Do you have pain between the shoulder blades? Muscular tension disrupts your days or nights? My article today is inspired by the advice and exercises that I give regularly to my patients as well as those that I propose in my books. They will help you relieve back pain and often affect your sitting comfort, your head movements and sometimes your breathing. Good reading!
Bones that float
Your two shoulder blades are placed on either side of your spine, as if they floated on your rib cage: two identical twin sisters that look like no other bone. First because their shape is exceptional, but also because their operation requires an incredible amount of muscles, including trapezius and rhomboid. These muscles play many roles and may end up running out, stretching and causing you pain. Here are their main functions:
- Maintain your posture and stabilize your shoulder blades on your ribcage.
- Move your shoulder blades when performing certain movements, such as arms.
- Receive some of your body weight when you rest on your hands, forearms, or elbows.
In addition to abundant musculature, your shoulder blades are directly connected to several areas of your body: your arms and collarbones (front) and your spine (back). The latter is often a key element to better understand the origin of the pain between the shoulder blades, because sometimes it comes from the muscles or joints that are located deep, very close to the vertebrae that articulate the with each other, thanks to their articular facets, a little as if the vertebrae were held by the hands. But those in the middle of the back are also articulated with your ribs. This high number of joints gives a lot of stability to this region of the body: it is not for nothing that it is called the ribcage.
I admit that human mechanics is complex and it can sometimes discourage you when it comes to relieving yourself of pain. There are, however, some simple solutions that can give you some relief with respect to the tensions between the shoulder blades. I propose some of them in the next paragraphs. But in some cases you will be able to relieve yourself. I give you some tips that may be part of the solution that will allow you to relieve your pain and get rid once and for all of this point between the shoulder blades. These exercises can be done virtually anywhere, whether in the office, at home or even outdoors.
* Remember that some chest pain is caused by health problems that are not directly related to your muscles. They require a medical intervention, especially if they are accompanied by breathing problems, change of skin or lip color, dizziness or if you are at risk of cardiovascular disease.
7 exercises to relieve pain between the shoulder blades
Preamble: starting position and tips
The next seven exercises are in the following starting position: standing, leaning against a wall and knees slightly bent. If you are uncomfortable in this position, bend your knees further or place a small rolled towel under your head. I recommend this way of doing things, because using the wall makes it possible to better control the compensations that sometimes occur during certain movements.
Tip 1 : No movement should increase the pain.
Tip 2: First make the movements very slowly and at 50% of your normal mobility. If all goes well, do them in full amplitude.
Tip 3: If the position on the wall is not comfortable, do exercises 1 to 4 while sitting on a chair without leaning against it.
Tip 4: Most of these exercises can be done by lying on your back with your knees bent. If necessary, place a small rolled towel under the head.
- Turn your head
After taking the starting position as indicated above, turn the head from left to right, very slowly, 10 times, each side. Your head must stay in contact with the wall. When turning, keep your eyes horizontal to prevent your head from bending or bowing.
- Tilt your head
After taking the starting position as indicated above, tilt the head from left to right, very slowly, 10 times, each side. The tilting movement is made by bringing the ear closer to the shoulder (without moving the shoulder). The back of your head should stay in contact with the wall at all times and your nose should always point in the same direction, in front of you. Note that this movement is usually more difficult than rotating.
After taking the starting position as indicated above, exhale for 10 seconds before even inhaling and without raising your head or climbing your shoulders. Exhaling mobilizes your ribs downwards, a movement that is not often reproduced, especially in the presence of pain or stress. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Raise your arms
After taking the starting position as indicated above, place the arms on the wall so that your arms, elbows, the backs of your hands and fingers are in contact with the wall, then lift the arms to get close to your head by sliding them to the wall, very slowly. When you feel muscle tension, hold the position and exhale as indicated in Exercise 3 for about 10 seconds. Lower your arms and take a break of a few seconds. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
- Roll a ball
After taking the starting position as indicated above, place a ball between your shoulder blade and your spine. To facilitate the exercise, place your hand on the side of the ball on the opposite shoulder, as you can see in the first picture of my article, at the top. (You will also notice that the scapula is slightly detached, which allows better access to the muscles). Slowly roll the ball up and down a distance equal to the length of your shoulder blade. Repeat 10 times, then do the same thing, but from right to left. To achieve lateral movement, you may need to use a smaller ball. Note that it is not useful (nor recommended) to roll the ball directly on the shoulder blade or on the vertebrae.
Tip 1 : Do not use a golf ball or tennis ball. Golf balls are too firm and tennis balls tend to slide on the wall, rather than rolling. I suggest to my patients to use a bouncing ball whose surface is covered with rubber.
Tip 2 : Use balls of different sizes. These can vary from about 3 cm to 6 cm in diameter. The smaller the ball, the more pressure you feel will be precise and high. You can easily find these balls in thrift stores or supermarkets.
After taking the starting position as indicated above, do the same exercise as the previous one except that you will not roll the ball, but instead exert pressure on the sore spot. Hold this pressure for 5 to 20 seconds, then release.
- Apply moist heat
Although not an exercise, applying moist heat for about 20 minutes helps reduce muscle tension, whether used before or after any of the previous 6 exercises. Even if the advice will seem superfluous, I remind you not to lie down directly on the hot wrap. You will avoid some horror stories of people who, relieved by the heat, have fallen asleep deeply to wake up with a relatively deep burn. When used with care, heat can however contribute significantly to reducing your pain.