The shoulder is complex. There is the movement of the shoulder itself plus the movement of the arm. It’s easy to confuse the two.
When you let your arm hang loosely you should be able to move your shoulder upwards, downwards, forwards and backwards. You should also be able to make forward and backward circles with your shoulders. When you let your shoulders drop you shouldn’t feel pain or tension in your neck or the top of the shoulder.
Shoulder movement is controlled by six muscles which attach to the shoulder blade and/or collar bone. If there is pain or restricted movement these are the places to check.
Holding the shoulder in a neutral position you should be able to move the arm in all directions and make full circles.
Muscular pain sometimes feels like it is in the shoulder joint when the cause lies in one of the muscles that connect across the joint. Particularly the group known as the rotator cuff that also hold the upper arm into the shoulder socket.
Other muscles such as pectoralis major (pecs) and latissimus dorsi (lats) are important in arm movement.
Identifying the cause of the pain is important. In my work I’m dealing with problems which relate to muscles and tendons, which is probably the majority of shoulder problems.
I’m able to tell the state of muscles by touch and help my clients understand what they need. It could be massage, rest, gentle exercise, stretching or a combination of these.
See also Deep tissue massage