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Self Care – Pain in Shoulder or Forearm while Steering

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

You can get temporary relief from pain in the shoulder and forearm while driving by changing your steering habits and using topical creams. Lasting relief is possible with stretching in most cases

Activities To Avoid or Change:

For Your Safety, Change

Driving with your hand on the top of the steering wheel is dangerous in cars with airbags. Also, the fine-tuning of your shoulder with this muscle aggravates it. Change your hand position from 10&2 to 4&8. This will relax your shoulders, relieve this pain, and make your drive safer in case of an accident.

Some sports activities also aggravate this. Overhand serves in tennis can jerk the shoulder open and aggravate this trigger point. Also, certain overhead exercises like lat pulldowns can aggravate this when the end of motion at the top is jerky. Sometimes, when this is really active, overhead presses, especially behind the neck, can create sharp pain in the back of the shoulder.

For Temporary Relief:

A topical pain patch like IcyHot or SalonPas can help if you placed it over the trigger point. In this case, right over the back of the shoulder, where pain and muscle are located.

The problem is that this area gets a lot of motion, and the patch doesn’t stay. If it doesn’t stay, try putting it on an angle or taping it in place.. IcyHot cream is better, but some people have sensitive armpits.

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:

Lat stretches like this one are usually effective. Here’s a couple of pointers:

  • Some ice-an-stretch opens this faster and with greater change. Not everybody can tolerate ice along the inside of the armpit. In that case, make this a stretch to do in the hot shower.
  • Make sure you open the area between the shoulder blade and arm. Many people do this by bending to the side with their trunk, which helps lats but doesn’t target the teres major. In this pic, she has tilted her head away from the shoulder. Instead, I commonly tilt my head forward and pull my arm behind it. This makes the stretch tougher but really targets the teres major.

Dumbbell pullovers can really help, when you do them right.

I’ve solved this pain many times with sets of dumbbell pullovers. The key is to start light and increase the weight over 5-6 sets. Leave a full minute between sets. At the 5th set, when you’ve been working for about 10 minutes, this muscle releases. With a little heavier weight in that set, this muscle opens up, and the shoulder stiffness dissipates.

If you’re jerky or go too heavy too soon, this will just hurt and stiffen.

I’d love your feedback on how this works for you
and any suggestions you might have.
Email me at integrativeworks@gmail.com.

Yoga Corner

Lots of yoga poses open the teres major. The most common ones reach overhead or stretch the arm out in front of you.

The key is to get the elbow away from the bottom tip of the shoulder blade. Many people are stuck, and the extrinsic back muscles lengthen, but the teres major binds. This yoga practitioner does a great job of opening those lateral scapulohumeral muscles.

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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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*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them 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.