Not only can a weak supraspinatus muscle hinder everyday activities and workouts, but neglecting the muscle all together can be a source of discomfort and neck pain.  Discover your body blind spots by reaching areas that have become neglected or overworked with Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls.  Ridding yourself of tension in the shoulders and neck will make for a smoother rotation of movement in the rotator cuff muscles as well as avoiding future injury.  Check out this clip of Jill Miller showing us how to roll out the supraspinatus muscle to relieve tension and neck pain by massing deep into the tissues. Learning how to properly use self massage balls helps with upper back and neck pain self treatment.

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Watch our Quickfix video for upper back pain.

Discover more solutions for shoulder pain.

Lauren Cap

After years of being told to stand up straight and relax, Lauren decided to take her first yoga class. She fell in love with the practice and knew it would always be a part of her life. She received her Vinyasa Yoga Certification from Prana Power Yoga NYC and found teaching others to be just as rewarding as her own personal practice. She gravitated towards Yoga Tune Up® as a way to expand her anatomy knowledge and learn personal techniques to live a longer, healthier life. She is thankful to Jill Miller's Yoga Tune Up® teachings for showing her that the truly advanced always know when to modify.

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Thank you for this article and video. It really helps a lot knowing I can just grab my therapy balls and start self massage. It really beats going to a Chiropractor. Very informative.


Thank you for this!

Joann Burnham

Targeting the supraspinatus with the therapy balls relieved a tremendous amount of
tension in my neck. Rolling with the therapy balls will now become a welcome addition to my daily practice.


Thanks this is a great blog and video demo from Jill! I discovered YTU and therapy balls after recovering from a car accident but was still having residual pain and limited range of motion in neck and upper back. The balls were a great help and I loved using this sequence and would add at the end placing head on a block or book, toting my balls and using them to massage at the occipital area where skull meets neck, which was incredible!


Jill is inspiring to watch. She takes her time and illustrates in her videos how usefully YTU balls can be and how anyone can use them, we all have tension. Self massage and the occasional self chiropractic adjustment are good reasons to practice this style of yoga. I feel happy to have found this, my body has not been finding lasting relief from the stretches I am doing on a regular basis.

Mary Eileen

Our “modern” lifestyles create so much tension in our bodies. This really explains and demonstrates the importance of addressing this issue and stay on top of it not only for ourselves but for our students and loved ones.

Vanessa Morales

I have been doing a similar self-massage ever since I got my yoga tune up balls, and it’s been so helpful! I have bursitis in my left shoulder, and it really amazes me how the tightness in one muscle can cause strain in another, and therefore lead me to more shoulder pain. I also tend to work some very long days so I carry a heavy bag with everything I’ll need for the day. Last week I developed a horrible upper back pain so it was back to rolling for me. I’m going to definitely use a block under my… Read more »

Dustin Brown

This is perfect after hard training to speed up recovery and stimulate blood flow into tight and sore areas. Thanks for bringing the supraspinatus into light a muscle that has caused me much grief. Self massage and yoga has changed everything. Thanks for sharing !!


I found this post very helpful. I have had a knot in my upper back for about two months, and I have been stretching it. The yoga tune up therapy balls have added another major dimension to helping this knot release. Using the block to position the body at an angle to reach the supraspinatus is a very helpful technique. Shimmys, chugs, phantom arm movements, protracting and retracting, and self bear hug are all techniques that I am eager to try.


I enjoyed the video clip explaining how to use the yoga tune up balls to massage the upper back, getting into the tightened muscle groups to work out any tension. Feels great afterward releasing and lying back onto your back without the balls. I look forward to using it in my routine!


