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Alleviating upper back, neck and shoulder pain with a spiky ball or similar, is an easy way to get some relief from your symptoms between remedial massage appointments.

Our short spiky ball routine for the upper body targets some of the main areas of muscle tension in the upper body, including upper rhomboids, rotator cuff muscles (teres major and infraspinatus in particular), pectorals, anterior and medial portions of the deltoids and latissimus dorsi. This spiky ball routine is useful for people experiencing:

  • Pain through the front of the shoulder
  • Pain low down between the shoulder blade and the spine/mid-back
  • Difficulty reaching overhead
  • Find it difficult to stop slouching
  • Have difficulty doing up a bra or putting on a jacket
  • Have headaches

It may be beneficial to release some of the tight musculature using this routine and then perform stretches for the corresponding muscles and finally add in strengthening of the muscles which support the spine and scapula. It is worth noting that self care, stretching and strengthening are always going to work best if you can also modify and change your behaviours. For example, if sitting for extended periods is the main factor in aggravating your symptoms, even the most massaged, flexible and strong body is going to need less time sitting in order to improve. Behaviour modification is key to recovering.


When finding the areas to treat, roll with a tolerable pressure until you find a sore point in the muscle, a trigger point, and then pause and compress. Repeating rolling over and over a trigger point may irritate and exacerbate symptoms instead of relieving. Aim for a reduction in muscle soreness and not complete eradication. Perhaps as a guide press with enough pressure to elicit approximately 7/10 discomfort and stop when this reduces to around 3/10. Avoid bony prominences and breast tissue. Once a day should be sufficient as performing too often may irritate the tissues.

Upper rhomboids

Lean with the ball between your back and the wall. The ball should be placed between the spine and the scapula (shoulder blade). The upper portion of this area will be most effective even though many people feel their pain to be emanating from lower down. The lower portion of the rhomboids are very often over-stretched and vigorous massage to this area will not give last-longing relief.

Rotator cuff

The main culprits in the rotator cuff which are accessible to us with a spiky ball are the teres major and infraspinatus muscles. When tight they will pull the shoulders forwards and limit range or cause discomfort in overhead movements. You can find these muscles over the back of the shoulder blade.

Deltoids | Spiky Ball Routine For The Upper Body

The anterior or front portion of the deltoids is often tight after holding the arms forwards of the body for long periods, as they might be when sitting and typing on a keyboard or using a mouse. Facing the wall, use pressure over the front of the shoulder, just down from the bony bit.

The side of the upper arm at the shoulder level may also be tight and contain trigger points if the arm is held out to the side of the body for long periods, as it may be in desk work and repeated use of the mouse. Turn side-on to the wall and apply pressure.

Pecs | Spiky Ball Routine For The Upper Body

Facing the wall press the ball between the chest muscles and the wall from close to the sternum but underneath the clavicle (collar bone) and move slowly across the top of the pectoralis major muscle, following the line of the clavicle, treating trigger points as you find them. Avoid bony bits and breast tissue.

Lats | Spiky Ball Routine For The Upper Body

The upper portion of latissimus dorsi will pull the shoulders forwards and inwards if overly tight. Aim for the thick portion of muscle running down the back/side of the body and beneath and just back from the armpit. It is the chunkiest bit of muscle you can reach around and grab a hold of with the other hand. Stand side-on to the wall and move the arm out of the way. This muscle can often take quite good pressure. Avoid the ribs and the armpit where there is not much muscle coverage.

Melbourne Natural Therapies
Spiky Ball Routine For The Upper Body
Myotherapy Melbourne