As a massage therapist, you know there are aches in certain areas of the body clients commonly complain about, such as the neck, shoulders and back. Of course, every client is different, so the successful bodyworker listens to both the words and the body language of the individual on his or her table, to tailor each session to suit that particular client’s needs.

However, if there is a specific part of the body you find yourself working on over and over again, on many different clients, you may want to use your next continuing-education opportunity to gain enhanced skills for working on this area.

Common conditions bodyworkers might find themselves addressing, for example, are rotator cuff and shoulder dysfunction. This part of the body undergoes heavy use, especially in athletic portions of the population, which may well explain why so many clients present with pain in the rotator cuff and shoulder.

The massage therapist who can effectively relieve this pain and return the client to optimum function as fast as possible should garner a long list of loyal customers. If you wish to hone your skills in working on a specific part of the body, such as the rotator cuff and shoulder, start looking for continuing education that focuses on this topic.
Fortunately, with the number of courses in continuing education that are offered today, either on-site or via the Internet, it should not be hard to find instruction on any number of niche topics. Before you enroll, however, be sure to check with your state or local massage board to make sure the class meets any necessary requirements, so the credits will count toward the renewal of your license.

A class that addresses rotator cuff and shoulder dysfunction will most likely fall under the umbrella of sports massage. As you strive to select the highest-quality continuing education, be sure to do a bit of research on what the class has to offer.

For instance, a course on this topic should teach the pathology, assessment and treatment, as well as self-care, for the shoulder region, with a specific focus on the glenohumeral joint and rotator cuff musculature.

The class should also help students understand and identify possible causes and contributing factors for this condition, such as postural or structural misalignment, muscle imbalance, trigger points and movement dysfunction.
Techniques taught to address rotator cuff and shoulder dysfunction may well include myofascial release, trigger-point release, cross-fiber friction and muscle energy techniques, among others.

Students should be taught the application of basic orthopedic assessments; active, passive and resisted range of motion techniques; and palpation assessment to help isolate and determine the location and type of dysfunction.
Of course, every continuing-education course is a bit different, but these are a few components you might find in a high-quality class on rotator cuff and shoulder dysfunction.

It is up to each massage therapist to decide whether the class offers what he or she seeks. With a bit of forethought, you should be able to find a continuing-education course that will help enhance and refresh your skills.

—Brandi Schlossberg

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