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Pain when pitching or reaching behind your body

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
and more…

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

trigger point referral pattern for coracobrachialis

People complain of pain in the front of the shoulder, back of the upper arm, forearm, and hand. The primary complaint is often in the shoulder, especially when reaching behind the back to fasten a bra, tuck in a belt, etc.

The other common complaint is focused on forearm pain. Patients usually complain about the shoulder or other areas when asked if anything else in that arm bothers them.

Some patients complain of the whole pattern in the front of the shoulder and down the back of the arm. There has often been a history of this pain that has become chronic or a recent accident in those cases.

Reaching behind the back is the test for both this muscle and infraspinatus. Both restrict reaching across the low back but with different pain patterns.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

This trigger point can be debilitating for pitchers. It creates intolerable pain in the shoulder that feels injurious and radiates down the arm. The subscapularis is also debilitating for pitchers but produces a different pain pattern and hurts earlier in the stretch.

Carrying objects while the arms are extended also hurt. When you are extending your arm back, it is doubling the stress by stretching the muscle at the same time. Reaching into the car’s back seat to get a bag or tend to a child is a common example. A yanking dog can create sudden pain, which is particularly worrisome when the referral extends all the way into the hand.

As well, this pattern can become active and hurt when people strongly contract the coracobrachialis. This happens when they reach back behind their heads for the seatbelt or headrest in the car. As well, this can hurt when they try to roll the back of the hair with a hairbrush and hairdryer. Again, these are examples of reaching behind the body, but the muscle is strongly contracting instead of stretching.

The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

The coracobrachialis, though a simple muscle, is often overlooked. However, it has statistically significant anomalies. Read more in this post about coracobrachalis anatomy.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

There are stretches and exercises that can help. As well, there are activities you can avoid or change to reduce pain and irritation. Look at this post for ideas that are clinically proven to work.

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise

Review these clinic notes for a more integrative approach to treatment.

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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 significant 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 inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.