Exercises to Reduce Shoulder Blade Pain

Shoulder blade exercises, physical therapy, stretches: these are just some of the ways to alleviate shoulder blade pain.

Shoulder blade exercises, physical therapy, stretches: these are just some of the ways to alleviate shoulder blade pain. (Image: Caiaimage/Sam Edwards/Caiaimage/GettyImages)

Causes of Shoulder Blade Pain

There are a number of reasons why you might be experiencing shoulder blade pain. The National Institute of Health (NIH) lists some possible causes, including:

  • Dislocations
  • Separation
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Fracture
  • Arthritis

According to Better Health Channel, shoulder pain in younger people is often due to injury or an accident, whereas in older people, shoulder pain occurs as a result of natural bone deterioration.

Treating/Diagnosing Shoulder Pain

Better Health Channel explains that your doctor will diagnose your shoulder pain by asking about your medical history and conducting a physical examination. Other methods of diagnosing shoulder pain include x-rays, ultrasound and MRI.

Treatments may depend on the cause of the shoulder blade pain. Common treatments include physical therapy, in which a physical therapist assigns you shoulder stretches for pain.

Using heat and cold packs, as well as taking pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help lessen some of the pain and stiffness. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

It can take up to two weeks for shoulder pain to go away on its own. If it persists after a couple weeks, then it may be time to consult your doctor.

Exercises for Shoulder Blade Pain

Alberta Health Services recommends exercises for the shoulder blades. If you start to experience pain, do not continue performing the exercise.

Move 1: Triceps Stretch

  • Reach your hand up above your head.
  • With your arm raised, bend your arm at the elbow and reach down your back.
  • With the other hand push down on the bent elbow.
  • Hold for six seconds then repeat two to four times with each arm.

Move 2: Shoulder Blade Squeeze

  • Sit or stand with your arms by your sides and shoulders relaxed.
  • Pinch your shoulder blades together and hold for six seconds before releasing.
  • Repeat this movement eight to 12 times.

Move 3: Rowing

  • Secure an exercise band around an object and grip each end of the band in each hand.
  • Sitting or standing, hold your arms straight in front of you and stand at a distance where there's slight tension in the band.
  • Pull straight back in a rowing motion, so that elbows are at a 90 degree angle.

Move 4: Pull Downs

  • Secure your exercise band to the top of a closed door with a properly made exercise band doorway anchor.
  • Grip each end of the band while sitting or standing.
  • Lift your arms up, elbows straight.
  • While keeping your head straight and back upright, pull down and back bending at the elbows.
  • Stop where your hands are at the same level as your chin.
  • Repeat eight to 12 times.

Move 5: Chest T Stretch

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet planted on the floor.
  • Reach your arms to your sides in a T shape.
  • Stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds, then repeat two to four times.
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