This blog post will go through every exercise that will help address your Rhomboid muscle pain.
What is Rhomboid Muscle Pain?
Rhomboid muscle pain is experienced as a pain between the shoulder blade and spine.
It is generally due to a strain, spasm or muscle knot in the Rhomboid muscle.
(Also referred to as: Shoulder blade pain, Pain between the shoulder blades, Upper back pain.)
- Pain between the shoulder blade and spine
- Increased pain after sitting/standing for long periods
- Popping/clicking when moving shoulder blades
- Pain with deep breathing
- Impaired shoulder function
What causes Rhomboid Muscle pain?
One of the main causes of pain between the shoulder blades is bad posture (namely Rounded shoulders).
Having bad posture will tend to place the shoulder blade in an ineffective position to function optimally.
This can lead to the overloading of the muscles that control the scapula.
If you have bad posture, the Rhomboid Major/Minor (and the middle/lower trapezius) are forced to work harder as they attempt to pull the shoulder back.
This problem is amplified by the amount of time that you are sitting with that bad posture!
Exercises to fix Rhomboid Muscle Pain
Follow these 16 simple steps to finally get some Rhomboid muscle pain relief!
The 16 steps summary:
- Release the painful area
- Stretch between the shoulder blade
- Apply ice or Heat
- Perform shoulder circles
- Shoulder pumps
- Release tight muscles
- Stretch tight muscles
- Stretch thoracic spine
- Increase shoulder mobility
- Strengthen postural muscles
- Postural taping
- Trigger point release
- Avoid aggravating activities
- Fix your Posture!
- Other potential causes of pain
- Common questions
1. Release the painful area
Releasing the interscapular pain region will help ease the tension going through the Rhomboids.
(I recommend using a lacrosse massage ball as it has the right amount of firmness without being too uncomfortable to use.)
How do I relax my Rhomboid muscle?
- Place the massage ball at the site of the Rhomboid muscle pain.
- Apply as much of your body weight as comfortably tolerated on top of the massage ball.
- To increase the release, move your arm in a up/down motion. (see above)
- Target those painful areas!
- The more tight and/or overactive the muscle is, the more pain there will be. Don’t stop!
- Do not hold your breath. Relax.
- Continue for 3-5 minutes.
2. Stretch the Rhomboids
Muscles that are over active will tend to be the ones that hurt the most.
By stretching the overactive Rhomboid muscles, it will help them relax and result in a reduction in the pain between the shoulder blades.
- Grab a large exercise ball.
- Proceed to wrap your arms around the ball as far as you can.
- Hunch your upper back as much as possible as you push your hands away from you.
- Look down.
- Aim to feel a stretch in the region where you experience pain.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
READ THIS: Do NOT over stretch the Rhomboids!
(This may cause the muscle to become even weaker).
Aim to stretch it just enough so that there is a reduction in the pain between the shoulder blades.
3. Apply Ice or Heat
Applying ice will help numb the muscular pain.
If your pain is severe, consider placing an ice pack over the Rhomboid region for 5-10 minutes.
Applying heat will help relax the muscles in between the shoulder blades.
Consider taking a hot shower or applying a hot pack for at least 10 minutes.
Interested in fixing your posture?
.. then come join me on the Facebook page!
I share all of my best posture tips there.
4. Shoulder circles
This exercise will help warm up the painful muscles and encourage more blood to the target areas.
- Place your finger tips on your shoulders.
- Slowly (but firmly) draw large circles with your elbows in a backwards direction.
- Make sure to squeeze the muscles between your shoulder blades as firmly as you can.
- Try to contract the area where you experience pain.
- Keep the neck completely relaxed.
- Repeat 30 times.
5. Shoulder pumps
Similarly to shoulder circles, this exercise will help warm up your painful muscles.
- Place both hands (with elbows forward) on the sides of your head. (see Start position)
- Bring your elbows all the back. (see End position)
- Make sure to squeeze the muscles in between your shoulder blades as firmly as you can.
- Hold for 5 seconds.
- Repeat 30 times.
- Note: If you get a pinching pain in the shoulder, you may have Shoulder Impingement.
6. Release other tight muscles
There are other muscles that pull the shoulder blade out of the ideal alignment.
This will cause the Rhomboids to work excessively to pull it back into alignment. (… and thus leading to your pain)
Here’s an analogy: Think about the game of tug-of-war. As one side pulls harder, the other side is forced to work even harder to counter act the increased resistance.
By reducing the tension in these opposing tight muscles, it will reduce the over activity of the shoulder blade muscles.
a) Chest release
- Locate your Pec Major/Minor and Subclavius muscle.
- Use Google if you are unsure of the location.
- Place this area on top of a massage ball.
- Apply an appropriate amount of body weight onto the ball.
- Continue for 30 seconds.
b) Side release
- Locate the Serratus Anterior and Latissimus Dorsi muscle on the side of your rib cage.
- Use Google if you are unsure of their location.
- Place this area on top of a foam roller.
- Apply an appropriate amount of body weight onto the foam roller.
- Continue for 30 seconds.
7. Stretch tight muscles
a) Chest stretch
- Place both hands high up on a wall in front of you.
- Lean firmly into your hands.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down.
- You should feel a stretch at the front of your chest.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
b) Serratus Anterior stretch
- Lie down on your side.
- (bottom side will be targeted)
- Prop your upper body onto your forearm.
- Gentle pull your shoulder blades backwards.
- Whilst keeping your pelvis pinned to the ground, try to push your torso as up right as possible.
- Place more weight into your forearm as you sink into your grounded shoulder.
- Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your ribs.
- Take a deep breath into the area where you feel the stretch. (Push your ribs and belly out as much as you can!)
- Hold this position for 1 minute whilst taking deep breaths.
Note: Play around with the angle of your torso to get the correct stretch over the Serratus Anterior muscle.
c) Latissimus Dorsi stretch
- Assume the position above.
- Hold onto a door frame with your hand.
- Whilst anchoring your legs as shown, aim to bend your mid section as much as possible.
- Use your body weight to sink into the stretch
- Twist your pelvis away.
- Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your torso and under the armpit region.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
8. Stretch the thoracic spine
If your spine is used to being hunched forwards (Hunchback Posture), your shoulder blade is going to be placed in poor position.
Stretching the thoracic spine into extension will help place these shoulder blade muscles in a better position to function.
- Using a rolled up towel or foam roller, place it in the middle of your thoracic spine (see above).
- Whilst supporting your head with your hands behind your neck, roll your body weight onto the foam roller.
- Arch your thoracic area (upper back) backwards.
- Do not arch your lower back!
- Maintain this position for 1 minute.
For more exercises to loosen up the joints your thoracic spine, have a look at this post:
9. Promote shoulder mobility
If you lack full mobility of your shoulder joint, there will be compensatory changes in your posture.
If you lack internal rotation: The shoulder will naturally hitch upwards/forwards and may cause more strain to the muscles between the shoulder blades.
To check if you lack internal rotation:
- Lie down with your shoulder at 90/90 position. (see above)
- Drop your hand down towards the ground.
- Results: If your shoulder pops up before you reach 60-70 degrees of pure shoulder movement, then you lack internal rotation.
To increase the internal rotation of the shoulder:
- Place your hand as far up behind your back.
- Pull your shoulders backwards firmly.
- Lift your elbows towards the backwards direction.
- Hold for 60 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
- To progress this exercise: Do the same exercise whilst lying on your back.
10. Strengthen your scapula muscles
Strengthening the muscles that are responsible for optimal shoulder blade placement is vital in addressing Rhomboid muscle pain.
a) Wall angel
- Stand with your back to a wall.
- Keep your back and arms pulled backwards as to remain in contact with the wall throughout movements.
- Whilst remaining full contact with the wall, slide your arms up and down the wall.
- Repeat 10-20 times.
Note: If you can’t keep your whole arm on the wall, step your feet slightly away from the wall until you can.
b) Rhomboid strengthening on floor
- Lie on the floor facing downwards.
- Have your arms reached out over your head on the floor.
- Whilst keeping the abdominal region in contact with the floor, lift your arms up as high as possible.
- Aim to feel a firm contraction of the muscles between your shoulder blades.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times.
c) Incline shrugs
- Lie face down on an inclined bench.
- Whilst holding weights in both hands, slowly (and with control) lower your hands down towards the ground.
- Let your shoulder blades be pulled forwards.
- Pull the weight up by squeezing the muscles between your shoulder blades together.
- Keep your arms straight throughout this movement.
- Pause at the top of the movement for 5 seconds.
- It is important that you can FEEL the firm contraction in the muscles between the shoulder blades.
- Repeat 30 times.
11. Postural taping
Taping your shoulder position will help you maintain the right posture and prevent you from defaulting back to bad posture.
- Maintain a good posture by gently pulling your shoulders back into a neutral position.
- On the side of your pain, place the tape starting from collar bone and pull back and down to the middle of your thoracic spine.
- Make sure you place firm downward pressure when applying the tape.
- If you develop any itchiness, rashes or swelling from the tape, it may mean you are allergic to it.
- If this is the case, remove it as soon as possible.
- Keep it on for 1-2 days.
12. trigger points for Rhomboid Muscle pain
A trigger point is a part of the muscle where there is a significant amount of increased tension.
Having trigger points in certain muscles can refer pain between the shoulder blades.
What to do:
- Apply a firm pressure onto the trigger point.
- The aim is to find an area of tension.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
Here are the 3 main ones:
(I would recommend that you look up the exact location of these muscles on Google.)
b) Levator Scapula
See post: Levator Scapulae Stretches
13. Reduce exposure to aggravating activities
When are you experiencing your pain?
Whatever it may be:
- Either change it so that it doesn’t make your pain worse,
- or don’t do it at all!
A common time when people experience pain between the shoulder blades is when they are in front of a computer.
Make sure your workstation is helping you maintain a better posture!
14. Fix your Posture!
The following postural distortions will specifically influence the shoulder blade region:
a) Rounded shoulders
Rounded Shoulders places the shoulder blades in a position where the Rhomboids will constantly be active to counteract the forward pull of the shoulder.
Check out this post to fix your Rounded shoulders!
b) Scapula Winging
Check out this post to fix Scapula Winging.
c) Uneven shoulders
Check out this post to fix your Uneven shoulders.
d) Thoracic kyphosis
A hunched upper back can cause the shoulder blades to slouch forwards.
Check out this post to fix your Hunched back.
e) Twisted spine
If your spine is twisted to one side, it can force one of the shoulders to go too far forwards.
This can result in over activity of the shoulder blade muscles in the attempt to counter-rotate the twist in the spine.
Check out this post to fix your Twisted spine.
15. Other possible reasons for the pain
a) Referred pain from the Cervical and/or Thoracic spine
Issues originating in the Cervical and Thoracic spine can refer pain to the shoulder blade region.
By addressing these areas, the pain between the shoulder blades is more likely to resolve.
Obtain a scan to these areas if you suspect this might be the case.
b) Strain to the Erector Spinae muscles
The Spinalis, Longissimus and Iliocostalis muscles are situated underneath the Rhomboid muscles and are often involved with strains.
I find that this is particularly true if you are have a twisted spine.
c) Dorsal Scapular Nerve issues
If the pain tends to present as burning and/or tingling between the shoulder blade and spine, this may suggest neurological involvement of the Dorsal Scapular Nerve.
The Dorsal Scapular nerve originates in the neck and travels downwards to attach to the Rhomboids.
This nerve tends to be overstretched in those who have depressed shoulders and can lead to nerve pain in the Rhomboid region.
If you feel that this is your issue, I would suggest that you correct the position of your shoulder blades.
Generally speaking – you will likely need to hold your shoulder blades in a slightly more elevated position.
d) Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is the compression/irritation of the nerves that pass between the neck and shoulder.
This issue can often refer pain between the shoulder blades.
e) Injuries to the ribs
Any trauma to the back of the ribs (namely ribs 2-7) can present as pain between the shoulder blades.
If you suspect a rib injury, please visit your doctor and ask for a X-ray straight away.
16. Common questions:
1. How long will it take to fix the pain between the shoulder blades?
It will take as long as it takes.
(There are no overnight fixes here, unfortunately!)
Persist with the recommended steps mentioned in this blog post over the next 4-6 weeks.
It has likely taken a long time for the Rhomboid Muscle Pain to develop, so it is going to take some time and effort to get rid of it as well.
It is better to fix this problem now rather than letting it become a bigger problem in the future.
2. Why do I have Pain between shoulder blades when breathing?
As you take a breath in (especially with a deep breath), this will cause the rib cage to expand.
As your muscles lay flat on the rib cage, the rib cage expansion will stretch the muscles between your shoulder blades.
If the Rhomboids are strained/tight, it can cause upper back pain when breathing.
3. Why do I Have Rhomboid muscle pain while sleeping?
This is most likely due to the side sleeping position.
This position can place the scapula in a sub-optimal position which can increase tension on the Rhomboids.
If you need to sleep on your side, make sure to use pillows to support the weight of your arms. (see above)
The goal with this is to minimize the forward position of the shoulder.
What to do next
1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)
2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!
3. Start doing the exercises!
468 thoughts on “How To Fix Rhomboid Muscle Pain”
Hey thanks for all the great information! this is the most info i’ve found anywhere on thoracic/mid upper back issues. My issues is pain on my left side between the shoulder blades in the rhomboid area. Im a construction worker so its super depressing that I cant escape the pain. It seems to be very tender in a few spots on the muscles, and they get aggravated by over head work and when I’m on my knees leaned forward doing flooring. Also sometimes I get a tingly sensation in the area that feels like a nerve issue. So I’m not sure if it’s a nerve/spine issue or a muscle issue, or both. I’m getting chiropractic and doing stretches and working out. but i feel hopeless, I’m stuck in a line of work that keeps me suffering. anyways thats for the information, if you have any suggestions please, I’m all ears.
If it’s purely a rhomboid issue, the steps mentioned in this blog post should help quite a bit.
However – if you have persisted with the said exercises and still experiencing a lot of symptoms in the area between the shoulder blade and spine, I would suspect that perhaps the structure generating your pain might not actually be the rhomboids.
Keep in mind – the erector spinae muscles also run through this region and can cause issues in many people. The erector spinae muscles generally cause issue in people who have a tilted and/or rotated spine. Has your chiropractor assessed for this? Addressing the asymmetry in the spine might help with your symptoms.
See post: Twisted Spine and Scoliosis Exercises.
You mentioned tingling in this region. This could be related to an issue with the Dorsal Scapular Nerve. This may be related to tilting of the thoracic spine.
I’ve had chronic issues for years. It’s only in my right side. I can’t figure out if it’s the spinea erector of the rhom.
It’s almost like it’s trapped under the bottom corner of my shoulder blade. It’s a burning pain almost like I would expect from a nerve pinch.
I’m going to to try this great list of information. However, does that sound like a rhom problem?
If you keep your torso and head still whilst protracting your shoulders as much as you can, does it reproduce your symptoms? If so – this may suggest a rhomboid issue.
If it is your erector spinae muscle (thoracic region), try hunching your back forwards plus looking down towards the opposite armpit plus tilting your torso away from the side of pain plus keeping the shoulders slightly retracted, this may suggest an erector spinae muscle issue. For stretches: Upper back Stretches.
I have a habit of turning to the left and pressing my shoulders to sleep
rhomboid muscle pain for over 5 years.
I found out after taking X-rays
As a result
My left scapula = scalar downword rotation syndrome
The thoracic vertebrae are left-sided scoliosis
My left shoulder is higher
I think the body is rotating clockwise
And left romboid muscle, left pectoralis minor
It feels shortened.
I’m curious about the correlation between the
rhomboid muscle and the scoliosis
I don’t know if it’s because the rhomboid muscle are short?
Or is it because of the thoracic vertebrae scoliosis?
