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Exercises to Reduce Shoulder Blade Pain

by
author image Aubrey Bailey
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.
Exercises to Reduce Shoulder Blade Pain
Stretches can decrease shoulder blade pain. Photo Credit EHStock/iStock/Getty Images

Shoulder blade pain can be particularly annoying. Not only can it be caused by multiple things -- pulled muscles, poor posture, neck problems -- but it's also that part of the back just out of reach, making it difficult to treat yourself. Regardless of the cause of your pain, there are several exercises you can do to relieve some of your discomfort. In some cases, shoulder blade pain can be a sign of a significant neck problem such as a pinched nerve -- particularly if you also have numbness, tingling or weakness in your arm. See a doctor for an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your shoulder blade pain.

Read more: Muscle Spasms After A Workout

You don't need fancy equipment to treat shoulder blade pain.
You don't need fancy equipment to treat shoulder blade pain. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Trigger Point Release

Shoulder blade pain can be caused by muscle spasms called trigger points. You can perform trigger point release using a tennis ball.

HOW TO DO IT:

Step 1

Place a tennis ball on the floor or other firm surface. Lie down on your back with the ball under your shoulder blade.

Step 2

Bend your knees and use your feet and legs to slowly adjust your position until the ball is resting directly on the painful area. You might experience a sharp pain or burning sensation in this position, but this is normal.

Step 3

Remain in this position for 30 to 90 seconds until the pain subsides. Repeat this procedure on any nearby sore areas.

If you sit a lot at work, you might have poor posture.
If you sit a lot at work, you might have poor posture. Photo Credit Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

Postural Exercises

Shoulder blade pain can develop from poor posture. If you sit a lot, you might notice that over time you start to slouch over. Exercises can reduce shoulder blade pain as well as improve your posture.

Doorway Stretch

Sitting in a slouched posture causes muscles in your chest to be tight. These muscles can be stretched several times per day using an open doorway.

HOW TO DO IT:

Step 1

Stand in an open doorway with your feet staggered for improved balance. Place one forearm against each side of the doorway with your elbows at shoulder height.

Step 2

Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch across the front of your chest. Do not stretch to the point of pain. Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times.

Step 3

Repeat this stretch with your elbows slightly lower and then slightly higher than shoulder height to target different areas of your chest muscles.

Shoulder Squeezes

Shoulder squeezes strengthen muscles around your shoulder blade that help you sit up straight.

HOW TO DO IT:

Step 1

Sit up straight on a chair or other firm surface without back support. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees.

Step 2

Squeeze your shoulder blades down and together. Do not allow your shoulders to shrug up. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times, working up to three sets in a row.

Yoga can decrease shoulder blade pain.
Yoga can decrease shoulder blade pain. Photo Credit fizkes/iStock/Getty Images

Cat and Cow Stretch

Yoga poses can help decrease shoulder blade pain. The cat and cow stretch targets muscles around your shoulder blades and the middle of your back.

HOW TO DO IT:

Step 1

Get on your hands and knees. Position your hands underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips.

Step 2

Keeping your elbows straight, arch your back up as far as you can into the cat stretch. Drop your chin toward your chest. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds, then straighten your back.

Step 3

Let your belly sink toward the floor and look up toward the ceiling for the cow stretch. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds, then relax. Alternate the cat and cow stretches 5 to 10 times.

Read more: How to Relieve Upper Back Pain with Exercise

Foam rollers are lightweight and portable.
Foam rollers are lightweight and portable. Photo Credit Satyrenko/iStock/Getty Images

Foam Rolling

Foam rollers can be used to perform self-massage to muscles around your shoulder blades.

HOW TO DO IT:

Step 1

Sit on the floor and position the roller behind you, across your mid-back. Cross your arms over your chest or behind your head to support your neck. Bend your knees and put your feet on the floor.

Step 2

Lean back onto the roller. Press down through your heels and lift your hips off the ground.

Step 3

Keeping your feet planted, slowly roll up and down your upper back and shoulder blade area. If desired, pause for 30 to 60 seconds on particularly sore areas.

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