Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,
The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
How People Describe This Pain Pattern
People complain of an area of aching pain at the base of their shoulder blade. They can’t reach it and may ask to trace the spot on my back or on the illustration that I have on the wall. It has a constant ache that unexpectedly becomes more painful on certain movements. It can be painful if a dog jerks on the leash or if they are using their arm to support their weight as they come down a ladder.
The referral down the arm is only present when they are involved in heavy weight training or rowing or involved in a pulling exercise like raking, weeding or water skiing. It is also present when this trigger point has become very active and chronic.
This referral makes the triceps ache with fatigue quickly during pullovers, lat pull-downs, or pull-ups and tasks like raking. It seems odd to the person that their triceps ache while doing lat exercises.
They often fail to find relief from bodywork as this muscle is overlooked and awkward to treat. The aching creates concern about kidneys or gallbladder which also create pain in this area. These should be checked by a medical doctor, especially if there are other indications.
How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
This is usually aggravated by a forward pull that overstretched the upper latissimus dorsi. Ok, you probably aren’t a beefy water ski trickster. It is more likely to be strained by:
- a dog on a leash
- a kid jerking your arm
- jerking while rowing
- trying to unstick a door.
Occasionally this is caused by an upward jerk, but that usually activates another trigger point.
The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
Lats are complex muscles connecting to way more bones in the back than people realize. You can read more about that in this post about latissimus dorsi.
Pain in this area is also an indicator of problems with your kidney or gallbladder.
See your medical doctor, especially if you’ve had changes in bowel function or urination.
Getting Relief on Your Own
This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.
Treatment Notes for Massage and Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.
This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.
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.