I don’t know what’s the root cause
I am taking a guess here, but is it possible that your torso is rotated towards the right and the left scapula is trying to compensate by pulling back. This is usually due to tight erector spinae muscles around the lumbar/lower thoracic region. This position can lead to chronic tension in the LEFT region between the shoulder blade and spine.
If this is the case, I would recommend you having a read of this blog post: How to Address a Twisted Spine to see if that applies to you.
I think that’s right
When I turn my body to the left, it feels stiff
I’ve had pain in my left side for over 4 years now. Whenever I move my left arm I feel and hear loud clicking and popping all around my left rhomboid, trapezius, scapula, shoulder area. Everyday the tension and irritation is unbearable. I have knots everywhere. No matter what I do, they just don’t go. At this point I’m actually convinced they are not knots. It feels like fluid. I’ve tried everything. Drs, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors. I’ve been consistent with my weight training, my stretches, physio exercises. I just never ever get relief. I get repeatedly pushed back by Drs and Physios telling me there’s nothing wrong but I can’t live like this anymore. Everyday is a battle and I feel like it’s starting to kill me now. I’m a healthy 32 year old male. I’ve been like this since I was about 27-28. Up until recently I was very healthy. Weight training. Running 10k almost every day. Football. I can’t fight through the pain anymore. I just don’t know what to do. No matter what I do. If I’m sitting down, lying in bed. It’s excruciating. I’m tired. I don’t want to live like this.
Cracking as you move the scapula is like snapping scapula syndrome. This is usually due to the scapula sitting in a depressed and forwards position.
This can develop “knots” in the area between your shoulder blade and spine. If there is a lot of irritation, it can even leading swelling/fluid in the area.
If you have tried direct treatment to the area and not getting anywhere in terms of symptom reduction, I would suggest you need to find out the exact cause of why there is excess load going through the left shoulder blade.
As stated before, it is common to see a depressed/forward shoulder that makes noise when you rotate your shoulders backwards. If this is the case – I would suggest performing shrugging with retraction movements. Try to squeeze the “knots” for as long and hard (and as comfortable) as you can.
If it just your left shoulder that is the issue, I suspect your spine is likely not centered and perhaps have a bit of side bend (aka scoliosis). See post: Scoliosis Exercises. This posture can place more pressure on the left side.
I had the same thing years ago. I got a similar run around with PT and Drs telling me it was in my head. I finally went to a specialist who referred me to a chronic pain clinic for prolotherapy. They inject you with I believe sugar water to cause and inflammation and trigger your bodies own healing. They injected me at different points each time and I had to wait 6 months between injections. The Dr at the clinic said he could get me 90% better. I have had no pain for 14 plus years. I strongly recommend trying this. Good luck!
Did you ever find a cure for this? Did these exercises help? I have the same problem, going on 3 years now. Just keeps getting worse.
I am experiencing a pain directly underneath the shoulder blade. This pain only appears after standing for long hours volunteering and working concessions at football games. Pain starts to occur after about 2 to 3 hours. We are typically at the game 6 to 8 hours. When I get home and apply a heat pad the pain goes away. Please help.
I believe most of the exercises mentioned on this blog post should help you.
Ultimately – you will likely need to address your standing posture. I suspect it is how your shoulder girdle is hanging onto your rib cage.
But definitely try these exercises first and perhaps even exercises for rounded shoulders.
I just wanted to post a thank you note since this is by far the most comprehensive list of stretches and strengthening solutions I have found which target this area. This pain is very acute and I suspect something in my karate or BJJ class stressed the rhomboid region. Do you have any posts on the benefits of warming up? I’m always de-prioritizing warming up and stretching as if I was still in my early twenties, I’m 42:). I’ve had this pain before and I’m usually miserable for a few days but by the time my training days (for karate or BJJ) roll around it has calmed down enough to train and although I can’t say for sure since it has been a while, it seems like the training warms it up and works it out to where it expedites the recovery. I suspect this is a delicate balance since I imagine it could be made worse if overtraining is the culprit. Anyway, thank you again for your site. You are doing God’s work, my friend.
Glad to hear that you like the blog post!
I don’t have any specific blog posts on warm ups but they are definitely important to do before your work outs. Warm ups essentially prepare your muscles to increased loads.
On top of the exercises mentioned in this blog post, I would also encourage to check if you have Rounded Shoulders as this is a common problem that can lead to issues in this region.
I second this! I have bookmarked this article and plan to utilize these exercises to address my chronic shoulder and neck pain. Thank you for creating this. Like OP stated, I have never seen such a comprehensive list before.
Thanks for comment! Let me know if you have any questions.
When dealing with a rhomboid issue – is this typically a muscle that someone can feel tightness in?
I’m dealing with what I can only assume is a strained rhomboid – and often I can ‘feel’ if a muscle needs to be rolled out or whatever.
With this, the pain just seems very deep in there.
It is certainly a muscle that people can feel tightness in.
This is usually due to over-activity of the muscle.
Other muscles that can cause pain in this area include middle trapezius and erector spinae.
If you have Rounded shoulder, I would start with that.
If the tension is mainly on one side, I would think you probably have a twisted torso. In that case, see post: Twisted Spine Exercises
I picked up my quite heavy son yesterday (120 lbs) while we were fooling around yesterday and put him on my right shoulder. While he was on my shoulder, i felt a pain near my shoulder blade and immediately put him down. Its been a couple hours, and now that area really hurts and my mobility has greatly been decreased. What is happening and is there anything I can do?
It is hard to say exactly what structure has been involved with your injury without a proper assessment.
However – since the injury is very fresh, the general guideline would be to apply ice to calm any excessive inflammation, switch to heat 24-48 hours after the onset of the pain, perform very gentle and pain-free shoulder blade rolls, make sure you have full pain-free neck movements.
Once the initial pain has reduced, you can start to try some of the exercise mentioned on the blog post. If any doubts, I would suggest that you get an assessment from a professional to make sure it is not anything serious.
Hi I switched from a very old chair that reclined too far back and was lower than the ideal height to a brand new one with appropriate height for my desk and good upright support. I went from constantly being slouched forward or reclined too backward to being able to sit upright. The problem is that my mid back seems to hurt now. I do my best to keep my chest up and shoulder blades back but it still hurts. I am wondering if this is because I went from poor posture to a decent one and now my body is adjusting, or if there’s something wrong with my setup. Going back to my old chair and reclining back with my lower back and shoulders rounded actually makes me feel better though.
Assuming that your work station ergonomics is correct, the pain between the shoulder blades may be due to engaging muscles that you aren’t used to.
If this is the case, gradual exposure to the new posture will eventually allow the muscles to adapt/get stronger. And become pain -free.
Hello. I enjoyed your article very much!! But am scared to start the exercises as of right now.
Three weeks ago I had a trial spinal stimulator put in (my Dr put the leads in my upper middle back for issues with my neck), two weeks ago it was taken out. And right away I noticed I was pretty sore especially when I put my chin to my chest. Three days after the leads were taken out I slipped but caught myself on the front side of the couch from totally falling. That night I noticed some more pain. And then over the next few days I started having severe extreme pain under my shoulder blade. I went to er and all they told me was I didn’t have a broken shoulder blade (from X-ray) and I tore the muscle under my shoulder blade. Now the only time the pain is either gone or bearable is when I’m on a heating pad. (And I’m on pain meds that don’t do much).
Do you think something got messed up, some nerves got screwed up from when the stimulator leads were taken out?
It is very possible that certain structures in the area may have been irritated from the procedure.
Keep in mind – skin can also cause quite a bit of pain following any invasive surgery.
It is not that common to tear the muscles around this area. Xray scans will not be able to tell you the quality of the soft tissue.
If in doubt – it is best to talk to your doctor before commencing the exercises.
For past 3 yrs, I’ve been suffering with nocturnal left upper back/shoulder blade pain that always occur if I sleep or lay in a supine position for more than 1hr. It feels like a sharp stabbing pain that will wake me up from sleep if I end up sleeping on my back. I can only get about 5-6hrs of sleep when lying laterally on my left side with a pillow behind my back for support and usually wake up with my left ribs feeling achy but is transient and resolves in less than a minute. I’ve seen two MDs, PT, acupuncture and chiropractor but no resolution. I’m 45 yo female, BMI is 22, practice pilates on a reformer about 1 hr a day for 5-6 days a week. I recently started using the ball to release muscle tightness in my shoulders and upper back but still have this nocturnal back pain. I consider myself pretty fit for my age but can’t seem to figure out why I’m having this type of pain that only occurs when I’m resting in a supine position. I’m very impressed with your website and hope you can share any knowledge you have to help me have a restful night sleep that I have missed for the past 3 years.
Sounds like whatever is causing your pain is position -related.
Lie supine on the floor. See if your left and right side have the exact same contact points and amount of pressure.
Is it equal?
I’ve had shoulder pain for a long time and now and your exercises have helped me quite a bit.
But recently, I noticed my arms starting to feel a bit weaker/numb. Probably because I spend so much time at the computer now since I work from home. I feels like someone is stuck in my elbow whenever I extend my arms but I’m pretty sure it’s my shoulders causing the pain.
Do you know what muscles might be causing this and how I can exercise these muscles?
Great to hear the exercises have helped you.
In regards to the numbness/weakness: these sound like neurological symptoms which may suggest some sort of irritation is occurring in the nerves. ( could be from the neck or the actual path way of the nerve in the arm)
Check out this post: Pinched nerve in the neck to see if that relates to you.
I have shoulder blade pain and I noticed a spot that was really tight. Its in the area connecting my shoulder blades to my arm (edge of my shoulders) which is also directly opposite my pecs. Due to the tightness there, sometimes my arms feel a bit numb. I’m not sure what this area is called or what muscles are there though
Do you have any recommended stretches for there?
It sounds like you are referring to your rotator cuff (or perhaps even posterior deltoid, teres minor, triceps). There is quite a few muscles there!
I tend to see a lot of people who injure this area also have rounded shoulders. (Check out this blog post: How to fix rounded shoulders)
Hi Mark, I have a pain in the muscle right next to my right shoudler blade and the pain somehow linked to my right tricep and forearm esp when I’m driving or using the mouse on my computer. What can I do?
The most common issues would be:
1) Posterior line of the arm. This essentially is a group of muscles that start from the back of the neck, the back of the shoulder blade, to back of arm (triceps), to top of forearm (where people get “tennis elbow”), to the back of the hand/fingers. Check to see if you have Rounded shoulders. Placing the shoulder girdle in a better position may help with the other areas.
How to fix Rounded shoulders.
2) Pinched nerve. Compression of the nerve in the neck region can cause referred pain down the arm. On top of pain, you might get tingling and numbness.
If you feel this relates to you, check out this post:
Exercises for a pinch nerve.
All the best!
This seems like it’s going to be very helpful. I’ll be starting these exercises today. Since purchasing a new mattress, my right shoulder blade has been on fire!! I know why. I’m sleeping hunched on my right side. I’m not normally a side sleeper. We bought a new mattress because while sleeping on my stomach, which I normally do, our soft mattress was giving me lower back pain. Though the now former mattress hurts my shoulder blade and neck. I know I need to practice sleeping on my back! Hope this helps release the pain. It literally feels hot and on fire when picking up my little man!
It sounds like your right shoulder is not used to the side sleeping position (esp if it is getting squashed)
Just be careful sleeping on the side on FIRM mattress as this can push into the shoulder quite a bit.
hey mark iv been having posterior shoulder pain like near my rear delt that kinda leads down the tricep brachii area high up. its not sharp it feels like tender and tendinitis almost. so far iv rolled out my scapula muscles and my serratus is tenderish so idk if its a result of weak serratus and poor scapula control but yeah its specifically pain tenderness in the rear delt tricep area near where it would connect into the lat
This is commonly due to the teres minor muscle.
But it could also be posterior deltoid, triceps, infraspinatus, posterior capsule.
do you recommend any post you have made that could help with this
Hey Mark, I have shoulder blade pain and neck pain. I’m wondering: what position should I sleep in? Right now I sleep on my back with a pillow under my legs but I’m always very sore when I wake up..
If you have tried all different positions and you still wake up very painful, you might need to consider changing pillows or mattress.
I suddenly had the pain between the spine/right shoulder blade about 1.5 year ago and have been unable to pinpoint the issue although sitting at a desk for 8 hours and then looking down at phone once home appear to be primary suspects. The pain now affects both the left and right sides and I also have chronic neck pain. Also recently began getting neck kinks with more frequency. I’ve been to chiro, PT, and had xrays conducted on neck and back with no findings. Is this issue muscular and do you think acupuncture would help at all? If not, what primary excercises would you recommend?
Acupuncture can help relax over-active muscles. It’s not enough to completely fix the issue is most cases.
Do you have a forward head posture? This could explain your neck pain and pain between the shoulder blades.
Blog post: How to fix Forward Head Posture.
I have this pain is same like yours. I was at different doctor at least three time but its same pain. If u learn how to cure this please let me know.
There was a snap sound in my left scapula when I was doing a pushup and trying to raise my body… From that day forth.. Its been years.. And I have pain in my between my left scapula and the spine. It extends upto my left shoulder.
I feel pain in my left shoulder when I try to lift some thing over head.
I subconsciously feel like they must be another pop inside me in the opposite force for the scapula to get fixed in the correct position.
Also the left scapula region hurts when I try to push my shoulders to the wall.
I have visited so many doctors.. The xray says everything is fine.. But this pain is ever ending..
Im a computer science engineer by profession.
Could u please diagnose me..?!
Im tired of thispain.
Also there is a pop sound every single time I raise my shoulders upward.
Thank you so much, literally the first stretch I tried released shoulder pain that has been agonizing for 1 month. After a few movements of my arm over the ball I felt my shoulder “pop” back into place and had instant relief. Cannot believe this simple stretch has released so much pain the several trips to the chiropractor could not! Love these stretches and will be continuing to follow you from now on!
That is awesome to hear!
Make sure to follow me on facbook too!
Hey Mark! One day after a back workout and a lot of walking with a backpack on me I woke up with a very sore point at the point of the shoulder blade and traps. It was radiating through my whole right arm with a strange feeling in my pink finger. Since then I had pain for more than 6 weeks and slowly it faded away. I like to workout and sometimes it came back when training shoulder/traps. For a few months it was gone, until I started to train my shoulder properly again it came back ?. So now I am stuck with the same pain again for 2 months! This must be something more serious than just an overused muscle or not?! The doctor only told me in the beginning during the first phase of pain that I should take it easy… Can you please tell me if this sounds more serious to you or if I should really take a longer break working out my upper body?
When you mention the pinky finger, a few things pop up to mind automatically:
– C8 nerve issue
If the C8 nerve gets pinched in the neck, it can refer pain to the pinky region.
– Thoracic outlet syndrome
This can be caused by wearing a heavy back pain the pulls your shoulder downwards. In this position – the nerve from your neck can be pinched and send pain in the areas you described. I would advise you to get assessed by a health provider if you suspect this is the case.
– Referred pain from Lats
As you mentioned you work out your back, the lats may have developed some trigger points that referred down the arm to the pinky.
– Referred pain from pecs
As you mentioned wearing a back pain, it is possible that you were over using the pecs. This can potentially (perhaps less likely) refer pain down.
Depending on what the diagnosis is will dictate what kind of treatment you should do.
Hope this helps.
I swear this article along with this specific comment was written just for me to find. I had so many unanswered questions before reading all of this… my doctors weren’t even this thorough in their failed attempts to answer (or evade) my questions.
So thank you so much!!!
I love it when people feel like the blog is talking specifically to them!
Hopefully some of the stuff here can help you out!
hi, if i think my c8 is pinched should i follow this page? Is there another page that would help with that?
You would need to follow another set of exercises to address a C8 nerve pinch.
This is what I would suggest you do:
1. upper limb nerve glides/stretches.
2. Lateral flexion stretch AWAY from the side of pain.
3. Correct Forward head posture
Is there anything on this page that would be harmful to a c8 nerve pinch?
