How to Stretch Shoulder Blade Muscles

Serving tennis ball after tennis ball, sitting at a computer for long hours or carrying around a heavy backpack can cause the rhomboids – the shoulder blade muscles located on your upper back – to become tight and painful. Shaped like a diamond, the rhomboids connect your spine to the shoulder blades and assist with arm and shoulder movement, especially when raising your arm over your head. Overusing the muscle can cause pain to form between the shoulder blades; stretching can help to release the rhomboids and alleviate the discomfort in your upper back.

A young man wearing athletic clothes is stretching his shoulders.
Credit: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Warm up with at least 10 minutes of light cardiovascular activity, such as jogging, jumping rope or cycling. Perform one set each of pushups and rows to activate your back muscles.

Step 2

Perform a seated stretch to release the rhomboids. Sit tall in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and knees stacked over ankles; the height of the chair should allow your knees to bend at a 90-degree angle. Bring your inner knees and inner ankles together to be touching. Cross your arms in front of your body and lean forward to lean your right elbow on your left knee and left elbow on the right knee; maintain a straight back. Keep the elbows in place as you separate the knees; stop moving your knees apart when you feel a stretch between your shoulder blades. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and release. Repeat for three rounds.

Step 3

Use a bar or railing to stretch your rhomboids. Stand facing a bar that is securely attached to a wall. Grasp the bar just below chest height with both hands, using an overhand grip and with thumbs touching. Position your feet to be about 1 to 2 inches in front of the bar, big toes touching. Keep your hands and feet in place as you extend your hips back, which will allow your shoulders to be pulled forward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.

Step 4

Stretch your arms forward in Child's pose to release the rhomboids. Kneel on the floor or a yoga mat with your big toes touching and knees separated by hip-width. Sit on your heels and lean your torso forward, resting it on your thighs or if possible, on the floor between your knees; place your forehead on the floor. Extend your arms over your head and place the palms on the floor; you should feel a stretch in your upper back and neck. Press into the palms to deepen the stretch. Hold Child's pose for one to three minutes.

Things You'll Need

  • Chair

  • Bar

  • Yoga mat


Release your rhomboids during your regular stretching sessions following your workouts, along with any time they have been stressed, such as after a tennis match or following computer use.


Consult with your physician regarding any pain in your rhomboids or back and before treating a pain or injury by yourself.

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