About 2 years ago, I was experiencing a lot of shoulder pain and was diagnosed with biceps tendonitis, which is a fancy way of describing inflammation of the biceps tendon. This was most likely caused by instability in my rotator cuff muscles, which allowed the head of my humerus (aka upper arm bone) to press forward into the tendon. When functioning properly, the rotator cuff muscles act to evenly hold the head of the humerus inside the shoulder socket. A vital part of my healing was using the Roll Model Therapy Balls in addition to strengthening my rotator cuff muscles to keep my humerus centered in the joint instead of compressing the soft tissue and muscles around the joint. This condition caused many layers of adhesions in my tissues that needed to be addressed before doing strengthening work so that I wasn’t reinforcing poor postural patterns in my body. For me, the Roll Model Therapy ball sequences became a reset button for my entire upper body. My favorite Roll Model Therapy sequence to unlock tension in the upper back and shoulders is the following rotator cuff release. See the video below for how to do this self-massage for shoulders!



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Learn more about the shoulder joint and how to heal shoulder pain.

Amanda Winkler

Amanda Winkler, RYT-200, teaches vinyasa yoga and Yoga Tune Up ® in New York City. Through continuous study of movement and the human body, her teaching is strongly based around anatomy and alignment. Amanda aims to teach poses with a purpose, and to inspire her students to play creatively in their own bodies! Follow Amanda at winkyoga.com for more information about her and her classes.

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wow it’s great to read beautiful testimonials that describe how the roll model helped them


Always always an area that needs attention. Its been great having time to experiment with ball rolling in my Level one training.e I will admit, its not something I have done alot of in the past but I am on board now. I even used them today on the train from Washington DC to New York! I might consider traveling with them always!

Cindy Lou Kelley

I love anything related to the shoulders and this Roll Model move is a personal favorite. In addition to being a yoga teacher, I also am a hair stylist. This move is a huge help to unstick shoulder tightness.

Viki Distin

I have a student who I suspect has “mouse shoulder” from too much computer time. Her pain is in the bicep but I am going to have her try this massage and see what happens. Big thanks!


I love the idea of being able to do a mini-massage any time instead of to wait for the next masseur appointment. I found the YTU ball shoulder massage sequence is easier when using the wall (rather than the floor) to get to the back of the shoulder blade.


Great intro to working with infraspinatus! I’d like to see a little more on working with more shoulder muscles 🙂

cg ovalle

Was at the gym today working on shoulders and deltoids. Coming back to the office and reading your article, i grabbed my YTUballs and worked them out. Thank you so much for the information.

Yvonne Cone

Even though I know the whole body is interconnected it still fascinates me how little I truly understood till Level 1 training. I’ve never even thought about tendonitis in the biceps, or it coming form the humerus pressing into the tendon. Mind blowing info and great video for stretching out that area.


Loved this short clip- I serve in a restaurant in the evenings so this is a great way to reset my shoulders after a long night of carrying heavy trays! Thank you 🙂

Erin Kintzing

I am in my YTU Level 1 Training and am fascinated by the shoulder joint because of how “imperfect” the ball and socket joint is, which can lead to so many different types of injuries! I also have a shoulder impairment, though it is not related to my rotator cuff. It’s helpful to read about other’s areas of pain and injury to remind me that my students will have different areas of discomfort and injuries and it is important to learn all the techniques, not just the ones that apply to my personal injury. Thanks for the reminder!

Li Si Yang

Great title and personal story, but the video was not too clear on how to use the balls. It might turn some people off.


I am just finishing my Yoga Tune Up level 1 training and am excited to get my husband rolling his shoulders. He disclocated his left shoulder about ten years ago and still has limited range of motion. After seeing what the balls can do, I’m convinced he will be able to increase his mobility if he uses the therapy balls on his shoulders.

Tara Lazanis

I work in an office and therefore sit at a desk for most of the day. I know that I don’t always sit the way I should which leaves me feeling really sore in my upper back between my shoulder blades. This rolling sequence is such a life saver especially when I do it before I practice or when I know that I haven’t been as mindful as I should be when I’m sitting!

Michelle Tan

Thanks for sharing! I love sleeping on my side, and that compresses my shoulders and neck, I often wake up in the middle of the night by the “numbness” in my fingers. And my biceps/triceps make “clicking noises” day and night. Since I have started using the YTU therapy balls and followed the sequence for rolling shoulders and upper back, the “numbness” and “clicking noises” are gone!


Muscular imbalances are hidden everywhere in the the body. By rolling with YTU Therapy balls … you will find them 🙂

Scott McKee

I’ve suffered from shoulder impingement before and know about the importance of keeping the proper spacing in the shoulder joint to avoid that pain. This video shows one of many techniques to address tightness and issues brought on by chronically poor posture and muscle imbalance. I look forward to seeing the rest of those techniques and putting them into practice. Thanks!

susan kjesbo

I found this to be a teaser as I wanted a bit more instruction on direction and method. I will have to check out the videos referenced. It is also helpful to stop and do a check in prior to doing the rolling so you have a reference after the fact. Thanks.


The video really is a great explanation and visual of where to find the infraspinatus for rolling. Also a good explanation of what was happening your shoulder and how you relieved your pain using the yoga tune-up therapy balls. Thank you!