Possibly the lateral flexion towards the side of issue.
Hi mark i am suffering from same pain through out day i cant move free my neck and the time when i getting up from bed the pain becom worst taking 2 .3 mints get up . Plz solve
Hey There. I discovered your blog the usage of msn.
This is an extremely smartly written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and come back
to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return.
Nice article. I am 60 and was in IT field. I have shoulder pain (which radiates in ribs and right hand) for last couple of years while walking or bending forward while doing some work. If pain occurs while walking (every 15-20 minutes), I just wait, stretch and relax my body. The pain then stops and I can again walk for 15-20 minutes.
I do some of the above stretching exercises. Kindly advice further.
What kind of tape do you use for the suggestion to tape your shoulder? very helpful article
Rigid tape if you want to hold the shoulder in place. (good for when you are in acute pain)
K-tape if you want minimal support. (good for when you are training your postural muscles)
Probably four to six weeks before I started feeling pain in my (left side) rhomboid I noticed in some pictures I had a slight rounding of my shoulders so at the gym I started doing face pulls to help my posture but I also work in a shipping department so I drive using my left arm everyday . So when the pain started I stopped going to the gym to give my body rest for two to three weeks but the pain was still there went back to doing face pulls included in my work out and it seem to make it worse. I haven’t tried your exercises yet but will start today. Thanks for any feedback
Hi mark. So my both scapulas are not held in place and causing shoulders pain. Do you think tightness is causing the issue. I mean my back doesn’t hurt. So tight muscles be the reason of the scapula problems?
Tightness could be the issue.
If not tightness, my next guess would be weakness.
Ive been doing shoulder circles, Y exercises for lower traps on incline bench my Left mid trap and lower traps hurts like crazy even after i release it eceryday should i go on?
If the pain is due to working out the muscle, you might want to give it a couple of days to recover, then hit it again at a strong intensity.
I have been having neck pain for a couple months now. Sharp pain will radiate from the top muscle on the left side of my neck and run down my left arm to my fingers. I have also been feeling a sharp pinching on my left shoulder blade close to my back. This also goes down my left arm. Sometimes it is a dull, tingling and numb pain. I mostly feel it when I’ve been walking a while or after running. I try to get massages regularly but the pain comes back after 2 weeks. Any ideas?
I would get a CT/MRI scan to your neck to check for any issues with your C6 or C7 nerve.
I have been having pain in between my shoulder blade and spine, near the top of the shoulder blade, only on the right side. It isn’t constant but it will be bursts of somewhat sharp pain. It generally happens at work when I am on my computer. Not so much at night and not so much when I am walking, mainly sitting.
Does the sharp, inconsistent pain sound like a muscle injury? When I press my back against a door or corner, the right is definitely harder and more tight than the left side. I’m going to start your exercises TONIGHT!
It does sound muscular.
If it is, it should respond fairly quickly to these exercises.
If not – you might need further investigations.
Thanks so much Mark for sharing these exercises. I felt immediate pain relief after doing the exercises. The two exercises that help the most where the ball roll on the shoulder blade and the side rib cage roll.
Great to hear, Simon!
Keep up with it and you’ll soon be rid of your shoulder blade pain.
Hi mark, I hove hip hike on the left and down on right, I am in search for trainer than can help me to address this issue….
Hi! Thank you so much for this article- very helpful. So…I broke my clavicle about two years ago and the doctors never put it back in place or put me in a figure eight bandage..instead I was just in a sling and so the clavicle never settled back into position and ofcourse then I had a shoulder mobility issue for quite some time. Working on shoulder mobility with a physiotherapist who kept pushing the shoulder, I would feel strain in my shoulder blade because obviously I think it was taking all the load. So now my scapula always hurts. I visited the States and saw a sports masseuse for a college track and field team and he identified the same issue- tightened scapula, which needed a massage to get better. I dont have those kind of services where I live, but I am wondering what all I can do to improve the situation on my own. Squatting hurts, even bicep curls hurt. Everything hurts because my shoulder blade is under strain. Help..!?
It really depends what is happening with the scapula.
Generally speaking, you will want to make sure you have good control of your scapula. I recommend doing “Scapula CARs” (Youtube).
Make sure you have full range of motion in your shoulder joint as well.
If you have issues with rounded shoulders, I would suggest that you have a look at this post.
Thank you so much Mark, this info looks great and everything is described clearly. It is time for me to start doing something about my shoulder blade pain and bad posture. Got your page bookmarked!
Thanks for the comment, Francine.
Best of luck to you!
thank you soo much I think I will get better because of you my question is I have pain in my right back shoulder all the way to my triceps and actually the pain start from my nick to my upper right chest no only right back shoulder and triceps now 3 months I couldn’t go to the GYM I’m only resting and eating pills
hello , this is an amazing piece of information. Especially the trigger points info is so useful. I always have right shoulder blade pain. The shoulder blade is usually so painful that after a certain point i start feeling numbness in the area. when i ask someone to massage for me , they have to usually use thier highest strength and only then i feel relieved.
Thanks for the comment!
Hope you can fix your shoulder blade pain!
Mark, great info. I look forward to trying all these stretches. Quick question, my pain is left shoulder blade area when I look down and to the right. What do you think the actual injury is? Im an avid golfer and its really annoying. I can feel my body wont let me swing at full speed …
If you look down to the right armpit and you get a left shoulder blade pain, my first thought would be that your levator scapula muscle is tight.
I’ve come across the page after having scapula pain since working with a personal trainer 2 years ago. I trained through it for 6 months and it got so much worse
I had physio for a few months which got rid of the pain
However whenever I do any exercise the pain comes right back. I’ve tried yoga, Pilates, swimming, lifting. Basically anything that involves using my shoulder
What would you suggest I do?
It’s likely due to how you are using your shoulder when you are exercising.
Do you have rounded shoulders? This might be a good place to start.
Good info….I started having pain by my left shoulder blade in May after a long MN winter with a LOT of sitting, slouching, and reading n bed. I’m 6’4″ and my wife is 5’2″ so my posture is bad from years of sitting in cars not fit to me. I wake up with pain across my upper back but the shoulder blade pain gets worse when I sit. Also, I get some tingling/numbness in my arms and hands (what causes this). I work out a lot with weights but with summer I do more outside activity so my back muscles may have diminished and I’m sure being 60 doesn’t help. Would you recommend following your exercise regimen as outlined for this issue. Thanks!
Sounds like you will benefit from these exercises.
I would also recommend you check out this post:
How to fix Rounded shoulders.
… and see if it relates to you.
All the best!
I have this issue on the right side of my back – my upper back always feels tense and when I move my arm my shoulder cracks/pops, every single time. I find when my husband gives me a massage it feels much better the next day – but my shoulder still makes awful sounds. Also I feel this slight tingle burn down my arm. Any ideas??
Is it your actual shoulder joint that is making that pop noise, or is it the shoulder blade?
If you feel a bit better from a massage directly to the area, it is more likely that it is the muscles that is causing the pain.
Pins and needles down the arm sounds like a nerve impingement, however, if it is more of a burning sensations, it may also be muscular referred pain down the arm.
A good place to start will be the exercises mentioned in the blog post, but I think you would need to look at the over all picture with your posture to see what is the root cause.
Great Information to know . Thanks for sharing the stretches. I’ll bookmark this to use with my massage clients Thankyou! ?
Hey Mark, your exercises are very helpful.
Do you have any exercises for the neck? I also suffer from neck pain in addition to shoulder pain
I have some here:
Also – check out this one too (it might relate to you): Forward head posture correctionForward head posture
Thanks Mark for the suggestions! I need to stick to releases at this point. Unfortunately any type strengthening on my levator scapulae causes neck stiffness and pain in my neck. Even if I just do a few shoulder shrugs or external/ internal rotations I am in pain the next day. Any thoughts why that could be?
Do you have rounded shoulders as well? This could create more pain after doing shrugs.
I’ve been having pain in my right shoulder blade for 2 years. Im very active including surfing, rock climbing, biking and running. I think it’s my levator scapulae because I’ll sometimes get really bad neck pain and dizzyness. at work I have two screens and was turning my neck to look at one then the other. Also, my right shoulder blade is lower and longer then my left. I did your rounded shoulders workout and that really helped my posture but the pain in my shoulder blade/ neck is still there. Would you suggest these exercises for the pain I’m describing? I also saw you have one on neck pain.
Thanks so much! Your exercises and blogs are super helpful!
The exercises here should help with the pain between the shoulder blades.
If it is your levator scapula causing the neck and shoulder issue, you will need to address that muscle specifically.
With a low sitting shoulder (depressed), it is likely the levator scapula is over active in an overstretched position.
If this is the case:
– Start with releases of the lev scap..
– Strengthen it by doing a)shoulders rolls in a backwards direction, b) shoulder dislocation exercises with resistance band, c) shrugs.
– Figure out what the shoulder blade is lower. It could be the spine that is side bending or the actual shoulder blade is lower.
– ergonomic assessment of your work place.
Ps. I also have a blog post about uneven shoulders coming out soon! That should help balance out your shoulders.
Hi, I work a lot at my computer and have neck and back pain. I did your exercise for shoulder blade pain using a tennis ball and lifting arm up to relieve pain on shoulder blade area.
It was very sore and when I lifted my arm up and back I got a searing burning feeling in my left breast. It felt like a tearing sensation.
I stopped lifting my arm and just applied pressure to the shoulder blade instead.
It’s been 2 days now and I feel achy still in my left breast. No sharp pain just a dull achy kind of feeling. Have I injured myself do you think?
Thank you kindly
You might have placed pressure on one of the ribs.
As the ribs wrap around to the front of the chest, this may explain your left breast pain.
Give it a few more days rest, this should settle the symptoms.
You might need to either go a bit softer with the release, or focus on the other exercises for the time being.
If it is a rib issue, you might need to see a practitioner to get that assessed more specifically.
Wishing you a speed recovery!
Thank you, yes I will ease off for a bit!
Thanks for getting back to me, its appreciated.
Let me know how it goes!
I’ve been having burning pain behind my shoulder blade for 2 months. Went to chiro and he said I have 3 ribs out. I’ve gotten several treatments but it’s taking forever to get better and I still get pains, burning and pulling sensations! What can I do to speed up healing?!
If the ribs are the main causes of your shoulder blade, you will need to get them in a more optimal position.
The chiropractor should be able to help you with this.
The exercises mentioned on this blog post are mainly for shoulder blade pain caused by muscles.
Hi,Mark!Could you please give a piece of advice regarding my situation because I’ve become quite desperate at this point since nobody seems to be able to help me.So my pain appeared around 8 month ago-it’s located right in between my right shoulder blade and my spine.It mostly bothers me in the mornings right after I wake up(the whole right side of my back is extremely stiff and painful)and after staying in the same position for a prolonged period of time,especially sitting. Then it radiates to my shoulder and down to mid back.I’ve had an MRI done a month ago and the only thing they found was the slight degeneration throughout my spine and a small 3mm bulge in my lower back.I also have rounded shoulders and a slight scoliosis.I’ve already tried osteopath, laser treatment,dry needling and all possible pills and nothing seems to help.I’m 26.What would be your recommendations in this case?Thank you.
On top of spending some time doing the exercises mentioned in the blog post, I would look at those positions/activities that are aggravating your symptoms.
(Sleeping: Try different sleeping positions, mattresses, pillows etc)
(Sitting: Sit on a supportive chair, take frequent breaks, sitting posture etc)
If it is still giving you issues, the next step would be to look at your posture as a whole.
Rounded shoulders are a common contributor to pain in this region. Another one being scoliosis (this rotates and tilts the torso which can place more pressure on the muscles between the shoulder blade and spine)
Here are some links for you:
– Rounded shoulders
– Scoliosis exercises
– Winged scapula
Best of luck!
Hey Mark, I am Philipp from Germany and I really like your blog very much. You put out great content and I appreciate that a lot. I wonder if you know about ‘SLAP ‘ problems, i.e. glenoid labrum lesion. I have such a problem on my right shoulder after an injury in the gym (using too much weight for dumbbell shoulder press). An MRI image does not show clear results, only that the labrum glenoidal anterius and the supsapularis tendon seem to be diffusely thickened.
Would be so cool if you could cover this topic in one of your upcoming blog posts!
Could the SLAP issue relate to shoulder plate instability ?
Injuries to the labrum can result in shoulder instability.
You would still want to rehab as you would with any other shoulder injury (reduce pain, regain movement, engage muscles, improve function)
Perhaps check out this post to see if these exercises help.
In October for a week I had painacrros the top of my back like tension feeling on the Friday I woke up to not being able to turn my neck if I did turn my neck the pain was awful and would hurt my shoulder.. I went to the doctors an they have me about anti inflammatory tablets.. they took the pain away from the neck but in still in pain with my shoulder /shoulder blade… if i’ve slept on it it’s worst but it feels like I need someone to pull my arm and also massage the shoulder and ßhoulder blade area… sometime when chopping or stiring things makes it go heavy and dead feeling with in a couple of seconds..
Hey Mark! Thank you so much for these.
I’ve been experiencing an issue with Pain behind my shoulder blade and along the left side of ribs sometimes feeling the tension on left pec as well. I thought at first it was an issue with my heart and did multiple doctor visits and have confirmed it is not my heart and definitely muskosceletal. It’s such a strange pain, almost like a pressure. Definitely seems worse after sitting for a long period or sleeping.
Rarely I’ll wake up and the tops of my shoulders are sore, and side of neck. But have been visiting chiropractor and that has seemed to help.. I’m really just worried about shoulder blade and the rib tension I feel on left side directly under armpit
Are there certain stretches/strengthing you’d recommend for that? I’m 31 yo/male
Thank you so much!!
There are quite a few structures in the arm pit region.
The #1 muscle I would check is the Serratus anterior which is commonly tight in people with pain between the shoulder blades.
Try releasing and stretch directly to this area to see if it helps!
Hi Mark. I’m definitely going to try some of these exercises. But first I need to let you know what’s going on so I do the right ones. It’s been about 6 months now and I cannot lay on my back or on my left side. There’s a pressure under my left shoulder blade and the pain continues to increase the longer I lay down to the point where I sleep only on my right side. I do not sleep well. Please let me know what to do. Thank you.
hi mark thanks for this information and exercise… i have same problem but my question is whenever i press joint bone between ulna and humerus i feel pain nd also pressing forearm it also hurts ..pain from shoulder blade to hand but i can easily do exercise but still pain is there..need ur help
The gap between the ulnar and humerus bone is where the ULNAR nerve runs through.
You might have some irritation in that area.
It usually gets symptomatic if you keep your elbows in a max bent position.
I recently found your exercises and they seem to be pretty helpful. I’d like to ask if you have any recommended stretches/exercises for stiff neck/neck pain as well as for dealing with sciatica as I also suffer from these.
For neck exercises:
Forward head posture
Neck strengthening exercises
I don’t have a blog post specifically about this.
But you will need to find where exactly the nerve is getting pinched to cause the sciatica down your leg in order to find a good exercise.
In the meantime, any movement that does not make your symptoms worse will only make it better.
Hey genius, i wish if you could help i have thorctic scoliois and the concave side is facing the right side if ur looking from behind, and thats where there is severe pain in the inner scapula region, the left side i have super tight trap and chest, very bad posture also i cant stand upright, i am 22 and i am at a stage of giving up everything, i tried every single dr therapist sport rehab you name it.
Please help if possible, i can offer anything as you really is a talented smart insvidual
Thanks for calling me a genius. Makes me feel smart :)
If your main issue is a THORACIC SCOLIOSIS with a C curve to the right side, I would check out this blog post:
Hi mark , i’ve Been having a really bad shoulder blade pain and in the mornings when I wake up that’s the worst , doctors ruled out heart condition , they treated me for gas but I was a bit iffy because i’ve Been having this since last year what exercise would help me in this case
If the pain is coming from the muscles in the area, give the exercises on the blog post a try. It should help out!
