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Self Care – Sharp Pain in Front of Shoulder, Tight Low Back

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Self Care for this trigger point problem in the latissimus dorsi can be very effective. Use gentle and steady with the stretches and avoid aggravating it by jerking the arm up and forward for quick relief. If this is persistent, see your bodyworker.

Activities To Avoid or Change:

from Crossfit.com

Avoid things that overload this section of the latissimus dorsi by pulling it up and forward. Exercise is one of the most common sources of injury. The most common offenders are some sort of pull-down or pull-up that jerks or stains the muscle. A more fragile individual may activate this pain pattern by reaching up for assistance as they fall into a seat.

Also, this tends to aggravate people who reach up to take a plate off a high shelf or place items on a high shelf in the closet. Get some help with that.

Stop sleeping on this side until you rehabilitate this pattern. Especially avoid sleeping on your side with your arm under your head, which stretches the muscle and compresses this trigger point.

For Temporary Relief:

Use a little IcyHot patch on the back so that it covers the lower ribs, in the back, where the little green asterisk is in the illustration. I know that you want to put it on the shoulder too. I’ve worked with a lot of people on this. It’s ok to put it in both spots.

After you’ve put the patch on, reach up a few times as it shows in the pic below. This will stretch and release the trigger point. Also, avoid sitting on a hard seat that presses into this spot.

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 not responding to these simple suggestions.

Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:

Reach for the Stars

Some relief can be achieved by stretching. These trigger points are along the bottom ribs. You will be much more successful if you use ice-and-stretch along the base of the ribs to release this.

This pic from Aaron Mattes’ book Active Isolated Stretching is the only pic that found where they got it right. There are a few things worth noting. Turn the hand so that your palm faces out before starting the motion. This will reduce pinching in the front of the shoulder. Take the turned hand forward and up in a big arc so that you’re reaching toward the ceiling. I find it more comfortable to do this standing with my other hand on a doorknob. This stabilizes the torso and makes the stretch more effective.

By the way, this also works well if you stretch the arm up and over while spraying the back of the lower ribs under a hot shower. Most people don’t have a shower where they can do this with the shower while turned so that the hot water is spraying on their side.

Change the Angle

Stretches like this are helpful when you get the angle just right. Make sure that you feel the stretch all the way into the low back at the base of the ribs. Try to stretch by pushing the arm forward instead of pulling so hard. Just use the forward hand for a little assistance and guidance, not for the main stretch. Icing along those lower four ribs makes the release easier and more complete.

Many websites feature a lat stretch while using a foam roller. for most clients, this is too aggressive and aggravates the trigger point. Also, this trigger point is down near those floating ribs and you could aggravate and attachment or even snap a rib. I’ve seen people aggravate those attachments on the pointy tips of the floating ribs. In short, it can create soreness for days and now you have a bruise to ice and patch. I’d avoid it.

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

This trigger point is in the lower portion of the long, lateral belly of lats. It needs to be stretched by reaching up while dropping the hip. This works best after some twisting poses that loosen the shoulders and mid-back.

Without a warm-up, this is the trigger point that makes your low back stiff and shoulder ouchy when you do this pose.

Other trigger point patterns
have similar areas of referral and impaired activities.

You may want to check other posts that refer to the low back or front of the shoulder.

There are a couple of trigger points that are very similar.

If this pattern has become active to the point that it is chronic, simple stretch routines will only offer short-term relief. This will help you to manage the problem but doesn’t offer the relief that you would get from bodywork. See your trigger point specialist for lasting relief.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.