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Self Care – Sharp Upper Back Pain Between the Shoulder Blades

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

Self-care for this type of sharp, upper back pain can be quick and easy relief for many people. If it is recurring or doesn’t seem to let go completely, see your bodyworker.

Activities To Avoid or Change:

Once you have this condition, it tends to be difficult to avoid involuntary movements that grab and aggravate it. You will find that you guard against sudden movement and deep breaths.

That being said, this is aggravated by sudden movements like sneezing, losing your balance, or looking over your shoulder to change lanes. So, you will find that you guard against sudden movement and deep breaths. It is also aggravated by odd sleeping positions and is usually the least painful when you sleep on your back.

For sure, avoid precarious balancing positions like painting a soffit or reaching back to change a high light bulb. Slightly irritating repetitions, like twisting to move stacks of paper or tending to a child in the back seat, also make this worse. These repeated irritations tend to inflame the joints and exacerbate this condition making it harder to resolve.

For Temporary Relief:

Topical Patches

You can put an Icyhot patch right on the painful area. It will offer some relief almost immediately. Over the next hour or so, it will probably click and release. It may, however, just reduce this to a dull tension instead of sharp pain.

Quick Release

I use this technique whenever I need quick relief from this pain.

  • Lay across the hard edge of a sturdy table so that the tender spot lays close to, or directly on the edge of the table. If this is a hard table and it is painful, you may want to use a towel to pad the edge.
    In this picture, I’m doing this on the edge of my treatment table here, but have used a sturdy coffee table, kitchen counter, or exercise bench at home. Find a spot that is stable and easy to get on and off.
  • Breathe out and let your hips drop. Relax into the tender spot that is laying on the edge of the table.
  • Keeping your hips dropped and your breath exhaled, slowly lift your head with your hands to stretch the section of your back that lays on the table. Don’t jerk or bounce. Be gentle. It may take a little adjusting of your position but it usually moves.
  • This usually releases with a gentle click.



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:

Gentle, Steady Movement for Relief

The breathing exercise in this post is usually great for this. I will sometimes use it as the fastest and least painful way of releasing this in session. Walking through this with clients helps them to see that this process works best when it is not rushed.

If you are in a spot and don’t have the magazines, do this on a rolled towel. In some cases, where the client is unusually thin or sensitive on the back of their ribs, it is better to do this exercise face down with a towel along the sternum. Breathing in and out deeply, to the point of tension and for about 10 minutes.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is up-circle-seven-3-pack-1020x650.jpg

This 3 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.


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

The secret here is to get the right tension on the vertebrae and then breathe into that spot to get it to click free. This yogi has done a great job with these two twists of the upper back.

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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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