My neck and shoulders tend to be the area of my body where I hold the most tension. I consistently experience pinching and tightness, as well as knots, in this particular area of my body; It tends to lead to a lot of pain and limitations in my practice as well as regular mobility in the area. After practicing with the YTU balls yesterday, during a training session and in again using them with this video, I can feel a lot of relief in the area and it seems like I have a lot greater range of motion. It’s helped… Read more »

Jessica Greenfield

I currently have a pinched nerve in the right side of my neck and I also tend to carry a lot of my tension in my neck and shoulders. I’m loving the YTU balls because even after just one use they’ve helped to loosen some of the knots in my muscles. I also feel a marked difference in my range of motion, which has been limited, especially on the right. I’m really hoping that with regular use, these issues will continue to improve.


Thank you for sharing this video. I carry a lot of tension in my upper back and neck and this ball sequence provided relief and increased the range of motion in my shoulders after 1 time. The phantom arms cue is very helpful.

Clare Chura

I’m glad that Jill started the pose by supporting her lumbar spine with a block. I normally provide my spine with the same support as I use the therapy balls on my back because it greatly reduces the work that my lower body has to do while in bridge pose. One of my favorite maneuvers to execute with the massage balls is a figure eight motion, too.


I wrote my yoga tuneup essay on the supraspinatus muscle so always love to read about it. i was reluctant to use the balls so close to my neck vertebrae but the video got me over that fear and I already did the same exercises and it felt great.This video is great and was very informative on how to use the balls.Thank you Jill and Lauren


This video was a great and was very insightful on how to use the yoga tune up balls. I just received my set and was still a bit unsure how to use the balls effectively and properly, but this video cleared that right up. I am looking forward to trying the excersize soon!

Sunina Young

Absolutely amazing!! During our Yoga Tune Up class today at Pure Yoga, Trina Altman showed us a bunch of ways to self-massage using the balls– starting from the clavicle, inch by inch all the way down our backs. Am loving it! I use the trigger point roller currently, will alternate and use both.


I haven’t see this with the phantom arm movements before. A very helpful addition when teaching this to a room full of inexperienced students as it is simple and fluid – no way to do it wrong. I found getting students to get the balls in the right place a challenge, so at this stage any additional movement has to be a baby step. Thank you!


After sitting on planes and buses for the last couple of days and sleeping in hotel beds, I woke up this morning with an intense pain in my neck right up towards my levator scapulae origin point! I tried this video, and stayed with the first couple steps are a couple minutes longer and it helped so much! I was starting to get a migraine and it helped keep it at bay!

Great video Jill!

Annette Pasternak

My right shoulder had been higher than my left for years until I started doing this work – now they’re even. And the shoulder and neck tension would often travel up and give me a headache. I’m so thankful for these amazing self-help tools.

tomomi ishimura

I did this session today. It was so amazing to release my shoulder tension. I have been for 7months pregnant. We have a lot of lower back and shoulder pain because of displace of our aliment. Especially my kidney area was sooooo tight and sharp pain I had. It’s really good massage for my body today.


Great info, thanks. This along with my yoga pillow has been a big help.

Leslie Van Schaack

my supraspinatus is a ROCK… so i had to laugh when Jill noted to find an area that was a bit ‘gnarly’. That is the definition of my entire upper back! I had not used the block before to raise my hips up and get better access to my supraspinatous so this will definitley help. and I love the arm movements that contribute to getting into all those areas… you get at so much more than the shimming shaking etc and I can use all the help i can get! can’t wait to try… like NOW!

Elissar Hanna

Thank you for this post (video) and for all the comments everyone. It drove the point home for me that much of our neck pain is actually due to bungled up muscles in the shoulders, cervical and thoracic spine. It’s so valuable to be able to address the neck by targeting other muscles, as the neck is such a sensitive and relatively small place. I’m looking forward to rolling out my upper trapezius, lavater scapula and supraspinatus 🙂

Frances Rothenberg

I have been practicing this sequence for a week and my chronically tense upper back has been feeling immeasurably better. I plan on making this a regular part of my practice. Thank you!