Rachel T.

From overhead athletes to office workers and everyone in between, this is invaluable! Perhaps if more middle and high school athletes did things like this, we wouldn’t see kids being having to have surgery, sidelined, and sad. I hope more coaches and trainers get a hold of these balls in the near future!

Vanessa Coulombe

Thank you

Jennifer Whalen

Thanks for sharing the video and talking about your healing process. I have pain in my rotator cuff and its nice to not only see that it’s possible to be healed, but how to do so. – Jennifer

Martine Kerr

I’ve had physical therapy for bilateral shoulder issues for years and other than the therapist’s manual work to release tightness, I’ve never been ‘assigned’ any homework to address the issues on my own. Knowing what I do now, I’d also hold off on strengthening work to deal with the adhesions first, and regularly.

Amanda Winkler

C. Chiu I did actually have a lot of positive results with massaging my bicep. I had a really skilled massage therapist release my right bicep, which was shortening and pulling my arm forward and that was a key to unlocking healing and positive change in my shoulder. I think using the therapy balls consistently on the biceps, triceps and deltoids would have similar effects. Thanks for your question!

C. Chiu

Did you have to roll parts of the bicep/rest of arm as well as part of your therapy, or did you stick to the back and shoulders?
Also, this is a great video to describe location of and show how to roll the infraspinatus. Thanks for posting!


I think this is my new favourite YTU pose. Almost everyone can benefit from a good rotator cuff roll out. And it’s amazing what it does to prep the shoulders for downward facing dog! Love it!!

Debra Forselius

I love this warm up with the upper back. As a personal trainer I feel as if I am looking down and rounding over my clients. GREAT! morning warm up, or end of work day to ease that tension.


The concept of softening and releasing the muscle before exercising has changed my body! I see results much faster and feel better all the time now.


I have shoulder instability and crazy tension here. I love to work the infraspinatus and teres minor just outside the shoulder blade along the medial edge, that’s where it gets juicy for me!

Jennifer Kruidbos

Hi Amanda,
This rolling exercise just makes me melt. I knead it so badly. My upper back is so tight, so I will roll out more regularly. However, I think that strength is also important. Can you suggest some upper back strengthening exercises that can help?

Jennifer Kruidbos

Hi Amanda,
This rolling exercise just makes me melt. I knead it so badly. My upper back is so tight, so I am committing to roll our my upper back more often!

Cathy Mook

I love this and I have a partial torn rotator cuff, it felt wonderful

Cathy Mook

I love this video it feels so good and I have a partial torn left rotator cuff! Yhanks

Mei Wong

This felt heavenly and it’s because I hold my stress and tension in my shoulder, left shoulder to be exact. I realize that I can’t get to a massage therapist every day and definitely can’t afford one so this has been so helpful for me. Although initially there was an intense sensation but the sensation was not pain. It was a good amount of pressure. Thank you

Loretta Zedella

There are never too many quick fixes for shouders are there? This one is short and to the point. i don’t know if i have inflammation of the biceps tendon or not. What I do know is that this feels great!


Thank you for posting! I have a hooked acromion which impinges my biceps tendon if my shoulder is not stabilized correctly. I will try the this rolling technique to aid in my own recovery.


I have had issues with my shoulders for over 8 years now. I will be trying this. Thank you for sharing.

Serge Goyette

Thanks for this information, I ve been having shoulder pain for a while now and the yoga tune up balls seems to be the solution for me


Rachel Peppler

Thank You for sharing Amanda!
I just did it as part of learning to roll out the shoulder joint for class. Watching a video of the technique helps me understand exactly how to preform the sequence properly. Which is important to me.

Kajal Jhaveri

Thanks for this post! The upper neck/shoulders are where I carry most of my stress and tension. Every time I go for a massage I tell them to put extra pressure on these areas. I also find my trapezius to bear a lot of the stress from my handbags. So using the yoga balls is a great and cost effective way to give myself the massage that I need.

Kajal Jhaveri

Thanks for this post! The upper neck/shoulders are where I carry most of my stress and tension. Every time I go for a massage I tell them to put extra pressure on these areas. I also find my trapezius to bear a lot of the stress as well as my handbags. So using the yoga balls is a great and cost effective way to give myself the massage that I need.


I love the arm movement in this technique. I just tried it out and I really felt the immediate effect it had on the scapulae. I usually feel a little clicking in my right shoulder when doing that “hitchhiking” motion, but after a little release it had diminished significantly.

Kim Cordova

I 100% need this. It would be great if the article or video could offer some examples of how to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles as well.

Crescent Diorio

I love rolling out my upper back and scapular area with my foam roller. I recently got a pair of yoga therapy balls. It is great how these balls can really target specific muscles and areas better than a foam roller. I have an old rotator cuff injury and carry a lot of stress in my upper back/traps area. Using this sequence is very helpful!


Thank you for sharing. This is also one of my favorite Roll Model Therapy sequence to unlock tension in the upper back and shoulders.

Donna Clark

Great article. I have so many clients that have inflammed biceps tendons and I’m always trying to explain the shoulder joint being forward and so on. You did it so clearly and with one simple technique to get people interested and moving. I’m using this. Thanks!!


Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m excited to try this one tonight.