I had rotator cuff surgery in Oct 2015 on my right shoulder. I have been having a lot of tension/tightness pretty much on my right side from my neck down to my ankle. With a lot of trigger points/knots to where I feel like I have been beaten I am so sore. Recently my right shoulder blade has has a constant dull deep throbbing pain that has been very painful. I went to the ortho dr and they did xray and said it was coming from the rotator cuff and sent me to PT with pain meds, steroids and inflammation pills. I have completed the steroids, still in PT and taking the mobic but the pain is still there. It has eased up but at times it is unbearable. Do you think this is muscular or a possible tear?
I usually find that the pain between the shoulder blades is of muscular origin.
From what I’ve seen, it’s not too common to tear the muscles in this area.
If you have rounded shoulders, I would consider addressing that too (View post: How to fix Rounded shoulders)
Keep in mind – scans to the shoulder will find “bursitis” and “supraspinatus tendinitis” all of time. It doesn’t always mean it is the cause of your problems.
I have been with shoulder blade pain for maybe 2 years now? Many of the suggestions here I had found before, but it’s great to find all in one compilation. Some of them I have actually never tried, so I will try to do all at once and see how it goes.
One problem I usually face is that I need to work on the computer every day, so even when I’m with unbearable pain, I have to force myself to ignoring it day after day. Which usually reduces my efficiency, and makes me move all the time in my chair trying to find less painful positions. I noticed that I always have this feeling like I want to stab under my shoulder blades with something pointy. I also noticed that it feels much better when I can manage to keep my elbows above shoulder level (I do that by keeping my hands behind my head as much as I can while working).
Thanks for the guide!
See how you go with the exercises :)
Your presentation is sounding like a muscle is the culprit of your pain. This is good news! The exercises should be able to help with that.
After giving a deeper look into your website, I must say I’m impressed. I also appreciate how fast you manage to reply the comments! I have a question that maybe others might have as well. I have the following scenario:
2)Shoulderblade pain (worst part)
3)Winged Scapula (I can put my fingers under them)
4)A slight scoliosis
Is there a specific guide I should follow first? I feel overwhelmed by all the possible things to do.
Btw, I will definitely contribute with a donation if I finally get some results with your guides.
I pride myself on replying every comment :) Thanks for noticing!
It’s really common to have a range of different postural deviations and can understandably be overwhelming.
The general rule I tell people is that there is no wrong area to start off with.
Pick one area. Stick to the exercises for a set period of time. Try to get the most out of the exercises. Once you feel that you’ve improved as much as you can, move onto your next area.
In your case – if shoulder blade pain is the worst, go with that first :)
All the best!
I have shoulder blade pain and my arms tend to go a bit numb when I stretch them out (I think it might have a pinched nerve also) . I’m trying to strengthen my shoulder muscles at the gym, are there any good workout/exercises for that?
Your exercises are very helpful but they usually are temporary relief unfortunately.
There are plenty of exercises that you could do to strengthen your shoulders.
Depending on your presentation and what your body needs, some exercises may be more beneficial for you.
But in terms of a general shoulder workout, here are some suggestions:
– Lateral raise
– Bent over raise
– Horizontal abduction
– External rotations
I’ve had shoulder blade pain (both sides) for the past 6 months due to a slipped disc that came from bad posture. I do these exercises multiple times everyday and they seem to help ease the pain a lot for a few hours. However, my pain always comes back after I wake up so I think my sleeping posture is exacerbating my condition.
Any tips on what position I should sleep on and how to elevate myself properly with things like pillows? Currently I sleep on my back.
You can try sleeping with your arms over your head so that your shoulders are in a retracted position.
Also – make sure you have a good mattress!
For more information, check out this post: Best sleeping position.
My shoulder blades tend to jut out a lot especially when I’m sleeping which puts a lot of pressure on it and makes me wake up sore so I will try sleeping with my arms over my head, hopefully that works
I see you’ve answered a ton of questions already, but I’d be grateful if you could answer one more :) I’ve had pain exactly where it is in that first picture (as many have said) and it’s a constant tightness. Never-ending pulling and whenever I turn my head down to the left I feel it being pulled, if I put my shoulders forward I feel it being pulled, and it hurts a lot. However, it seems like the stretches that I try never stretch that exact spot. The other areas also don’t seem to be stretching the way I think they should. What’s the most effective way of targeting that? Because the pain has now radiated along my entire right side of my back towards my shoulder and I now have new pain in the collarbone area that makes my shoulder feel like it’s grinding. It’s incredibly painful and I don’t know what to do. It just seems like the pain and tightness is slowly making my way across my entire back. Would appreciate any input, thank you very much!
In most cases with pain between the shoulder blade, the muscles in the region are actually already over stretched. You don’t really want to stretch an already stretched out muscle. ( a little bit is okay)
You might need to focus on releasing it with a massage ball to help reduce the tension in the area, then more importantly, follow it up with exercises that contract the muscles between the shoulder blade.
It is possible for pain to spread if there is a lot of tension going through the muscle. (keep in mind, tension will increase as the muscle gets stretched even further)
Hi Mark, Iv just came across you, will be trying this. I have Hypermobility with very tight hamstring I can put my feet behind my head, and my knee can bend out of range but not backwards (can put my foot in front of pelvis,knee bend sideways I guess.) problem is now I have all over body pain all the time. I have a dropped shoulder and tilted and twisted pelvis since infancy, I don’t know how it began. I’m now finding I can not move my neck to the right like I can on left (left side can rest my head on shoulder,right side I can’t move it very far to the right anymore,feels like it’s being prevented from moving) my DRis not taking it very seriously and will not refer me on. Pain is unbearable most of the day, I have 3 small children I really Finding the pain hard to manage. I’m 31.
very helpful…if getting the video which will be more effective
Thanks for the suggestion!
I agree a video would be great it would get lots of hits because people would watch it over and over again and you can make some money on YouTube that way as well !
I got moderate pain below my shoulder blade after waking up in morning before couple of weeks.
I have come across your website today and I will start following your exercise.
Can I lift weights in gym while having this pain?
If lifting in the gym does not directly make your pain worse, I would say it is fine to continue with the exercises.
Just be careful though!
Thank you, Mark, for this informative web site. I seem prone to adhesive capsulitis. Several years ago I had a frozen right shoulder, with all the classic symptoms and phases. I treated it with physical therapy and today it’s entirely healed. But no sooner had it “thawed” than my left hip began to hurt and lose passive range of motion. I know hips are not supposed to get adhesive capsulitis, but the symptoms and their course replicated exactly the problem I had with my right shoulder. Again, I treated it with physical therapy and, after two years, it seems completely healed. Six months ago, however, my left shoulder began to hurt and lose a little mobility. Here we go again! I’ve been self-treating it with the exercises I learned before, and it has not advanced as far as my other shoulder did (at least not yet). I’m writing you because I’ve had an ache between my should blades for three weeks now. How likely is it that the two problems are related? I’m 51.
The shoulder and hip function together in many movements and activities.
When one joint isn’t working optimally, the other one will tend to compensate for it. As a result, you can get this transfer of stress/pain.
Is there a particular movement that you are having issues with?
Also – do you have diabetes, metabolic issues and/or thyroid issues?
My shoulder hurts with internal rotation and extension. I’m not aware of any diabetes, metabolic issues, or thyroid issues. So you you think the shoulder pain and the interscapular pain could be connected?
Issues with rotation are usually affected when the joint capsule gets tight/inflamed.
The shoulder pain and interscapular pain could definitely be related.
Hello, how often would you suggest doing these 14 steps? Each step one by one once per day?
I would probably start every 2-3 days to begin with.
See how your body responds.
Then increase/decrease frequency depending on how you are feeling.
I am 67 years old and just found your site. I have had “carpal tunnel” (that is what the neurologist called it) since I was in elementary school. His diagnosis 5 years ago was to “live with it”. I have tried some exercises but to no avail. I also have had some back pain for about a year. I tried only 3 of your exercises and found them very helpful for my back pain and also for my carpal tunnel. Thank you so very much.
Movement is medicine!
Hi Mark so i was doing chest workout of the 21 of December and after the workout i found a severe pain in my upper rib between the chest and it has been this way ever since. Also always had muscle stiffness in my under my left shoulder blade, like the scalene muscle picture says after i neck got stuck last year. But on the 1st January my life changed i had pain in my left chest and left arm to my fingers, thougt i was getting a Heart attack , went to the doctors got an ecg and nothing was wrong I’m btw 20years old. After the doctor appointment nothing got better still found pain and a had panic attack thinking i was getting a heart attack . I find hard to bend my left neck. I went to a chiropractor and he thought what i had a scalene syndrome. I do stretches for it and it seems to work but i still have a lot of pain and my chest is still tender after the workout that i had on the 21st December. Get alot of Muscle twitching aswell and my right jaw has also been pretty hard to open for 23days. What to think is wrong with me? Just to stressed or?
It could be a scalene trigger point.
If this is what is causing your symptoms, releasing the scalene muscles should help reduce your symptoms.
Hi there mark, was wondering if you can give me a good direction to go. Been dealing with left back shoulder blade pain for a couple months now, my left blade for sure sticks out a good bit further than my right. I’m coming back from a left foot collapsed foot arch back in june. Started to get a pain in the left side of neck when swallowing along with the shoulder pain. Have had 2 endoscopes of my throat and cervical spine mri, both ok. I’m 36 by the way if that matters. I do have forward head posture also. I’ve been doing a bunch of posture excersizes for a few weeks and icing my back left shoulder and using a massage back on my back also make me feel better. I’m also a side sleeper but stopped sleeping on my left side the last month, and trying to sleep on my back and right side only. Any ideas on a place to start or what might tie all 3 together, left shoulder, neck pain and pain when swallowing. Thanks so much, I also feel good when lying down on my back
Sounds like you might have some scapular winging in the left shoulder blade.
Have a look at this post: Winged scapula
Where exactly is your pain in the shoulder blade region and in the neck?
There’s a muscle called the Omohyoid that connects to the side of the neck and to the shoulder blade.
Have a quick google search on that muscle to see if that is where your pain is.
Let me know!
This is super helpful. I get this exact kind of pain ever since I switched desks at work and this is exactly what I needed.
So I’ve found due to my combination of hyperlordosis and sensitivity to head forward posture (in other words, just a bit of it drastically worsens my pain), seats in newer cars are extremely painful because they tend to push my neck forward and the lumbar support prevents me from using the back rest anyway, and in the past year or so, airline seat changes where they have these head or neck rests that stick way out have posed a similar issue. There are plenty of lumbar support cushions and neck pillows that rely on a flat surface behind you, but have you found anything that can build up the back of a chair with excessive lumbar support and/or excessive head rests? This is an image of the seat to see what I am talking about:
Car seats are the worst for posture! You are absolutely right.
I believe they are designed like this to:
1) Cater for the ever growing number of people with bad posture
2) Reduce whiplash injury during car accidents.
I haven’t seen any specific car pillows that you can insert. In my car, I just had to raise the head rest a bit higher so that it didn’t push my head so far forward.
Let me know if you find something though!
Been carrying this trap to shoulder pain for 5 days now, i think got it from my workout last monday doing incline bicep curls. And i applied heat (hot compress) every night cant get it better tho, so i searched around the internet for a stretches or exercises for it and i think yours is the best, jus a quick question, should i do all the exercise listed? Or just try pick a few? And till when? And if i only have to do it for the shoulder thats experiencing muscle pain? Or both?
I think mine falls in the levator scapula pain chart. Specially if i raise my shoulder over my head the pain suddenly moves from traps to near neck.
Hopefully you could help me with this :)
Advance thank you!
I would start with all of them to get an idea of how your body responds to the exercises.
From here – you can focus on the ones that you feel that you get the most benefit from.
It is fine to focus on the side of pain.
I have this pain which my chiro is stated yesterday after seeing her that it is related to a Shoulder blade spasm! i have had lower back pain recently and also have been doing posture exercises! all back pain went away after several weeks of exorcises and 4 week holiday from office work…. but then few days of pain free and I get this pin pointed pain in my shoulder blade that radiates down my arm and my front left chest wall aches when pressed! pain radiates to arms, hand and also sciatic on left side… I thought it would be a pinched nerve but chiro states spasm…. there is a point on my shoulder blade that when pressed is very very painful! any tips pls?
Hi Mark, I have pain when I lay flat on May back. It seems that I can’t lay completely flat. Why
Do you have a Hyperlordosis?
Check this post: How to fix a Hyperlordosis (Arched back)
hi mark! let me start off by thanking you for creating this great website! it has already helped me immeasurably.
ill start by briefly explaining my situation: im 25 years old and ive been sitting for the majority of my life, especially the last 5 years or so. i had also never spared much thought on how to sit and dismissed any advice on the matter from adults as “stuff old people say to go on your nerves”. Naturally, this resulted in me developing worse and worse posture. The part of this ive been aware of the longest is a tilted anterior pelvic. I first noticed this more than 10 years ago (but neither knew that it directly resulted from my bad sitting posture, nor took it very seriously). around 2 or 3 years ago i started developing pain, first in the neck, then the whole upper spine, and around my shoulder blades. at first the pain disappeared after i moved around a little. it became more and more frequent and eventually i couldnt get rid of the pain at all anymore.
around a year ago i found your site and found out i had actually developed a whole bunch of postural problems: an anterior pelvic tilt, forward neck, rounded upper back, rounded shoulders. i also found your post about winged scapulas recently and im fairly sure i have those too. with the help of your site and some diligence i managed to relieve a lot of the pain and i can see and feel that my posture improved a lot. so great thanks again for that! but i have a couple of questions:
– do you recommend to focus on one area with the corresponding excercise routine you shared, or would it be better to alternate between the different routines and try to tackle everything at once?
– i found a recommendation of how often to do the routine in some of your posts, but assuming that its good to mix up the routines, how often should you excercise? is there such a thing as overtraining when it comes to the postural muscles or is more generally better with these routines?
– a lot of your routines utilize “wall planking” in the strengthening section. but the descriptions of the excercises vary slightly as far as i understand. for example, the way its described in the rounded shoulders post, i thought i was supposed to feel a contraction in the romboids, around and between my shoulder blades. in the winged scapula post the wall plank is included as an excercise for the serratus anterior, so im assuming im supposed to feel the contraction at the sides of my ribcage. are those different excercises altogether or did i misunderstand something?
sorry for the long post, any reply is greatly appreciated!
Thanks the for questions.
– I would focus on one area at a time. This way you can get the most out of the exercises (otherwise you are spreading yourself to thinly.
– More the merrier I say (as long as your body is able to handle it). Some exercises will require more rest than others. The best way to go about it is to see how your body responds, and adjust accordingly.
– With the plank, you want to feel the rhomboids AND the serratus anterior at the same time (and in balance with each other)
I have pain not under my shoulder blade, but right alongside it, in between the edge of the shoulder blade and the spine, just like the first picture you have at the top of your article. It’s my left side and is extremely painful when I lay on it for longer than 5 minutes which not only makes sleeping hard, but common things like going to the dentist or laying by the pool. I’ve had this pain for years now. My doctor doesn’t seem too concerned about it, but lately that area can sometimes feel numb even when I haven’t been laying on it. It doesn’t bother me when I’m not laying down. Do you have any advice? Thanks in advance.
I would start by trying out the exercises.
If the main pain is when you are lying down, it sounds like the pain is provoked by the position you are in.
In this case (and on top of the exercises), try to experiment with your arm positions as you lie down (eg. above your head, out to the side, hands behind your head) to see how it responds.
Hey Mark, I have been getting weird pain under both of my scapulae( especially under the right one) for the last month. This pain occurs when i extend my arms horizontally forward, have them squeezed to my hips when sitting or when I excercise ( especially when doing Dips – vertical pushups on parallel bars). I found that when I perform this previously mentioned excercise my left shoulder is higher then the right one and my right shoulder rolls forward. To fix this I started doing routines to fix rounded shoulders and scapula winging , but it doesnt seem to work. Could you help me out ? Thanks in advance.