Jenny Buchanan

Thank you Lauren for bringing my attention to this clip of Jill’s for upper spine and neck relief. It works! I also appreciate the creativity of “phantom arms,” Jill suggests – it’s fun and takes my mind off some of the gnarly moments of using the therapy balls under tight shoulders. These are the master strokes of intuition in teaching that make a class original and fun.

Lori Gunnell

This upper back and neck sequence is positively revelatory for me! I cannot believe how successful it is at releasing stuck tension that even the most skilled massage therapist has trouble reaching. I’m so grateful to have your blog and these mini videos to return to whenever i need a refresher. Thanks!


Our bodies are so amazing!!! Our ability to adapt and compensate is endless. I see this most dramatically when I roll out my spine on the YTU balls. I’ll do something similar to this video; on the first side, that shoulder drops at least an inch (more) every time. It’s a dramatic difference and almost freaky that I can be walking around “functioning” with out “pain” in this awkward posture. And as I progressed own the spine,with the YTU balls, the “new normal” is delicious! And, as anyone who has ever spent time roll on the therapy balls knows, a… Read more »

Lori Gunnell

As one who suffers from chronic tension in the neck and upper back, I am deeply grateful for this YTU exercise with the therapy balls. It provides me with tremendous relief that not even a well delivered deep tissue massage has been able to give. Specifically targeting the supraspinatus is so extremely helpful. Thanks for posting Jill’s video for neck crunchers like me.

Nicole Quibodeaux

I LOVE my YTU therapy balls and I LOVE this movement. I practice vinyasa and ashtanga yoga, and no matter how hard I try to keep my asanas well aligned, I still can overuse my upper back…this gives me relief and self care that carries over into my practice and daily life!

Elise Gibney

I do this set of exercises at least twice a week – sometimes daily depending on the amount of tension I’m feeling. This has made a world of difference in my quality of life (and has improved my mood tremendously, according to my husband who would thank YTU directly if he could!). My neck pain has been so much better since I incorporated this into my routine. Thanks for the post – watching the video always reminds me of little things that I can do more effectively in this practice. I just started YTU level 1 training and actually did… Read more »

Tracy L

Awesome. I was recently in a car accident and this is a favorite of mine to help with that, all of the driving I do and life’s stressors that bring muscle tension to this area in my body. Thank you!

rebecca miller

I have been experiencing some neck pain on the right side off & on for a few months. After today’s ball therapy similar to this sequence I am pain free.

Lisa S

Three years after being rear ended I still have pain between my shoulder blades and in my neck. After moving through this sequence I slept without pain for the first time since the accident. This approach to healing might be exactly what I need to rid myself of the final remnants of injury.


Beautiful way to unwind and self massage, best part its totally doable on your own in 10 minutes!

Alison Lloyd-Nijjar

Omg…day 2 of YTU had me go through a spectrum of sensations and emotions as we rolled out our shoulders. The first was this exercise, getting into our supraspinatus. Intense delight!

Crystal Hayward

I love this exercise; I think it is what got me hooked on Jill’s yoga. Thanks Jill for creating great stuff.

Michael Siddall

I am finding this exercise very helpful in relieving neck and shoulder pain but for me more importantly it is showing me and making me more aware of areas in the body that I overdo, initiate action inappropriately and am holding tension>

Rachelle Tersigni

This is such an amazing way to practice self-massage and self-care. I have been a fan of using a variety of tools for self-massage for a while now and was excited to finally get to use the Yoga Tune Up Balls YTU TT yesterday. They are much easier to use and more comfortable than a dowel which is what I have been using. A tennis ball is much to hard and way to intense especially for someone like me who is tender from an injury. If you want to prevent injury this is a great way to keep the muscles… Read more »

Narcedalia (Nars)


I did that excercise today at the YTU TT and I’m a little bit curious about how does that technique apply whit somebody with light deviation of the vertebrae? -….Which make me wonder…, a slight deviation can be caused for extreme tension of the muscles of the upper back that are causing compression or is the opposite? ..or both cases are viable?
thank you!