Pain Between Shoulder Blades When Slouching

Your pain pattern,
What aggravates it,
How to get relief,
and more…

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

People complain of aching along the inside of the shoulder blade that is annoyingly tender when pressed. It begins to ache when they are slumped forward at a desk so that the shoulder blades are spread and the chest is closed. It is sharper and more painful when they press the inside edge of their shoulder blade into a hard surface, like a wooden chair.

When you look at their back, these people have shoulder blades that are either close together and wing out or their shoulder blades are spread far apart and lay close to the ribs. There is a real imbalance between the chest and back muscle so that one has overpowered the other.

This typically bothers them when they are in this position for long periods. When they stand an move, this goes away quickly.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

The onset of this problem is slow, usually over a long period. It may have suddenly gotten worse after an extended period of reaching up and forward. This muscle usually hangs freely and develops this problem when it is chronically overstretched.

The classic pain occurs when you are slumped forward for long periods. For me, this happens when I’m slumped over my desk. I’m a little tired, sitting a little too far away from the keyboard, and my shoulders are pulled forward. I’m just not maintaining the curve in my low back because the seat is too low, or I’m leaning in to look at the fine print.

Many people get this when they are laying back on a couch, reaching forward to work on their laptop.

This also might occur when the shoulder is overextended. This happens while painting overhead with a short brush so that the shoulder blade is stretched up and forward. The same extension may happen when spending a long time to stock a high shelf.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Effective relief starts with an understanding of the anatomy.

About the coloring of the illustrations…

These muscles are flat strips that strap the inside of the shoulder blade to the spine. You can read more about the anatomy in this post about rhomboid muscles.

Other patterns that may better match your pain pattern…

Pain between the shoulder blades is usually some other trigger point that refers to the rhomboid muscles.

Rhomboids get over-treated because the pain is there. Take a serious look at these other posts for the right pattern and associated self-care so you can get relief.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Recommendations.

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 Therapists

Better 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 changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.

Weekly Featured Post

Optimizing Tension for
the Best Day Ever

This post explores this idea and optimizing the ever-present tension in our lives for our best performance.

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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