Upper back and shoulder pain are the worst, especially if they’re between the shoulder blades. This kind of uncomfortable pain prevents people from doing even the simplest task because it limits their range of motion. Luckily, there are a few stretching exercises that can help relieve mild to moderate shoulder blade pain and prevent it from turning into chronic pain.
So what kind of stretching exercises help relieve the upper back pain felt between the shoulder blades? Stretches like trigger point release, trigger point therapy with a self-massage tool, upward plank pose, upper trapezius stretch, shoulder blade stretch, door frame stretch, shoulder rolls, neck release, and scapular retraction are the best ones to try at home to get rid of shoulder blade pain.
Back pain happens to about 65 million American adults at some point in their lives. There are many possible causes of back pain, like spine problems, injury, trauma, and poor posture. But regardless of what causes your upper, middle, or lower back pain, the discomfort it causes can prevent you from doing the things you love or even simple tasks every day.
Sometimes, the pain in the upper back is also accompanied by a dull or sharp pain in between the shoulder blades. Depending on the cause and severity of your pain, you might find that some stretching exercises can help manage the discomfort so you can move a bit better.
Upper back pain in between the shoulder blades may be felt on either the left or right shoulder, but some patients may also experience discomfort on both sides. It can also be acute or chronic pain. Some patients might feel a short but sharp pain caused by sudden muscle tightness or spasm, while others experience a dull ache that lingers and worsens when they breathe deeply.
The pain usually originates between the shoulder blades, but it may also spread to other parts of the upper body and become chest pain and neck pain. It may even extend and develop into middle back pain and low back pain. The muscle strain may also affect some muscle groups including the levator scapula, rotator cuff, upper trapezius muscle, and rhomboid muscle.
Upper back and shoulder pain are quite common, so it’s difficult to determine its main cause. However, some of the most common reasons why patients might be in pain include:
Interscapular pain or the upper back pain you feel between the shoulder blades can be extremely uncomfortable. With the increased use of smartphones and laptops, more people also experience this kind of pain regardless of their age.
Luckily, there are a few physical therapy techniques like stretches and massages that provide upper back pain relief. Here are some of them:
This self-massage technique requires a massage ball or something similar to relieve pressure on the trigger points and tight muscle groups near the shoulder blades. Patients may also use a foam roller to apply firmer pressure.
This technique is similar to the first one but instead of a massage ball or foam roller, patients need a massage hook to manually find the tight chest muscles and other trigger points in their upper body.
This kind of stretching pose opens up the chest and shoulders. It’s also a great technique for strengthening the body’s core and enhancing your balancing ability.
This type of gentle stretch is recommended for people with poor upper back posture since the trap muscles are often tense, causing the pain to extend to the shoulder blade area. Stretching the upper trapezius muscle is essential in lessening the pain and encouraging good posture.
Stretching the shoulder blades is a great follow-up exercise to self-massage techniques. The shoulder stretch works best for releasing muscle tension and tightness around the deltoids and rhomboids.
Any doorway at home can be used for this upper back stretch. The door frame stretch is great for releasing tight chest muscles that contribute to poor posture and shoulder blade pain.
Shoulder rolls are one of the easiest stretches for the upper back and shoulder blades because you can do it anytime, anywhere, and in any position. Although it’s best to do this stretch standing up, you can also do this exercise while on your seat during breaks.
The levator scapulae muscle that runs from the neck up to the shoulder blades can easily get tight, resulting in shoulder and neck pain. This neck release exercise helps relieve the tension buildup in that area.
The scapular retraction exercise is usually performed with resistance bands to strengthen the muscles in your back and between the shoulder blades, allowing you to maintain a proper posture.
Aside from stretching, there are many other ways to relieve upper back and shoulder pain. Resting your back might be a good solution because most of the time, all the tight muscles need is a break. Heat or cold compress might also do the trick, but always make sure to use a layer of cloth to protect the skin from extreme temperatures.
Another common solution is taking over-the-counter painkillers like naproxen or ibuprofen to reduce muscle or joint inflammation. But if none of these methods seem to work, then you might need to see a physical therapist or pain specialist. They can determine the cause of your pain and find the right treatment for you.
Depending on its cause, upper back and shoulder pain can easily worsen and prevent you from accomplishing simple tasks. At Gramercy Pain Center, we help patients manage their pain issues using integrated pain management approaches.
Our team is composed of pain experts who provide all the care and treatment you need for a pain-free life. Call us today to book a consultation for your upper back pain in between shoulder blades and more.