Self Care – Aching mid-back with tired triceps

Self-Care includes
Activities to avoid and change,
Strategies for quick relief,
Stretching for longer-lasting relief,
Corrective Exercises, Yoga, and more…


Activities To Avoid or Change:

Avoid things that yank your elbow from front to back like cranking the lawnmower, raking, or letting that dog jerk the leash. This also gets aggravated by letting the rowing machine jerk forward during the exercise.

One client activated by compressing the armpit against a chair back while twisted to talk to the person behind her. Don’t do that.


For temporary relief:

Use a little IcyHot cream along the back, just behind the armpit. It’ll be more effective than putting it directly on the focus of pain. I know that you want to put it in both areas, I’ve worked with a lot of people on this. It’s ok to put it in both spots. Patches smell less but have trouble sticking here.


Stretches and exercises for longer-lasting relief:

Some relief can be achieved by stretching. These trigger points are along the visible edge of the shoulder blade near the armpit. It is much more effective if you use the ice and stretch method. Stroke the ice along the outside edge of the armpit.

By the way, this also works well if you stretch the arm forward while under a hot shower. Make sure the shower hits the skin along the back of the armpit across to the middle of the back below the shoulder blades.

teaser with lat twist from liveyouryogaretreats.com

This trigger point is in the upper part of lats that needs to be stretched by reaching forward more than reaching up. Poses that pull the arm forward, maybe by gripping the foot help to put an extra stretch on this trigger point. This twisting pose is particularly interesting as it allows the other lat to contract. A back and forth movement, does a great job of taking the upper lat through fuller contraction and stretch.


Other patterns that may better match your pain pattern…

Pain in this area is also an indicator of problems with your kidney or gallbladder.
See your medical doctor, especially if you’ve had changes in bowel function or urination.

This pattern is in the same area but tends to be created by jerking and twisting of the trunk or excessive coughing. For more information look at this post on aching and burning in the mid-back.

This pattern has a focus of pain in the same spot and also extends up the trunk in a similar pattern but is more constant and often extends toward the front. Look at this post on aching in the mid-back that extends up and around.

There are trigger point patterns
that have similar areas of referral
and impaired activities.

You may want to check other posts that refer into the mid-back, back of the shoulder, arm, forearm or hand. These posts also create referrals from the torso into the arm.

In particular, this trigger point also produces burning pain in almost the same spot and This trigger point produces pain in a similar spot with pain/tension that radiates up toward the shoulder.

If this pattern has become active to the point that it is chronic, simple stretch routines will only offer short-term relief. This will help you to manage the problem but doesn’t offer the relief that you would get from bodywork. See your trigger point specialist for lasting relief.


This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


Weekly Featured Post

Can’t Reach the Pain
Under the Shoulder Blade

This pain and tension under the shoulder blade may be the most common pain pattern that I see. It isn’t always the primary complaint as people have gotten used to the constant ache.

It is usually combined with this pattern in the upper neck, which creates upper neck tension to go with the shoulder blade pain.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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