If the exercises didn’t seem to work, you might need to look at other areas that might be placing more stress through the shoulder blade region.
Looking at your posture and movement as a whole is the key.
Which areas do you specifically mean ? i found out that i have tight pecs and i am working on improving it. I also have a tight right trap, and by stretching my right pec i am able to untighten it. Could this be the problem ?
I have pain in my left shoulder blade. feels like the inside of my left shoulder blade and also sharp pain in my forearm as well. the pain is much less or goes away if i’m sitting down and my legs are laid straight on an ottoman. Pain comes back if I stand up or sitting down on a solid chair or while driving. Sometimes pain keeps up every night for the past 18 days .It’s a constant sharp pain behind left shoulder blade and my forearm, I don’t have any weakness or tingling in my arm or hand, sometimes pain radiate into my triceps. Meloxicam and Muscle relaxants are not helping for 18 days now.
any suggestions ?
Sometimes issues in the neck/shoulder region can refer pain down the arm.
If you do not get relief from the steps mentioned in the blog post, I would make sure you rule the more sinister health problems involving the heart, nerves etc.
Thank you for all your insights. Do you have any experience with crepitus under the shoulder blade. I did have several rotator cuff tears on the same side (right). About 3 years ago, I had corrective surgery. My MRI at that time also indicated scapular bursitis. I’ve had months of PT and exercise regularly including strength training and yoga. But no matter how much I strengthen the shoulder and stretch, the crepitus under the shoulder blade remains a constant source of discomfort. Any thoughts? Thank you!
I find this is usually do to:
1) The insertion points of your middle traps/rhomboid. Esp. in Rounded shoulders, these tendons become fairly ELONGATED. As a result, they can develop these “chunky and flicky” bits as you move your shoulder blade around.
2) Your shoulder blade bone grinding against your ribs.
Either way, you need to optimise the position of your shoulder blade!
I injured my supraspinatus a few years ago with sharp pain in back corner of the left shoulder and since that pain went away now I have pain between my shoulder blades on the left side of the spine. Also the left shoulder blade cracks alot gliding on the left side. I have been trying to do your exercises daily for about a month. Any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks for all the great information!
If pain is persisting after performing steps 1-13, then the issue may be step number 14 (postural correction).
Hello sir i injured my right shoulder and right scapula during a fight can i eliminate pain by this excercises how many days we must do these excercises
Hi sir…I am from Taminadu.I got a severe pain in my left shoulder blade.Can this exercise help me for cure?Have this problem frm past 10 days.I cant lift down on left side of head.
If they pain is from the muscle between the shoulder blades, you should find these exercises are quite helpful.
If in doubt, check with the doctor!
Hello, I recently bought a new ergonomic chair and the when I sit on it, only my left shoulder blade ( it feels like its being stretched kind of pain on the bottom part of the blade) hurts. Can you help me figure out/ understand (what is going on) if the chair is the cause or is it because of the reasons listed in this article. Also why not my right side ? Thank you. I will be trying your exercises.
If your pain only started after using the new chair (and no other new factors were introduced), then it is likely the chair is contributing to your left shoulder blade pain.
You can test this out by using your old chair and see if it makes any difference. If there is a difference, then the chair itself, or how it interacts relative to the table, may be the culprit.
If pain remains the same, it’s likely the muscles are strained.
Pain in the LOWER region of the shoulder blade may suggest that your left shoulder girdle may be elevating/protracting/upward rotating. The exercises mentioned in the blog post will be perfect for this.
Hey, thanks for the article! I’ve been experiencing pain in the exact area you marked in the picture of this post for 6 months. But I only feel pain it in my right shoulder blade when I retract my shoulder blades strongly. However, The pain gets worse after I workout but only for some time, the next day it is as usual. Do you think your excerises will help? And how should I workout, I really dont want to stop completely?
At very least, the exercise will reduce the intensity of the pain.
To completely eliminate it, you will need to find the root cause of the pain between your shoulder blades.
Here are some resources for you:
– Rounded shoulders
– Winged scapula
Hi mark…I am from Srinagar Jammu and Kashmir India .I am suffering from pain in between my shoulder blades.And some times i suffer lower back pains.Can u please suggest me some exercises
Hi Afshan from Kashmir,
The exercises mentioned in the post are what I would start off with.
Check out this post too: How to fix Rounded shoulders. It might relate to you too as well!
Month ago got a sb pain while drying my hair, i could feel the stretch n some sound due to sudden jerk.. till now the pain dnt gt better… suggest!
N u r doin a grt job… kudos!
Hi Mark, fantastic page here. Its extremely helpful for me.
May I ask for some advice?
Around 4 months ago, I was getting pain in my front left pec area, after thinking it was just a muscle pain, I rested a while, but still it did not go away. After 4 weeks I visited a GP here in England and he has since referred me to a muscular skeletal specialist. Still waiting to be seen :( the GP believes its a pinched nerve stemming from by back.
Cut a long story short, the pain has now moved from my pec area to my scapular area near my shoulder blade in my back (dull ache pain) the above exercises appear to be helping (a week in now). I am a very active guy, do a lot a swimming cycling and running most days. During exercise I can barely feel any pain which is telling me this is not muscle related perhaps?
Once again thank you for this page!
It’s hard to say exactly what your issue is without assessing you personally.
It is more likely to be a nerve issue if there are also neurological symptoms such as tingling, numbness and/or muscle weakness. If the GP believes a nerve is involved, perhaps are neurologist would be more beneficial.
If your pain tends to disappear with exercise, this may indicate it may be more so of a postural problem. Postural problems tend to worsen with prolonged time in the same position.
Some times the anterior scalene can refer pain to the chest, shoulder blade +/- down the arm.
Appreciate you reply Mark. Thank you.
Good blog on shoulder pain and stretches. However some people keep getting shoulder pain between their shoulder blades with only temporary relief from massages and stretches I would say see a chiropractor then. Sometimes as people age their cervical spine area anywhere from C1 -C7 start narrowing and create pain by pushing on the nerve where you feel the pain between the shoulder blades. It hurts like hell. Get an x-ray from your chiro and see . Hope this helps somebody!
Hi Mark, I was wondering if you are familiar with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or connective tissue disorders? I have classical Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and I was wondering what exercises I can do from this post to help with my shoulder and back pain. I have very bad posture because EDS causes all my connective tissues to be stretchy so nothing is really keeping my joints in place. I have to avoid stretching because it will make it worse, are any of these safe? I have craniocervical instability as well and winged scapula comes and goes. I get a lot of muscle spasms from subluxated joints and neuropathic pain from dislocations (shoulder joint). Is there anything you can recommend?
I find that the best way to address EDS is to improve strength, endurance and stability of all the muscles.
You might want to start with isometric contraction. This involves tensing your muscles without actually moving.
In terms of what exercise, it really depends on what you are trying to address.
For pain between the shoulder blades, you can focus on any exercise which strengthens the rhomboids/middle trapezius region such as these ones (section 4: strengthening)
I have had bi-lateral scapula pain for years. I have very rounded shoulders and tight pecs. Everyday I have knots around the shoulderblades. It’s usually the medial border and sometimes the bottom. Scapular mobilitiy is an issue. I cant lift anything above me or I have pain the the T4 area. I also have pain in the axilla area and sometimes rib pain. Anytime I try to exercise this area, I am met with more pain because it’s already flared up. Can you make any suggestions.
Have a look at this post: Rounded shoulders. This should help out! Given the irritability of your symptoms, you should go very gentle and gradually ease into the exercises. Everything should comfortable.
So glad I’ve found your website! I’ve been to physio and had suction cups and had several massages and done stretches. However it only helps temporarily, both of my shoulder blades are always tight. I lift weights and am dairy farmer so i do have a very demanding lifestyle. I’ve had this pain for about 8 months now.. it sometimes can cause pain all the way down my spine. My massage lady said it may be my sciatica nerve but i never get pain in my legs. Any advice you have would be appreciated. I’m sick of living with this pain and I’m only 23 :(
Check out this post: How to fix Rounded shoulders.
(I think it might be helpful for any pain between the shoulder blades)
Is there a particular area where it hurts? You can draw it on a diagram and I’ll have a look.
I have been getting horrible shoulder blade pain for years. Finally I realized that every time I get the pain within a few days I come down with something. It’s my warning sign that I am going to be sick. It’s always, always correct. I am experiencing horrible pain right now with any movement at all, but am certain It’s from my old sagging mattress this time. I hope I’m right.
THANK you, Mark, for this WONDERFUL post!! I had been in excruciating right shoulder pain for weeks before finding your site. After doing these exercises, my pain is gone. GONE!! You are so knowledgeable, and also so kind for sharing with us all like this. Words cannot express my gratitude!
My Absolute pleasure :)
This post comes like a blessing to me! was suffering from shoulder pain due to long time sitting and working on laptop.
This really is good.
Thanks for your comment, Arpita.
thank you, thank you, thank you. literally trying this at my desk right now. shoulder blade feeling better already.
Awesome to hear, Sharita!
This is a great guide- thank you!
Thanks for dropping by, Lindsay.
Recently I’ve been having right shoulder blade pain. I slouch my back when watching videos on my phone during school, and I also lean when I’m drawing on my computer screen and it’s been getting worse and more frequent overtime. I tried out your exercises and it seems to be something of a muscular problem. Are there things you can recommend me for this problem?
If it is muscular in origin, these exercises will work a treat.
I would also recommend checking out this post: How to fix Rounded shoulders.
I have been having left shoulder pain for quite a while. It started when I was on my bed in the upright position and my back pressed onto two pillows and usually now if I’m on my bed for over more than 45 minutes I get this bad pain in my left shoulder and it doesn’t go away unless I stand up and walk it off it has been happening for a while now and it is starting to hurt in the shower when I take hot showers it starts to hurt. Can you please tell me what to do I’m really getting worried about it. Is it my posture that is the problem?
HOLY SHIT !
I am ecstatic to have found your website!! I google searched “my scapula gets strained easily” to find you & boy am I stoked!! I was starting to feel hopeless for it is a new pain that has come up in the last 2 months in my life. I started going to a chiropractor, and it has helped but Im not getting detailed steps to take severe action as I do on your amazing website. I finally started feeling improvements with my chiropractor after week 3 and decided to cut down my visit to once a week but the pain has come back! By going to a chiropractor im glad ive at least realized my mediocre posture could be the cause of my compensated scapula pains, but it is expensive and I find the visits to be brief and impersonal. Anyways, Im happy to have found you! I am ready to take action! Thank you for shining the path to power the individual!! Finding this website has made me happy, relieved and inspired! Also how active, engaged and passionate you are makes me happy! Keep up the excellent vibes ::) I will update as I incorporate these practices in my future, thank you!
I love your comment.
Thank you so much :)
Hi Mark, really interesting article you have here and I can’t wait to try these exercises to relive my pain.
I’m Diorissa, and I’m just 23 but I recently went to an ortho and he said I have poor posture but has mild scoliosis only. I used to be a hardcore dancer during my high school years, enjoyed going to the gym during college, and now working in a office job. Given those various backgrounds I think it led me to different “abnormalities” in my upper body movement.
1. It started from my hips popping in high school and I didn’t mind since it’s not painful
2. In college I experience shoulder popping on both sides, still didn’t tmind since no pain
3. Ever since I started working on a desk job, Ive been experiencing more shoulder popping, and now neck popping, my left shoulder feels so hard that whenever I stretch my arms away I could feel some sharp nerves near the area getting involved, I could say it’s not yet that painful but I know it’s not normal, also when I stretch my left shoulder down I could feel a tight stretch that’s uncomfortable, only on my left shoulder, butmy right shoulder then failed when I tried the internal rotation test.
I know 23 is still a young age but I feel like I have a body of an old aging lady :( Hope you could give me some insights on what I should do to get better, I’ve tried consulting with an ortho (just told me I have poor posture), rehab doctor (who gave me therapy that I didn’t see it working, though I only went there once a week so maybe tm it’s not that effective) , and chiropractor (who gave me adjustments and myotherapy, but way too expensive per session). Hope I could get some insights from you, cus I really don’t want to live my life with limited movements when I grow older :(
Great article and exercise and stretching advice. Just some background, I am 49 years old and a side sleeper. About two weeks back, I started to feel some pain by my right shoulder blade and the odd thing is that when I am walking or standing there is not pain…if I am sitting down with a pillow behind my back there is not pain but when I sit down in my car to drive that’s when I feel the pain the most and no matter what position I have no arm while driving there is a pain in the shoulder blade and it sometimes feels like it moves to my lats and also the tricep area. Now, I don’t have any pain in the shoulders themsleves nor do I have any kind of weakness in the area either meaning there is no pain in the shoulder when I lift my arms out like a cross, out in front of my body or straight up. When I sleep I don’t feel the pain either and as I said, its only when I am sitting down in the car to drive and sometimes when I sit at the dinner table to eat but that doesn’t hurt as much if at all. I went to the doctor and he seems to feel its muscular and that my spine is fine and I had a check up a few weeks back before the pain started with the usual blood work and I am fine and in good health.
Are there any specific points around the back of the shoulder that are very sensitive when you poke into them?
It could be muscular in origin by the sounds of it.
If you like – you can draw on a picture of a shoulder exactly where you feel the pain and then I’ll see if I can determine which muscle is involved.
I’m not great with the anatomy but looking at a picture of the back I would say it’s roughly the small rhomboid. The strang part is that if you touch the area, it isn’t painful. But when I do feel the discomfort while driving or sitting down and then try and massaging the area that’s roughly the area I feel it. As I said, it shoots to the lat ans tricep
So I took a look at the pic you have at the top of this article looking at the right of the picture, the pain seems to be at the top “x” and the red dot that is between the top “x” and the middle “x.” The god news is that it seems muscular and not anything worse but it may take a few weeks to get better. Doctor feels it’s from sleeping on my side and that I may need to get a new mattress and I have to say it’s a firm mattress to boot. Hopefully it’s nothing worse than a muscle strain or a touch of tendinitis in the shoulder.
The area you have describe is usually 1 of these structures:
– Middle trapezius
– Rib issue
Other potential cause could be trigger point referral. You can check if this is the case by pressing on the ‘X’ and seeing if it reproduces your symptoms.
– Scalenes muscles
– Serratus posterior superior
The exercises on the blog post should help either way!
Also -If the mattress was the main issue, I feel you would feel more pain during sleep or first thing when you wake up.
I have a torn rotator cuff and the orthopedist insisted that sirgery would help my shpulder blade pain, but after two surgeries, the ladt one nine years ago, it has only gotten worse. It must have to dowith how I hold my shoulder to compensate or the tear because when I was in a sling, it didn’t hurt. Do you agree? I can’t do allof your exercises because of the tear but the tape seems to help though it does make the actual rotator cuff feel worse and make he side of my neck hurt. I have literally tied everything and pain pills are the only thing that bring partial relief. I know that’s not the answer. Do you have an opinion on rotator cuff tears and shoulder blade pain? Thanks so much for your response.
It’s hard to give exact recommendations but I would have a look at these posts:
– Rounded shoulders:
People with rotator cuff tears will usually compensate with the shoulder blade position, which in turn, can cause pain between the shoulder blades.
– Shoulder impingement
It is fairly common to have some sort of shoulder impingement in conjunction with rotator cuff tears.
I just suddenly developed pain in my left upper back with kind of a pinching feeling in my shoulder. It’s brought on by tilting my head to the left the most. I can’t figure out what happened. I’ve tried stretching and applying heat. The pain is kind of on my left shoulder blade area or lower traps or shoulder joint. It’s hard to pin point
Have you tried stretching towards the RIGHT side to open up the left side?
