– Activities to avoid and change,
– Strategies for quick relief,
– Stretching for longer-lasting relief,
– Corrective Exercises, Yoga, and more…
You can get relief from burning shoulder pain and irritating tags with a little self-care. Most of the time, this is a chronic problem. Sedentary people often need some bodywork to help release this pattern. If not bodywork, some ongoing self-care or exercise is needed to restructure the shoulder girdle. Otherwise, this problem lives on the edge and is just waiting to get aggravated by the wrong activity.
Activities To Avoid or Change:
Sitting up straight was good advice from your parents. The post below is great for helping you figure out the set-up and accessories that are best for you.
This problem is almost always about sitting for long periods with your shoulder hiked up. Really, this is chronic tension that is just looking to be aggravated by a jerk on the shoulder or a particularly long day bent over the computer.
This post offers some great ideas for actively sitting without support or sitting with supports that help you avoid pain and fatigue. There are also suggestions about a few useful accessories.
Make it a Point to Move
Simply move more. So, get your arms off the armrests, drop your shoulders, and go somewhere. Many of my clients get the standing desk suggested in the post on seated posture.
Set a timer across the room for 20 minutes, every time you sit down. I use my Fitbit, which reminds me to get up every hour, even if I haven’t set a timer. If you have an Apple Watch or some other smartwatch, set an app to make sure that you move. Anyway, for less than $200 you can start changing this shoulder problem.
You might get one of these ball chairs so that you squirm and fidget. Years of research into sensory processing show that squirming and fidgeting really do help your concentration. Make sure that it is big enough to get your elbows above the desk. Again, check the post on desk ergonomics and seated posture.
For Temporary Relief:
A hot shower across the upper back with stretching the arm down and across will offer some relief. Reach down and forward so that you slide the shoulder blade away from the spine. This picture shows the position of the stretch. Additionally, I have my head tilted away for a little more stretch on the upper trapezius. Beforehand, do a little neck stretching, and this will release faster and stretch more comfortably. Not convenient to shower? A little ice-and-stretch is effective without irritating the skin. Even better, do the breathing exercise listed below.
In this section, I often discuss some vapocoolant patch that helps to release the trigger point. In this case, hot/cold will sometimes aggravate the irritable skin. Instead, try an analgesic like this Aspercreme with lidocaine. It is more likely to offer relief without irritation.
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:
An Effective Start
The exercise in this post is the place to start. It is surprisingly effective at strengthening the muscle that lower shoulders and releasing muscles like the middle trapezius that keep them high and tight.
Following that, you can ease into the next step with one of the yoga poses below.
Like to really boost your progress?
Chest dips on chairs develop those muscles that lower the shoulders. This guy does a great job on several important points:
- his shoulders drop to get his collar bone level
- his arms are slightly in front of his body to open his traps
- he presses his shoulder blades down and forward
On one hand, he’s a little shaky and could drop down further for fuller chest development. For this objective, the reps are very effective.
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This is a nice relaxing pose for gently releasing middle traps. So, hold it for 90 seconds to 3 minutes on each side. Holding it longer creates a “positional release” of the shoulder that is back. At the same time, the front shoulder gets some gentle lengthening.
If you check Google for images of the upward-facing dog, you’ll see that it is a very popular pose. So, look at the position of the collar bone. Check to see if it gets level as the head rises and the abdomen lengthens. For effective release of the middle traps, that’s what you want. This gal does a great job.
Other trigger point patterns
have similar areas of referral
and impaired activities.
Other posts that address pain and irritation in the same area. Take a look at these posts on pain, irritation, and burning between the shoulder blades.
This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began improving the format. We are also adding 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.
Weekly Featured Post
This post shows you how to press out the trigger points and stretch the infraspinatus muscle. It’s a small muscle on the back of the shoulder but creates a number of problems, including:
- shoulder pain when sleeping
- loss of grip strength
- upper neck pain
- pain along the inside edge of the shoulder blade
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. The result will also be more accessible and
will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistency in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.