Avoid things that yank your elbow from front to back, like cranking the lawnmower, raking, or letting that dog jerk the leash. That mid-back will start aching into the triceps. Likewise, This trigger point gets aggravated by allowing the rowing machine to jerk forward during the exercise.
One client activated by compressing the armpit against a chair back while twisting to talk to the person behind her. Another client created this pattern by awkwardly reaching out to scrub the shower’s tile. Of course, she doesn’t even use that bathroom. Just scrubs it every month, so it doesn’t mildew.
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.
These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or not responding to these simple suggestions.
Some relief can be achieved by stretching. These trigger points are along the visible edge of the shoulder blade near the armpit.
There are many versions of this stretch. They usually involved kneeling, placing your elbow on a chair, and dropping your shoulder toward the floor. I like this version from Rohan better as it pulls the shoulder blade away from the hips. In addition, this position offers a more active stretch.
If you’re doing this at home, using the ice and stretch method is much more effective. Stroke the ice along the outside edge of the armpit.
By the way, this also works well if you stretch your arm up overhead while under a hot shower. Make sure the shower hits vital areas; the skin along the back of the armpit, along the sides of your body, and below the shoulder blades.
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Poses like this that reach overhead open the lats along the lateral border. Take time to slowly slide the shoulder blade up along the ribs as you reach for the sky. You know you’ve stretched the trigger point when you get the achy mid-back sensation into the shoulder and arm.
This trigger point is in the upper part of lats stretches 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. Also, a back and forth movement does a great job of taking the upper lat through fuller contraction and stretch.
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.
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.
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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.
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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.