Usually if you tilt your head to the left and it hurts on the left, then something is getting squashed.
After doing these exercises twice in a few days, (I realise you say to do it every day) what I think is my rhomboideus minor muscle starts to feel very stiff and it hurts when I carry my backpack to lectures. Also, I feel it sort of clicking when I moving my arms and shoulders occasionally.
I was wondering whether I should take the exercises more easy? Say spend 20 seconds instead of thirty and do less repetitions?
You can ease into it and see how you go with that. Sometimes it takes time for the body to get used to the new exercises.
However – if pain persists or gets worse, you will need to get that checked out.
Thank you Mark for the Brilliant narration of the symptoms and remedies.
I had a history of upper cross syndrome left side due to poor posture.
This time around the symptoms are confined to my right arm, with severe restriction of internal rotation. I can barely reach my lumbar region and restricted lifting of the arm above the shoulder. (symptoms started with poor sleeping position). Would appreciate if you suggest the appropriate remedy.
Definitely work on your shoulder internal rotation:
– Don’t forget to strengthen internal rotation at the end ranges as well.
Stretch out anterior capsule:
Restrictions in lifting the arm above the shoulder can be caused by many factors so it is a bit hard to tell you what exercises to do for this.
Thank you Mark, i will give it a try and provide my feedback .
Have a great weekend. Cheers
I have been working at a computer desk for over 15 years. I have terrible right shoulder blade, and neck pain. I got big knots under my shoulder blades, and on the side of my neck. I have constant pain, especially after seating long periods. Would you have any suggestions for me.
Hey Mark, thanks for putting this article out there!
I’m a 23 y/o software developer and have been having shoulder pain for a little over a year that has also moved into my neck. It seems like these exercises are a good place to start, but I wanted to mention a specific symptom that neither your article or any comments mentioned.
Before any actual pain, what started the whole thing out was noticing a need to crack my shoulder back. Rarely at first, and eventually very frequently, I would lift my arm up and move it lateral and posterior to crack my back near the edge of the scapula. It also started to crack more in the middle when I would breath deeply.
Is this symptom common for posture-related muscle stress?
Thanks for any advice!
Thanks for this article very detailed.
I started to feel the pain suddenly 1 week ago after a workout session (I assume that’s what caused it). It’s painful under my right shoulder blade particularly when I turn my head in one direction and rotate my shoulder towards the other direction. I don’t feel the pain when I’m not moving or laying on my bed. Do you think these exercises would help to fix it?
Also I’m currently travelling in Thailand and can get pretty cheap Thai massages (stretches) or relaxing oil massages. Do you recommend these to help relieving the symptoms?
Based on what you’ve said, it could definitely be of muscular origin and massage can help give some relief.
However- it is hard to say without a proper assessment.
If it is just a simple muscular strain however, it should generally go away fairly quickly.
Hi there I been have shoulder blade back pain for awhile now it all started 2 yrs ago I got shingles right in this area went to doc took meds six weeks later seem to be ok my back has always kinda bothered me on n off since then now just 6 months ago I had a baby the pain came back a lot worse 4days after having her n now it’s stayed but no rashes just agony pain in my right shoulder blade the pain now radiates up to my neck on both side but right side is worse ,, Any thoughts : ( thanks a lot!!!
Hi Mark, I’ve been getting pain between shoulder blades and top of sternum for 6 to 7 months now. It’s generally okay when walking etc but I drive a lot and that’s when I get it or when I’m sitting or stressed. Both front and back seem to hurt at the same time. Doc says it’s probably costochondritis but seems to dragging on for ages. Any ideas?
Sounds like your shoulder blade pain and sternal pain may have something to do with your ribs. (which can lead to costochondritis)
Poor positioning of the ribs can be exacerbated in prolonged static postures such as your driving.
To fix it- you will need to look at your posture whilst driving and assess how it is influencing your ribs.
(I unfortunately don’t have any blog posts on rib pain specifically yet :( )
Mark, I have loved reading this post as well as all your other posts. Thank you for your time and dedication towards improving others quality of life. I am a 37 yo dentist and have been experiencing pain/tightness between/under my shoulder blades for around 6 years now. As a dentist, my posture is routinely compromised on behalf of the patient and when I’m not with a patent, I’m usually at a computer doing notes etc.. I also drive 3.5 hours/day to my rural clinic so I have a lot of negative things working against me. This condition is one that has driven me crazy over the past 6 years but I have found ways to mitigate the pain with cardio, band/weight exercise, yoga, chiropractor, massage, acupuncture, stretching, icing, massage ball etc.. However, I have yet to find anything that has given me true freedom and healing from this pain/tightness. A drastic change in occupation/lifestyle is definitely on the table! I’m excited to regularly practice this routine you have given us above. My question is this, you speak of lack of internal rotation which I have no problems with. I do, however, have issues with a lack of external rotation, to the degree that if I lay on my back in a cactus pose, my hands aren’t even close to touching the floor. Could a lack of external rotation contribute to this/my condition and are there exercises you could recommend to improve external rotation?
Thank you in advance,
Hey Rick the dentist,
If you have true full internal rotation of the shoulder, then you do not have to do the associated exercises for it.
… however – just make sure that your shoulders aren’t rounding forwards and lifting up as you do the internal rotation test for it (ie. pin your shoulders back first). This will give you a false negative.
Lack of external rotation will generally affect people who need to adopt positions that have their arms over shoulder height or out to the side. In your case as a dentist, lack of internal rotation would be more of a contributing factor than lack of external rotation.
Check out this post too: How to fix rounded shoulders.
Thanks Mark! I will definitely continue to do the internal rotation exercises but I but I am very close if not there without my shoulders lifting. I think you are spot on. My issue is that occupationally my arms are held out to the side in an abducted position almost constantly while seeing patients. If laying on the ground and full internal rotation is at 0 degrees, my external rotation is at 160-165 degrees. What exercises do you recommend for improving ER?
Thank you so much for your time!
Yeah, my arms are out to the side in an abducted position almost constantly when seeing patients which might be causing the lack of external rotation. My internal rotation is pretty good. Do you have exercises you can recommend for gaining external rotation?
Try these out:
1. Stretch the chest
2. Stretch the lats
3. Joint external rotation mobilisation
4. Strengthen end range external rotation
All the best!
Thank you very much Mark!
I started walking on 1/1/18. I am up to 3 miles and feel great, but now I am having pain between my shoulder blades. It started about two weeks ago, comes and goes. It seems to have gotten worse though. At first I though it was related to chest press and flys but I haven’t lifted in two week. There aren’t any breathing or cold issues. It has been in the high 20s this past week if that make a difference. I also have an ongoing right foot nerve pain as well as some right hip discomfort but this shoulder blade issue has reached pain levels that not even the heat is helping. I do have posture issues, looking down all the time but I try to concentrate of good posture when I go on my walks. Ideas?
If walking is definitely the trigger for your newly acquired shoulder blade pain, I would then think the movement +/- position of the shoulders whilst walking would be a big factor.
Are you swinging your shoulders/arm a lot? Or carrying weights?
You can try doing shoulder rolls in the backwards direction every 5 minutes or so and see if that makes any difference.
Great Article! 5-6 months back i started having little pain in my right arm/bicep area but only when i push it back like try to on/off a switch on my back side. But for the past 1 month i have some pain on my back side of the shoulder around right side of the blade lower towards the arm pit. I also have a little pain in the bicep area. I am a sports person and have trouble throwing the ball or lifting a bat and hitting it long way. I feel the pain is more on the back side as i mentioned. I am not too sure what is the exact issue and what exercises to follow for this kind of issue.
Can you draw on a picture exactly where you are experiencing your pain?
I clean house’s for a company, 22 yrs. Recently i get pain between my shoulder blades n the only thing that helps is sitting n heat. What else can i do?
The exercises mentioned in the post are a good place to start.
Additionally, I would consider looking at this post:
How to fix rounded shoulders.
A few days ago my right arm start tingling in the forearm then moved up my arm to my shoulder. I have applied heat and took Ibuprofen then tried several exercises that you have on your website. After the exercises my arm felt worse. The tingly feeling increased. What would you recommend?
Sounds like you have increased inflammation that relates to a NERVE issue.
If the exercises made it worse (which it probably will with nerve issues), I would stop them immediately.
Let the anti-inflammatory medication do their job and see how it feels in the next 5 days.
If tingling is worsening or is still present, I would consider getting a scan of your neck.
Hi I do these exercises about twice a week I realise you recommend to do it daily but I just don’t have the motivation aha.. I was just wondering the muscle I injured next to my should plate then feel a bit stiff the following day or two so should I wait until it stops being stiff before I can lift weights? Thanks
I would wait until you have recovered from this injury before returning 100% to weight lifting.
Ok thanks for that. Would you say I should do the exercises on the fixing bad posture for rounded shoulders post while I’m doing these exercises?
Hard to give you exact instructions without assessing you, but yes, this is where I would probably start!
Sir with respect that my father has pain in his disc what should we do but he recovered 80 percent but 20 percent pain is not ridding of plz advise us love from Pakistan
Around July of this year, I started having slight pain in my forearm and tricep muscle when I was lying in bed and would reach to grab my drink on the table beside my bed (extended back and over motion). I only felt pain mostly when sitting at the computer and reaching out for my coffee cup when I brought it back and began to drink. Pain was moderate and not debilitating, but more of an irritant. Around the first of November, after many days of sand by hand and polishing a truck that I was repainting, the pain got relatively severe in the portion of the scapula nearest the spine. I has some loss of ability to bring my head back as to look at the sky. While doing stretches to resolve this problem, I tilted my head back and gave it a really good stretch and while holding the stretch I felt what would resemble a string sliding through the upper part of the scapula. As such, I regained the ability to get full extension in my neck, but still have the pain in the inner part of the scapula. Any thoughts as to the problem or what that was that move to release and allow full extension would be great. Thanks in advance. Alvin
Sounds like some sort of issue with the superficial back arm line
This is where you can have pain along the muscles of the forearm, elbow, back of arm, between shoulder and into the neck. (this can be caused by posture)
Most commonly (… but not always), the mid trapezius and rhomboids are the cause of shoulder blade pain.
If you have rounded shoulders, I would consider looking at this post here.
I appreciate your quick response and thank you. As to the rounded shoulders, that would be a no. Posture could be part of it, but my normal posture is good and as of now, standing up against a wall, normal stance would be heels, butt, shoulders against wall with possibly an inch space on head–maybe a bit of head forward that could be corrected. However, when the head is retracted to the wall, after a short time (10 seconds or so) the radiating pain goes to the forearm muscle. Should there be a problem with the disc in the back, and I don’t think that is it (but I am treating that with cervical traction), I am quite sure that it would be in the C-7 nerve root from what my research has concluded. But, like you, I figure the actual problem lies in the traps. As such, I will do what I can to stretch the traps and rhomboids out and to also strengthen them and see how that goes. Thanks again, Alvin
Are you getting symptoms in your 2nd and 3rd finger? C7 nerve will tend to go to these areas too.
No, I have never had any pain go further than the forearm, and for the most part now, the pain is limited to the scapula. I do chin tucks and shoulder shrugs mostly. The way I have be doing them for maximum gain is to shrug shoulders, tighten shoulder blades or pull them together and hold that for 3o-60 seconds and while doing this, tilt my head up as to look overhead and then down for the entirety of the chin tuck/shrug. When I do this, the longer I hold the tuck and shrug, the pain goes from the scapula into the tricep first and then down to the forearm. This pain, although it moves from scapula to the forearm, I do not have pain in two places at once–it is concentrated to one of the three main muscles. One other thing I might add is that this is my dominant arm–right arm. Thanks Alvin
I was an avid boxer 3 years ago but was forced too stop due to extensive upper back pain. The pain has been in the upper shoulder blades and the area above it and the back of the neck.
I have done physio therapy, had a shoulder X-ray and had an MRI of the neck yet nothing has improved.
The doctor suggests that i should continue with the physio exercises which are ( 25 clap press ups and shoulder mobility plank on two balls) and possibly get a personal trainer to strengthen and reduce the pain.
I would like to ask you what you would advise in this situation and if I should also implament your exercises into my routine. My goals are to remove the pain as soon as possible as I have had it for years and it really is affecting my mental health. Thank you
What’s your posture like? What positions do you notice more pain?
If you have the typical boxer’s posture, I would have a look at these links:
– Forward head posture
– Rounded shoulders
– Hunch back posture
I observed the most pain in 1, 5, the upper trapiz stretch , the internal stretch exercise and the wall angel.
I have tried checking my posture and my pysiotherapist did say to me about a year ago ( when i was still on the nhs phsyio scheme) that i had rounded shoulders and was allways in a ” protective stance” .
Exercise 1 ,2, the upper trapizius stretch,increase internal rotatationand wall angel are all very painful .
In terms of posture wgen i Was with the nhs last year the physio therapist did say that i had ” rounded shoulders” due being in a ” constant protective stamce”
My advice: Go gentle with the exercises and slowly ease into them.
If your body is not ready for certain positions/exercises/stretches, you might get a bit of pain from doing so.
If in doubt, get it checked out :)
I am a 35 year old female in good health. I recently changing my work situation from working in an office (with proper ergonomic desk, chair etc) to working from home. I don’t have a home office yet, so I was working at my kitchen table for a day last week, sitting on a stool with no back support, and after a couple of hours, developed pain in my upper back ( along the upper spine and around the shoulder blades). I’ve experienced this before if I sit for a while with no back support , but once I would get the pain, I would change my position to one with back support, or get up and walk around, and it wouldn’t bother be again
However, last week, I sat through the pain, thinking it would go away. I did this again the following day. Now, a week later, the same pain lingers and comes back very quickly when I sit.
I am guessing I strained these muscles and they take a while to heal as they are used so much. I am concerned however, and would like this issue resolved as soon as possible. Any advise would be much appreciated!
Also, I am very conscious of having good posture, and throughout the experience above would ensure my shoulders were rolled back.
If your pain is from the muscles between the shoulder blades, then the exercises in the blog post should work a treat.
Sounds like you pushed past what your postural muscles can handle. Let them rest and recover.
In the mean time, get those muscles stronger!
I was feeling pain in back so applied cold therapy to it by sleeping in the opposite side of the body. But after applying cold therapy my left scapula is paining Is it due to cold or any other problem. Please suggest the solution.
I don’t think the cold pack would have caused an issue to your muscles… unless you gave yourself an ice burn on your skin?
Other than that, it may had just been the position that you may have been whilst lying on your side.
I am suffering from the same issue from the past week. The Pain is coming when i am travelling by bus and gets reduced after taking 5-10 steps (walk). Recently there was reduction in sleeping time (sleeping for only 5-6 hours) does this cause any issue.My age is 27 years
Is it only when you are on the bus, or is it when you sitting in general?
Even While Sitting Slight pain is observed.
It sounds like you may have Rounded shoulders? This could potentially be the cause of your shoulder blade pain.
Hey Mark thanks for all the information. I’ve had a shoulder issue for a year now and no one has been able to diagnose it yet. I tweaked it one day swinging in volleyball and eventually had to stop playing as every week it would get worse and worse. I took five months off lifting heavy and overhead activities and I was able to play baseball with no pain. I just recently tweaked my shoulder again during the second week of volleyball season and it feels the same as it did a year ago. I do a tone of mobility exercises and stretches but it wasn’t quite enough to stay healthy. During the shoulder pumps, I cannot seem to loosen up on my throwing arm there no matter how many times I do it. I really like scalene and trap stretches as they feel instantly better. My chest and along my scapula is always very tight and can’t ever seem to release it as well as I can other muscles. Also, if I roll out my T spine for more than two minutes at a time, my median nerve must get irritated because my shoulder and all the way down to my hand is pins and needles for hours after. I can’t seem to get my overhead range of motion back. If you have a second, any advice would be unreal since my MRI isn’t for another five months. Thanks again.
