? Below you will find my written descriptions.

Upper Arm Pain Relief: Description Of Your Massage

In the next paragraphs I will guide you step by step through the self-massage of the areas and muscles in your body that are very well known to induce upper arm muscle pain.

All you need to know, is that you probably won't have to work on all these areas. You only want to focus on tight and tender spots in your muscle tissue. However, to find out which areas that are in your specific case, I strongly recommend examining all of them for tenderness, and later on to only work the problematic ones

Each of the following paragraphs deals with a certain region of your body and some of its specific muscles. If you need or want to review a muscle in detail, visit the section “Potentially Responsible Muscles” or follow their links in the text.

1. Upper Arm Pain Relief: Self-Massage Of Your Arms

Muscles: Biceps Brachii, Brachialis, Triceps Brachii

We will begin your massage with the biceps brachii, which is the very prominent muscle on the front side of your upper arm.  For the massage itself I recommend using the press and move or the thumb technique. On this page I am describing the press and move technique.

Form your hand like a shovel and grab around your biceps. Press with your fingertips into the muscle while supporting your pressure with your thumb on the backside of your arm. Now slowly bend and extend your elbow while searching with your fingers for tender spots. Most of the times you are likely to find them in the mid section of the muscle, and often those are the ones responsible for pain in the upper arm.

When you find a tender spot, stay there with your fingers and slowly move through the painful range of motion for about 20 times. Proceed like this with every tender spot in your biceps brachii.

Biceps Self-Massage

Biceps Self-Massage

We will go on with your brachialis, which lies a little bit hidden under/aside your biceps. Place your thumb slightly above your elbow, at the outer border of your biceps.

Now press in the muscle tissue and move your thumb a couple of times to the left and right. By doing so, you can feel a little roll of muscle jumping under your thumb. This is your brachialis.

The muscle spans from your elbow to the upper half of your humerus. Use the thumb-technique to massage it for a maximum of 15 very slow strokes.

My tip: Pressurize it from the inside, so that you are not going to massage the nearby running nerve.

Brachialis Palpation And Self-Massage

Now we shift our attention to the triceps brachii. Here it's only one point on its inner side that can cause upper arm pain, and sometimes it may be tricky to find. Still, I am sure you will work it out.

Sit down on a chair or a table and turn your elbow in a way, so that its backside/olecranon is facing your belly.

Now grab around your elbow and put your thumb on its attachment tendon, which you can feel by simply contracting your whole arm.

Let your thumb slide a little bit “inside”. Tighten up your arm and you can feel the triceps contracting under your thumb. Keep the tension.

Move your thumb on the muscle 4-5 centimeters upwards and then release its tension.

Move 1-2 centimeters towards the inside of your upper arm and then push into the muscle. Now you are in the area of your triceps that can cause upper arm pain.

Inspect this area thoroughly for a tender spot and massage it – if present – right over its most painful location with the thumb-technique. Again, 15 strokes are enough for one session.

2. Upper Arm Pain Relief: Self-Massage Of Your Chest

Muscles: Subclavius, Sternalis

Let us begin with the area right below your collarbone. Here is your subclavius muscle located, which is causing lots of upper arm pains. For massage, use the finger-technique.

Feel your your collarbone and press with your fingertips in the “soft” area right below it. Support your massaging hand with your free hand in order to safe your joints, and search for tender spots all along your collarbone.

You are likely to find the tenderest ones towards its inner ending, right before it meets with your chest bone. Massage each tender spot max. 15 times in a horizontal manner.

Subclavius Self-Massage

Now we will examine the sternalis muscle. It is variable and not existent in every person.

I recommend to use the tennis ball massage in order to check the area along your chest bone for tender spots, as this is where the sternalis is located, if present.

Work/roll over each spot for max. 15 times with very slow and precise strokes.

Sternalis Self-Massage

3. Upper Arm Pain Relief: Self-Massage Of Your Shoulder

Muscles: Deltoid, Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus

We will start with the front of your shoulder and the anterior part of your deltoid muscle, respectively.

To feel the muscle, place two or three fingers on your opposite shoulder and then raise your arm. With that movement you will feel the deltoid contracting. Now lower your arm again but stay with your fingers on the muscle.

Start to press in it in order to search for tender spots. Of course you can lift your arm every now and then to make sure you are still on your anterior deltoid.

Massage each tender spot max. 15 times with the finger-technique or the tennis ball massage, using slow and precise strokes.

Anterior Deltoid Self-Massage

We proceed with the area of your shoulder blade, where we will work on two muscles of your rotator cuff that are known for being able to initiate upper arm pain. Those two muscles are the supraspinatus and the infraspinatus.

Let's begin with the supraspinatus. You can work this muscle very good with the press and move massage technique. To do so, push your fingers in the muscle tissue slightly above your spine of scapula, which is the bony line that you can feel on your shoulder blade. Now start to lift and lower your arm a couple of times and search with your fingers for tight and/or tender areas – while you do so, you can feel the supraspinatus sliding under your hands –. As soon as you find one, stay there and move your arm for about 20 times through that area.

Palpation Of The Spine Of Scapula

Supraspinatus Self-Massage

Now we go on with the infraspinatus muscle, which is located right below your spine of scapula. I recommend massaging it with a tennis ball.

Place the ball on your shoulder blade, below this spine and press yourself against a wall. Now search with the ball for tender places on the muscle and massage each of them with max. 15 slow, short and precise “rolling motions”.

Infraspinatus Self-Massage

4. Upper Arm Pain Relief: Self-Massage Of Your Scalenes

Muscles: Scalenes

Due to the complexity of the scalenes, I would like to refer you here to their own page – link below –. Don't spare them out in your bodywork as they are involved very often in upper arm pain.  I know, sometimes it can be a hassle to learn so many new things, but believe me, it´s worth it. Time invested in self-massage, is time invested well.

To learn more about those muscles, follow the links below and get very detailed and valuable info.

Potentially Responsible Muscles For Upper Arm Pain

The following list gives you an overview of muscles that can, if too tight, cause pain in your upper arm. If a muscle is highlighted with an „!“, it means there is a big change that it is a troublemaker.

All you have to do now, is to follow the „feel and massage instructions“ you will find as soon as you click on the chosen muscle.

Also use common sense: If you are a construction worker, the reason why you have upper arm pain may be due to overworked arm muscles. On the other hand, if you spend all your day at a desk and ending up with a tight neck and tight shoulders, you might be better off checking those muscles.

Still, with that list in your hands you now own extremely powerful information for arm pain relief.

Biceps Brachii!



Pectoralis Major

Pectoralis Minor






   Triceps Brachii!

Your Self Assessment For A Successful Arm Pain Relief

Evaluate your self massage on a frequent basis. Which areas benefited the most from your bodywork? Which are the most painful ones – indication to work them – and which ones were soft and and not painful at all? How did your upper arm react to the massage?

Experiment and stick with the things that are working for you. If you find something is not working, make sure you are doing it right. If that's the case and it doesn't bring the desired results, dump it!

Thanks for reading: I hope it will help you with your upper arm pain.

In case of any questions, feel free to contact me.

Further Articles

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