Self Care – Can’t Reach Pain Under the Shoulder Blade

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:

In today’s culture, this is almost always a problem with being chronically bent forward while working on paperwork or with a screen. One of my clients also got this from knitting while her family watched TV at night.

This post offers a couple of different approaches to being seated without pain, one for the more active person and one for the person that needs more support. It also has a few accessories to help support you.

Stop stretching your head forward.

I know that it feels good but the relief is temporary and it makes this problem worse in the long run.

Don’t dig into the area between the spine and shoulder blade by laying on a ball. It feels good and sometimes gives some relief, but I’ve had several clients create worse problems by jamming rib head and vertebrae One client was laying on a big vibrating massager and ruptured a disc,

Instead, use the exercises or yoga wheel that I discuss below. Those approaches will loosen them more evenly. They require a little more patience and but are less likely to aggravate the area.

For temporary relief:

A topical pain patch like IcyHot or Salon Pas on the green asterisk can offer relief and is often unexpectedly energizing. People seldom get how draining constant pain can be.

Place the patch so that it covers from the base of the neck to the top corner of the shoulder blade. Placement doesn’t have to be perfect.

If it’s hard to keep one on because the clothes rub it, or you’re wearing a top that shows the patch, use some of the cream. It doesn’t last as long and some folks are bothered by the smell but it’ll help.

The exercise in this post is really great for releasing tension in the head, neck and upper back. It is particularly good at strengthening the muscle that lower shoulders and releasing the muscles that keep them high and tight.

Stretches and exercises for longer-lasting relief:

Doorway stretches are easy, convenient. They offer some immediate relief and can make changes, in a few days, that create notable lasting relief. Take the time to do them for just a few minutes several times a day. They really help to re-balance the shoulder girdle and allow the upper back to get relief.

This post has a breathing exercise to help with retraining your posture to be upright.

It also has a link to Amazon to get a set of yoga wheels, which are more aggressive but make faster changes. They can be great for popping those joints loose in your back.

This muscle is often overstretched and over-powered by short strong muscles in Forward-Head posture. It becomes overstretched and tight as the head moves forward. Once the head has become imbalanced, this muscle strains to hold the weight of the head back.

If you have Forward-Head Posture, review this collection, especially the self-care suggestions for changing your environment and the exercise Tuck, Tilt, Turn and Lift.

Build your extrinsic back muscles. This means that you should do exercises that drive your elbow up and back—shoulder presses, upright rows, posterior flys, etc. Start with moderate work, every other day. After about three weeks, you can go up in weight and intensity.

Do you use an elliptical trainer? You can help by keeping your head back, your chin down, and slightly exaggerate the shoulder movement as you move your arms front to back.

Yoga Corner

Camel Pose by

If you’re a yoga practitioner, focus on those chest openers, like camel pose and backbends. Observe the tension in the base of your neck as you take your head back. Watch how many people miss this critical part of opening their shoulders.

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This three-pack of yoga wheels helps to mobilize and reshape your spine. I use a 3-pack like this regularly to loosen my back and recommend them to clients that like self-care activities at home.

They can be particularly satisfying to use on this type of upper back problem.

Other patterns that may better match your pain pattern…

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

Check out these other posts for pain around the shoulderblade.

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

Understanding Why Tension is an
Important Part of your best days.

This post explores this idea and optimizing tension for our best performance.

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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Please note that some of the product links in the posts are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you purchase through that link. I’ve personally used most of these products and believe are genuinely helpful. Some products aren’t appropriate for me so I recommend it based on my experience with clients or the reviews online. The commissions I make are small and not worth promoting lesser products that would not produce suitable value. And please note, I do not advocate buying something that you can’t afford or that you’re not yet ready to implement.