Could you please detail exactly where you have your pain on a diagram?
Sounds like you may have a sensitive nerve.
I can feel a bit of a twinge doing that stretch for sure. Pain is most prominent in my rhomboids and down my scapula. Some near the bottom of my lat along the rib cage, pain at the front of the shoulder where the long head of the bicep inserts and posterior as well. My levator scapula and scalenes are always tight as well. After doing your wall angel stretches for a while it feels like I have no symptoms and I’m back to normal. After a few minutes my range of motion is limited again and sharp at the end. Also my internal rotation isn’t as good as my other arm and is painful to test. If I put a resistance band along my elbow, hand behind my head and let it pull back so my arm looks like I am doing your shoulder pump, I also feel pain free for a few minutes. Thanks for your help.
Do you have Rounded shoulders?
It tends to place a lot of stress on the rhomboids.
Thanks for the reply. Yeah I do have rounded shoulders for sure. After a year of being misdiagnosed a few times, I think it’s back to a supraspinatus injury here. Tough when so many shoulder injuries have similar symptoms and referred pain.
After seeing a sports doc they said I have thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms with some rotator cuff issue. Ordering some nerve tests and still waiting on an MRI in March. After doing some reading I’m wondering if my subclavius and pec major tightness is causing it all. Since I always have pain in my rhomboid and all along my scapula, it could be from my pec pulling it forward. One shoulder is always higher than the other, possibly from my subclavius being too tight as well. Do you have any good subclavius exercises?
Thanks again for your help.
– I would still consider doing the rounded shoulder exercises as well.
– Don’t let your shoulders droop down/forwards. This can increase the chance of compression of your brachial plexus.
– Make sure your scalenes aren’t tight. Here is a stretch:
– Check that you don’t have an extra rib in the cervical region.
Hope this helps!
Hi Mark! I’m 17 and am experiencing pain behind my right shoulder blade when I am swinging a baseball bat. Zero pain when I am throwing a baseball, only when swinging. What do you think could be causing this? I hurt it about 8 months ago and I got a cortisone shot and did stretches and it alleviated the pain and ur had randomly came back out of nowhere. Thanks!
If your pain is right on your shoulder blade bone, it may be due to one of your rotator cuff muscles.
Is the pain when you bring the bat backwards, as you swing or as you make contact with the ball?
Bring the bat backwards after making contact
So finishing the swing is what brings pain
My guess would be that the pain may be experienced as your muscles on the shoulder blade try to slow down your arm movement after hitting the ball.
My Recommendation: Side lying horizontal abduction with a weight/or resistance band.
But I would let the arm drop all the way down so the it is across your body. Focus on lowering your arm slowly.
The pain comes after making contact
Hey Mark I’m experiencing pain in my right shoulder blade and have tried all of the steps but they haven’t worked any other suggestions?
Are there any issues with other structures other than your muscles such as ribs/joints.
Or are you still doing activities that are causing the symptoms?
Hi Mark, I have multiple problems in my shoulder blades and upper back. I have rounded shoulders due to poor posture and scapular winging as well. I tend to have constant pain around my rhomboid muscle(mostly on the left side). The pain is really frustrating. I would like to know what should I begin with because you have separate articles for all of these issues. So I am getting confused about which problem should I address first.
Just wondering If we do all these exercises in one sitting in the order it is written? or should I loosen or stretch one day and then use heat pad another day, then do the exercises another day?
If you can tolerate doing all of them in the one day (and if you find benefit from all exercises), then I would recommend that.
If you are quite sensitive, you might need to split up the routine so that the body can handle it.
Cool, Thanks Mark :)
Hi Mark.. I am have been having pain in my right scapula region which radiates down to my right elbow. The pain is since past 7 years.. i have shown to many drs and got my mri dome as well.. but every doctor says it is due to incorrect posture.. i have done physiotherapy, needling, but i used to get only temporary relief.. i have been doing exercises regularly.. from past 2-3 months im having pain in my neck on both sides and left scapula as well..the pain is very severe… It is very irritating and frustrating… I plan to follow your set of exercises.. any other suggestions.. thank you
P.S. I work in a IT company, but i make sure to take breaks.
Did you get an MRI of the neck?
If you have done physiotherapy and it is still there and getting worse, it may possibly coming from the neck!
No i did MRI of cervical spine… It showed ‘Straightening of the normal lordosis of the cervical spine, this indicates paraspinal muscle spasm’. Also neck pain has started recently… But the scapular pain has been from a very long time..
Mark i would be in Sydney in the end of december(29,30,31), would it be possible to show you…
Hey Mark, great info! I am having some issues with my left side shoulder blade and also some tightness in my neck. I am pretty sure it’s how I am sleeping because the pain is always worse when I wake up in the morning. I have tried different pillows but no luck yet.
Is there a alternative stretch for #2 that doesn’t involve a exercise ball? I can lean my head down to the right and relax my left arm and feel it pulling in my left shoulder blade. Feels really good but I wished it stretched the blade more.
You can do the same exercise without the ball. The ball is there to help make sure you round your back to help increase the stretch of the shoulder blade.
The more you can round the shoulder blade region, the more you should be able to feel the stretch.
I have been diagnosed with a mildly enlarged spleen around 2 years ago can’t find a cause. I have been experiencing dull pain in my left shoulder blade for nearly 2 years also. Not had any scans on back. Doctor tells me it is muscular pain and not referred pain from my spleen. What are your thoughts?
From what I’ve seen in the clinic, I have not come across anyone whose shoulder blade pain was due to a spleen issue. (… But I guess there could always be a first?)
Have any of the exercise in this blog post helped ease the pain? If it has, this may suggest that it is more of a muscular origin.
I have pain in my left shoulder blade. I can get good sleep . So please advise me for exercise which is the best for shoulder blade pain.
All of these exercises are designed for shoulder blade pain!
I’ve recently noticed that one of my shoulders is pulled higher than the other, it looks like the trapezius muscle (??) is shorter than on the other side and it makes my head slightly tilted that way. It’s not very noticeable on first sight, but I am a dancer and I can feel it affects my dancing. Are there any excercises i can do to even the two sides??
If it just due to a tight upper trap muscle, you just need to stretch away from the side your head is tilting.
However, more often than not, I find a head tilt is usually due to something happening with the spine lower down.
Are your shoulder blades level?
I have hard points in right shoulder at the front side, this all started with some badminton smashes without warm up, its been 4 months now i have this problem, right shoulder feels very stiff, i even tried IFT but not much significant diffrence.
Please suggest me some solution, i cant play lawn tennis or do swimming or many other activities at my best.
If the pain is at the front of your shoulder, then it is probably not shoulder blade pain.
There are many structures at the front of the shoulder that can easily get damaged when you smash in badminton.
Here are the most common injuries to the front of the shoulder:
– Rotator cuff tendon strain/tear
– Long head biceps strain/tear
– Pec major tear/strain
– Deltoid strain
– Subacromial bursitis
You might need to have a read up on the injuries above and see which one you have.
I’m a 52 yr old female , I started about a year ago eating right losing weight, and lifting , everyonce in awhile my shoulder and upper back would ache., I figured it was from lifting so I nursed it as such. We’ll I stopped lifting for abou 1 month , woke one morning and had terrible pain between my shoulder blades , I went to the Chiropractor but as time went on the pain got worse , I had a couple of deep tissue massages done, gave me relief for about 4 days , then the pain came back, I finally went to see my Physcian I was told I have a rotator cuff, they sent me to therApy a few times , but a lot of money out of my pocket., I bought a cream called Aspercream with LIDOCAINE it numbs the pain for a while I have been doing your exercises for a few days… my question is should I get an MRI done or keep up with the exercises will this pain subside? Thank you
It’s hard to say what exactly you have without assessing you personally. But if you wanted to see if there was any structural damage to your rotator cuff, an Ultrasound scan should be able to show you that.
If there was some relief with a massage, then it sounds like your issue is more of a muscular problem. These exercises should help out with that!
Do you have Rounded shoulders?
Hi i am playing Boxing.. so after practice my shoulders blades hurting badly so please guide me to strengthen and fix that pain
Since boxing involves the shoulders being forwards for most of the time (in a defensive and offensive position), the muscles between the shoulder blades will be eccentrically loaded.
Exercises like these should help:
If you want more info on rounded shoulders, check out this post here.
This one is a long shot but i’ll ask anyway. I train with bodyweight exercises 3 times per week, have been doing so for over half a year now and have run into a problem that I was hoping you could determine for me. I have a pain in what feels like the right shoulder blade/back of shoulder joint, it is not a sharp pain and it does not hurt when exercising, I only feel it when I have my hands down by my side and push my hands down, which pushes my shoulderblades down my back (the same position you would be in at the top of a bodyweight dip where I’m pushing my shoulders away from my ears).
This has persisted for around a month now and have stopped training for two weeks in fear of further injury, any feedback on what it could be would be much appreciated.
I’ll also add that it doesn’t hurt when I touch that area at all.
Hard to say without seeing you in person.
But, these would be the my best guesses:
1- Infraspinatus/Teres minor strain
2- Posterior deltoid strain
3 – Long head triceps
All (but not limited to) could reproduce your issues.
Awesome website, definitely has a lot of things I can relate to. I tried to post a comment yesterday through my phone and not sure it worked so I’ll try through the computer. I’m a big weight lifter typically 6 to 7 days a week of lifting, and tend not to take many breaks/days off. The other day I was dumbbell shoulder pressing heavy weight and during the set I felt a pain near my left shoulder blade. At first it felt more towards the spine but at the end of my workout it seemed to be near the middle of the shoulder blade but doesn’t seem to be right on top of it kinda near the rhomboids. Still have full range of motion with my shoulder, hurts a tad for certain movements. The movements that really make it worse are tilting my head down, and moving it to the left (especially) or right as if to look over my shoulder and these seem to be the ones that make the pain move to the left trap as well. I started doing some of the exercises/stretches and it seems to be a tad better. Trying to figure out the best way to recovery/fix to this without taking days out of the gym (probably not the best idea). My neck is typically rather tight as well, since I shrug like 3 times a week. Any thoughts on what my issue was that caused it or what the problem is? Thank you.
If it just a muscular strain, it should get better with these exercises.
Do you happen to have a flat upper back?
(You might need to get someone to have a look at it from the side and feel the spine.)
If so- it may be your facet joints which can get squashed when you doing over head activities like shoulder presses. This occurs when your extend your upper back too much.
Not sure if I have a flat upper back, could be a high possibility since I do some sort of overhead press every week, lately twice a week (ex. dumbbell shoulder press, standing military press in the same workout). If it is the facet joints is there a different route for handling that situation?
I will continue doing the exercises, and I do have a massage scheduled this week to hopefully loosen my upper body up since I am usually pretty tight in my neck, shoulders and pec areas.
If your pain is due to your facet joints, you will need to focus on keeping those joints open/decompressed through posture and perhaps technique modification.
Otherwise, with massage releases and stretches, it should come good :)
Great article, looking forward to trying out these exercises. Wanted to see your thoughts on my situation. I’m a big weight lifter, workout 6 to 7 days a week. Just recently I was dumbbell shoulder pressing and after the set I felt a pain near my left shoulder blade. Kinda felt like it was more towards my spine but after time went on it feels like it’s in between the spine and the top of the shoulder blade. I have full movement of my shoulder. The pain really only increases when I drop my head or move it to the right or left (especially) to look over my shoulder. Hoping it’s not a pinched nerve, any ideas?
P.S. I was kayaking for the first time this year the day before, so I used some similar muscles.
For some reason it just loaded this comment, and I just tried to upload another.
Well at least there will be a little more information.
Sorry for the confusion Mark!!
Hi Mark your article has been very helpful so far but as someone who doesn’t have time to do all the exercises every day I was wondering which ones were the most important? I’m guessing 4 and 9 would be up there
Hey J Lin!
That really depends what your body needs!
I would recommend doing all of them to begin with, and see which ones your body responds best to.
But if you wanted just 2 exercises, I would do #3 and #9.
Hi mark! I don’t know if I post the commen on the right place.
Thanks for sharing this valuable information on this website!
I have shoulder blade pain, it’s from constant working position. The doctor told me the pain I have is on my rhomboid area. I have taken X-ray, and MRI. Nothing seems wrong there. When I take a deep breath, I can even feel the pain on my shoulder blade. Should I go see a chiropractor? I know there is a big knot on there, will these exercises help my pain? I started doing the exercises you posted here a week ago, am I supposed to do it everyday? What about the massage ball and the foam roller? Should I do it everyday or let the muscle rest for a couple of days and start doing it again?
Thank you so much for taking your time reading this!
I just answered your question on Facebook. But I’ll reply here too in case it might help someone else out!
Having a health professional assess you is always a good thing. The will find the underlying CAUSE of your issues.
With knots, tightness, pain etc in the rhomboid, I find that it is usually due to a poor static posture, and/or repetitive movements of the arm.
You can do these exercises everyday. However – it really depends on how your body responds to the exercises. Some people feel rather bruised up the first few times and need 2-3 days rest before they do it again.
Hi Mark… I was in an equine accident in April 2016 & broke ribs 2, 3 & 4 around my left shoulder blade. I’ve had persistent muscle spasms & pain around & under the shoulder blade since. I’ve been in Chiro to keep alignment & have done stretches to try to relieve the pain. Do you have other recommendations?
The main thing I would probably add is doing exercises for breathing.
This will help free up your ribs and get them moving better.
Has the chiro gone through breathing exercises with you?
I am a 67 year old woman. I am pretty sure my pain comes from too much computer work on my laptop. I teach online and also am transcribing oral histories by typing them all out. I also spend a lot of time on an iPad. I go to a deep tissue massage therapist about twice a month and occasionally see a chiropractor. My pain is minimal during the day except for when I get up in the morning, my lower right scapula ( closest to my spine) is very painful as gravity pulls on it. After about 2 minutes, the pain subsides. At night it hurts if I reach across to get something off the bed stand. It is difficult for me to get on the floor to do execercises because I am overweight as well I also have sciatic nerve, periformis muscle issues which affect my right leg and thigh. Suggestions?
If your main pain is directly after you wake up, the first thing I would look at is which sleeping position you are in.
Is it possible that you may be compressing the area?
Hi Mark! i’m having and issue with my left shoulder. i have a dull pain on the edge of the blade and when it hurts the most i have a pain at the elbow and tingling in the fingers. I;m an avid cyclist and i need to find a way to loosen up the muscle. i stopped for 2 weeks now and the issue hasn’t went away
Was it the cycling that has caused your shoulder blade pain?
It sounds like my carpal tunnel
I spent this past Friday, Saturday and part of Sunday in my recliner holding my kindle and reading, non-stop. Yesterday, (Monday) and today I could hardly move my upper body. The pain radiating from the muscles between my right shoulder blade and spine is unbelievable. When I put my head down I feel it down my right shoulder blade and into the muscles. Any suggestions, other than the obvious, DON’T DO THAT AGAIN!!
… Must have been a good book!
Unfortunately – long periods where you aren’t moving can place a lot of stress on your postural muscles.
If your muscles between you shoulder blades are causing the issue, I would start by releasing the painful area with a massage ball.
Apply a heat pack regularly.
Whilst taking a hot shower, do slow and controlled circles with your neck.
Practise doing shoulder rolls in a backwards direction. Make sure you can feel the muscular contraction.
3 weeks ago, I woke up 1 morning with a terrible pain in my neck down to my right arm (up to the fingers). I immediately consulted an Ortho Dr. After the MRI scan, the problem was spotted at the C5 and c6. He said there is a pinched nerve which causes pain.
I have undergone PT and took so many medicines but the pain is still unbearable that makes me awake at night. What else should I do?
During the therapy, traction and some heat treatments h besden done. The PT also taught me some routine exercises but until now, I am suffering.
I will appreciate whatever advice that you could give me to get rid of my suffering. Thank you so much.
