Activities to avoid and change,
Strategies for quick relief,
Stretching for longer-lasting relief,
Corrective Exercises, Yoga, and more…
Typically, people ignore this pain that can’t be reached under the shoulder blade until it becomes chronic. At that point, these trigger points are stubborn and require a little regular self-care for lasting changes. That almost always means some changes in activities. As well, stretching and exercises are needed to free the tight joints and muscles.
Activities To Avoid or Change:
In today’s culture, this is usually 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 heads 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 to cover 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.
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 doesn’t respond to these simple suggestions.
Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:
Doorway stretches are easy and convenient. They offer some immediate relief and can make changes. In a few days, those changes can create notable, lasting relief. Take the time to do them for just a few minutes several times a day. They help to re-balance the shoulder girdle so that this pain under the shoulder blade gets longer lasting 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.
Do You Have Forward-Head Posture?
This muscle is often overstretched and over-powered by Forward-Head posture. As the head moves forward, the opposing muscles become short and strong. Consequently, this muscle becomes overstretched and tight. Once the head has become imbalanced over the torso, this muscle fights to rebalance posture.
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.
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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.
This pain under the shoulder blade releases when the pecs open and the upper rib heads are freed. A little clicking in your upper back might offer some real relief. Check out a set of yoga wheels like the ones shown below.
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. I use them all but preer the small wheel. It has more focused pressure.
I have a set of three and have loaned them to a number of clients for a week. They almost always order a set for themselves. With regular use, I can see a real difference in the curve of their spine.
You can find yoga wheels on Amazon. This one has a great rating but you may want one that is a bit more narrow. Get the ones that works best for your body.
Other patterns that may better match your pain pattern…
Other trigger point patterns
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 appreciate your input and feedback. You will see us adding posts and updating older posts as time permits.
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.
*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make it easier to read, more accessible, and
to include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there will be inconsistency in formatting, content, and readability until we get the old posts updated. Please excuse our mess.