You worked a little too hard during your last exercise session, and now you have a tight muscle in your armpit. Depending on the severity of the pain, you might be able to relieve the ache with an underarm stretch — but if it's really bad, you might need to see a doctor for professional guidance.
Relieve the pain of sore muscles with underarm stretches, such as a kneeling lat stretch or overhead triceps stretch. If you pulled a muscle, though, you may need to see a doctor.
Read more: How to Ease Sore Muscles After a Workout
Muscle Strain vs. Sore Muscles
It's normal to feel achy after a workout, especially if you increased the amount of weight you're lifting or did an extra set of lifts. Pushing the limits, within reason, is the key to building muscle. However, there's a difference between muscle soreness and muscle strains.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, muscle soreness occurs when you do a new exercise or do a familiar exercise harder than normal. The muscle has been stressed, but not significantly damaged, and stretches could help relieve the soreness. When the muscle is pushed too hard, though, it might be sore to move and touch and may swell.
If you're in significant pain, heard a popping sound in the muscle during a workout or have major swelling, you may have a more serious muscle strain, says Piedmont Healthcare. No exercise or stretching will help; you should see a doctor and treat it with rest, ice, compression, elevation and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Latissimus Dorsi Stretches
One of the muscles under your right arm is the latissimus dorsi muscle, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). An underarm stretch that ACE says can relieve a sore latissimus dorsi is the kneeling lat stretch.
- To start, kneel on the floor in front of a bench. Position your knees and feet hip-width apart and point your toes away from your body.
- Place your hands on the bench and, while exhaling, push your hips back until you feel a stretch in your side and back. Don't let your head drop toward the ground.
- Hold the stretch for 30 to 45 seconds and then release.
- Repeat two to four times.
You can do a similar stretch, the 90 lat stretch, while standing.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a table in front of you.
- Slightly bend your knees; then bend forward at the hip and place your hands on the table.
- Keep your arms straight and push your hips back as you feel a stretch in the lats.
During either the kneeling or standing stretch, you can increase the stretch by turning your palms up to face the ceiling.
Read more: Latissimus Dorsi Strains
Triceps Muscle Stretch
If it's not your latissimus dorsi muscle that's hurting under your arm, it could be your triceps, the muscle on the back of your arm. To stretch this muscle, try an overhead triceps stretch recommended by the American Council on Exercise:
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Roll your shoulders down and back and then raise your right arm to the ceiling.
- Drop your right hand down, so the palm is next to the middle of your upper back.
- Place your left hand just above the elbow of your right arm and push down slightly to deepen the stretch.
- Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and then release.
- Repeat the stretch two to four times, trying to deepen the stretch a little bit every time.
- If you're feeling a little achy on the other side of your body, repeat the stretch on the left side.
Is This an Emergency?
- American Council on Exercise: "Muscles That Move the Arm"
- Piedmont Healthcare: "How to Recover From a Pulled Muscle"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "'Good Pain' Versus 'Bad Pain' for Athletes"
- American Council on Exercise: "Kneeling Lat Stretch (With Bench)"
- American Council on Exercise: "Overhead Triceps Stretch"
- American Council on Exercise: "90 Lat Stretch"