Thanks for reaching out.
From what I’ve seen, C5/6 nerve impingement is due to a forward head posture +/- Dowager’s hump.
Check out these links for more info:
– Forward head posture
– Dowager’s hump
Try this exercise to help reduce your right arm symptoms:
– Look down slightly.
– Gently tuck your chin in.
– Look to your right
– Pull your head to the Left side (think: left ear to left shoulder)
– Keep your Right shoulder pinned down.
– Aim to feel a deep stretch in your Right side of neck.
Make sure that your pain doesn’t increase in the arm.
Hi, i am 28 years old amd i have always had bad posture. I’ve always slacked and never did anything to correct this. Now i am paying the price. Lots pf back pain especially in the mid park and between the showder blades. I have started working on improving my posture but it hurts a lot. Is this normal? Also any tips on how to get better quicker? Any tips on how to maintain good posture (i often question myself if i am at proper posture when i’m trying to do it correctly)? Thank you.
It is very common to feel a bit of pain when you are correcting your posture.
My suggestion: Try to be gentle in your approach when maintaining good posture. You don’t want to feel like you’re forcing or jamming yourself into good posture.
The best way to get better quicker is to have a) daily postural exercises, b) having awareness of when you slump into bad posture and self correcting, c) minimising exposure to environments where it encourages bad posture (eg. poor ergonomic work stations) and d) remaining consistent.
You can take a photo of yourself to see if you are not sure if you are sitting with good posture. If you need more help with this, feel free to contact me on the facebook page.
Hi Mark, first i want to thank you for doing this Q&A, i appreciate it a lot and i am sure the rest pf us do as well. I will defenetly do your suggestions. I found that doing a 2-3 min yoga strech excersises in the morning combined with a max of a minute or 2 of foam rolling helps me relieve the pain, i feel a bit stronger in the bqck and more flexible. Thank you again!!!
For last couple of years I have had a tingling/numbing sensation in my left rhomboid, I had a few sport massages which gave me some relief. However it never fully healed and I still get the tingling sensation on a daily basis. When I press the trigger points you have shown on the rhomboid I get a shooting pain right through my rhomboid and top the end of my left shoulder.
I decided to start using the massage ball and really get deep into these trigger points. After a day or two I had a shooting pain in my left shoulder when I raised my arm. Do you recommend to continue daily doing these trigger point massage treatments until the pain goes?
Hi Mark. I am trying to improve my posture following problems with both shoulders seizing up 2 years ago. My problem is pain around my right shoulder blade (which sticks out a bit) rather than between the blades. I do massage and exercises but stretching or just lying on the floor makes the the pain worse – it isn’t really a problem during the day but keeps me awake at night. I am age 82, 6ft 4 tall, 13 1/2 stone, right handed and do plenty of walking, so can’t complain too much.
Any suggestions please?
Pain ON the shoulder blade is usually a sign of a rotator cuff injury. (but not limited to)
How are your shoulder movements?
And where specifically on your shoulder blade does it hurt>?
Hi – I have just had SLAP surgery on my shoulder and am 2 months into rehab. No matter how hard I try, I cannot stop my shoulder hitching. Do you have any exercises that will strengthen the muscles that this hitching is compensating for? Thanks
Hitching is very common after any shoulder surgery.
The 2 main causes being:
1. If your hitching occurs whilst moving (.. and it is not due to pain), you are still weak in those shoulder muscles. Continue with all your strengthening exercises in your rehab. Pay particular attention to all your rotator cuff work in conjunction with lower trap and serratus anterior work.
2. If you hitch if someone else moves your arm (where your arm is relaxed), this is probably due to post -surgical stiffness. The main restriction I find with my patients is a lack of
You can do a general test by reaching behind your back without letting your shoulders poke forward.
If you can aim above T7 region, then you are doing pretty well.
Hello Mark i can reach well above t7 with my left arm, but when i try with my right arm it’s not as great. It is barely hitting the t7 region. Is this normal to some people? i want to correct it as fast as possible since i experience shoulder blade pain on my right. so i thought this might be the cause. i have tried to find a stretch that allows a solve to this but i can’t find!
It is quite common to have one side that is not able to go as high up the back. This is usually seen on your dominant side.
However, if you are lacking significant internal rotation of your right shoulder (that is, unable to put your hand up your back), the best thing to do is the sleeper stretch.
This looks helpful
Do you do reps of the sleeper against resistance and how low do you go at finish
How often as well ? Thanks a ton
If you can get your forearm flat on the ground, then you probably have great range of motion!
I aim to get my patients to 60-70 degrees.
I am not sure of the exact optimal amount of times to do it. More the merrier I say!
6 months ago my shoulder locked up…it has loosen quite a bit but when I turn my neck to the right I feel an impingement type pain under scapula near bottom of it. When I foam roll like above for my thoracic spine it loosens everywhere but the area mentioned above. After rolling it feels like that area is all cramped up and uncomfortable. What would you recommend to do to get under scapula? I can provide more details if necessary. thanks
Hello Mark, I have been experiencing severe pain in the shoulder blade and that shoulder blade pain is also causing a little chest pain. As far as I remember, I had slept in a difficult position one night, since I remember waking up in the middle of night due to pain in my shoulder, however I avoided it. The same morning I started experiencing this pain. My chest does not pain that much, moreover it only pains little only when I move my shoulder such that it causes pain in the shoulder blade. I have applied Relaxyl, a gel which reduces pain for a while. I have also taken a pain killer. What would you suggest me to do?
The exercises in the post should help out heaps if it is caused by the muscle between your shoulder blades.
If pain persists, it might be an idea to get a scan or get it checked out in person by a health professional.
Hi Mark, this article was great however
I have pulled a muscle that is directly in between both of my shoulder blades, about a handspead from my neck, and I am in complete agony. Is there anything you can recommend to help me out here?
How did you pull it?
This is great stuff.
My posture has been bad for years so this will prob take a while to work asIi am doing these everyday. My question is I am extremely tight by nature and i am mildly sore a few days after doing these. DOS ( delayed onsite soreness) possibly as i geMy t this when I [play hoops as well and than it goes away
Is this normal and should I keep doing them daily as I am in pretty good shape overall other than the rounded shoulders. Keep up the great work much appreciated.
It is very common to feel a bit sore in the muscles… especially if you are focusing on doing the massage ball releases. ALL NORMAL! Your muscles will get used to it.
Keep doing the exercises. It is a bit slow at the start, but you’ll pick up the momentum.
Hello mark…i have this pain from a long tym…n ur excercises has helped me get some relief…but wen i follow the good n straight posture my traps start paining….plz help me with that ..
N i hav one more question…can i continue woeking out at gym with this pain…i wont lift heavy…
It is common to get a bit of ache from maintain good posture. It is just because your muscles aren’t used to this new position.
Try to maintain good posture for 10 minutes. Then have a rest for 10 minutes. Then follow it up with 10 minutes of good posture. It is quite difficult (and arguably impossible) to have good posture 100% of the time.
You can continue your gym. That is fine. Just make sure that you are performing it with good posture.
Good article, thank you!
I have pain and tension in the shoulderblade, but only on the right side.
The tension goes down to the ribs and groins – also here only on the right side.
Do you have any suggestions?
It is odd that your pain goes from your shoulder blade to your groin.
Can you provide me with some more info?
Hi Mark, maybe my description was not precise enough. I think it is not the same pain going down to the groins. What I wanted to say is that my pain is only on the right side – right shoulder blade.
Additionally – just to complete the picture – I also have tension on the lower ribs (right side) and the tissue between end of ribs and groins is also tight on the right side.
Left side makes no trouble at all.
Just printing off your ten steps for correcting Shoulder Blade Pain. I am 70 years old. Never really have experienced Should Blade Pain before. The only time it bothers me is at night when I am sleeping. I have found that by putting a hot patch on that area or laying on a heating pad the pain is limited and I can sleep. Once the pad turns off automatically or the patch wears off it returns and I find myself awake and hurting. Know you recommend all ten steps but are their particular steps that would address my situation more directly.
If you are only having pain whilst sleeping, I would first look at the position that you are lying in. Certain positions may cause pain in the shoulder blade area.
Another thing to consider is your pillow and mattress. Make sure they provide adequate support.
Please help me
Hi I’m 18 years old and got injured when I was about 6 months old. I fell off from bed and my righten side scapula got lifted up this prevents my right arm to rotate upwardly and I always suffer from pain whenever I carry heavy loads. This issue affects me a lot coz it restricts me on wearing clothes that don’t cover shoulders since it causes my shoulders to be cleary uneven.I’ve been living a very depressed life,my question is that can it go back to normal even if I’m no longer a baby with soft bones?? And how??
Do you have a photo of your posture ?
Great site nice tips and all,
I feel a pain when I move my head to my left, facing my left shoulder, then I feel a sharp pain on somewhere in the Rhomboid area.
I have no problem moving my arms etc its only when I move my head to the left.
I also feel that it gets worse when I try to exercise or even walking for some minutes.
What could it be?
It could be your Levator Scapulae muscle:
Or even upper/middle trapezius:
What to do: Try locating the area and pressing into it with a massage ball. Rotate your head in a circle. This should help release the muscle.
It could also be your joints in your neck (or even a rib!) that are getting pinched when you look to the left.
Try to pull your head to the Right side and see if you can target the painful area with a stretch.
Ultimately – The best thing would be to have a look at your posture and see what factors are predisposing you to get pain in the Left shoulder blade in particular.
I have something similar to this, but it’s my left upper trap that swells when I do anything. I know it has to do with posture and bad technique at the gym, which is being fixed. The full relief of pain I’ve had, was when I had a deep tissue massage conducted in my shoulder blade area, particularly the upper trap. I was able to rotate my shoulder and collar bone area without any clicking. The therapist said that the muscle/tendons around that area felt like ropes. Scarred tissue?
Would you recommend I keep getting these deep tissue massages? Along with my exercises?
I have had tightness and stiffness on my right side (my dominant hand, as well as the side I prefer to sleep on) in the neck and shoulder blade area for months now. So glad I found your tips on this page today. Bookmarking it and starting the recommended stretches ASAP!
If by any small chance, I feel little or no relief, what would you recommend next steps to be? A chiropractor visit? (something I’ve never tried). I wasn’t sure what type of professional to seek out, if any, but I am tired of just living with the pain.
See how you go with these exercises. They should definitely give you relief.
If there is minimal effect, I would strongly suggest getting assessed by a chiropractor/physical therapist.
They can pinpoint exactly what is leading to your pain in the right side. (It could be that you are tilted/rotated to one side, have an over active upper trap muscle etc etc)
Let me know if I can help you further :)
I’ve had daily chronic neck/back pain for years now trying everything and your exercises are really helping with my neck…My shoulders are still very rounded and it seems they’re naturally that way now, but this is leading to a lot of collar bone pain and pain at the back of my neck and shoulder blade area. Do you have any suggestions for how I can prevent this? The collar bone seems to get irritated as soon as I sit down in the morning to drive to work.
Another muscle that can cause Rounded Shoulders is the SUBCLAVIUS.
You can try gently massaging along the line of the muscle to see if that gives you some relief.
It is common to get pain at the back of your neck and shoulder blade region with rounded shoulders. Have you checked out the post on How to fix Rounded shoulders? This is a great place to start.
If you find that most of your symptoms occur during driving, try holding the steering wheel at 4 and 8 o clock (under hand grip) so that you elbows are pointing downwards and by the side of your body.
Do I do these exercises once daily or more??
1/day is bare minimum.
But I would do it as many times throughout the day for best results.
I want ask you if it is normal, when i am rolling my tight points between my shoulder blades with a ball and i have pretty strong pain in my shoulder ?
If it just a strained muscle, it is quite normal to get pain when you activate that muscle.
You can continue with the shoulder circles, just don’t push into that painful position too hard. It should ease off with repeated circles.
I wanted to ask you, if its normal to feel strong pain in my shoulder when i am rolling/massaging places between my shoulder blade with a ball ?
Hi there, I’m experiencing all these things (including numbness in my fingers) and I know it’s a result of poor posture. I’ve seen many chiropractors and physical therapists. The tape really helps me, but if I don’t have it on, my posture returns to its poor state, my muscle spasms in my shoulder, and then many times my rib head is pulled out of place on my left side. Can I still do these exercises with a rib out? What about the massage ball? How should I be sleeping at night? And lastly, do those back braces you get on amazon really work? Thank you so much for any help!
It is fine to do these exercises if your rib is not in the right place. However- you will need to find out why it keeps doing that.
The best sleeping position is on your back as this promotes the most symmetry of the body. However… if this is too uncomfortable, sleep with your painful shoulder on top (support it with pillows so it does not slide into a weird angle)
I am not the biggest fan of back braces, however, if you are just going to use it SHORT TERM to serve as a reminder to keep good posture, then they are fine. But I would not use them long term.
I am only 13 and have really bad pain around the shoulder blade.
I also dont have any of them excersize things.
What should i do.
Please help I am in really bad pain.
HI MARK :
I’ve had this problem ever since I can remember. I get this twitching whenever I get a haircut . When the barber starts cutting my hair in the back of my neck . The nerves start twitching . I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the frequency of the motor that starts making the nerves starting to twitch . It’s very uncomfortable and irritating ! I’m wondering if anybody else has this type of a problem and if there is anything that can be done. Any help would be most appreciated . THANKS
It seems like you have hypersensitive nerve endings in the neck area.
It may or may not be related to a issue happening in the central neck region. (You can get a neck MRI to make sure)
Do you only get the symptoms when getting a hair cut?
It seems like you have hypersensitive nerve endings in the neck area.
It may or may not be related to a issue happening in the central neck region. (You can get a neck MRI to make sure)
Do you only get the symptoms when getting a hair cut?
I was wondering, when I roam roll my upper back, I hear a clunking sound at the left corner of armpit area. It is not painful , only hear an annoying clunk sound. Does that mean something is loose? I also want to let you know that Afew months ago, I fell and had to land on an out stretched hand with the left hand. Thank you.
It’s hard to tell you exactly what it is without a proper assessment.
However – the clunking may originating from your ribs. Might be an idea to get an Xray to rule out a fracture especially if you have a fall.
If it is more of a flicking noise around the arm pit area, it may be one of your tendons.
Which movement causes the noise?
When I first started to foam roll, my whole upper left back was painful and then no longer painful. INitially, I get pain on left side then clicking / clunking around area behind scapula when I foam roll and put arms behind head. Then the is noise comes from outer edge of scapula..That scapula looks like or is minimally popped up then the right scapula, at least that was what the chiropractor said when he was working on lower half of body.
Do you think it is misalignment of scapula. ? Thanks again, I Will consider an x Ray.
TH clicking/ clucking occurs when I put my arm above head when I foam roll around outer edge of scapula.
Another thing that might be causing the clunking noise is one of your tendons around that back of your shoulder.
This could be due to a poorly positioned scapula.
hi my name is Dawit & i am Ethiopian …..my problem is wrong position of shoulder (i.e my right shoulder is upper than the normal if you want the picture i will send to your email.please answer by email.
Please private message me on Facebook and I will try my best to help you out.
Thanks for the reply.
I do sit allot during the day at my desk , car etc.
My right shoulder feels like there is a not ( trigger point) but my shoulders do not hurt at all but are stiff. Would the above 10 steps help for this as well help and is this prob posture related as well? Thanks again
Thanks for the reply.
I do sit allot during the day at my desk , car etc.
My right shoulder feels like there is a not ( trigger point) but my shoulders do not hurt at all but are stiff. Would the above 10 steps help for this as well help and is this prob posture related as well? Thanks again
If there is a knot in your shoulder blade, the exercises will definitely help you.
Great stuff you offer a valuable service and its greatly appreciated. After years of sitting with poor posture, office and car it finally caught up to me so this is great info and believe it will help me over time..
I tried to do # 4 stretch as it looks like it would help but with out a video not sure what it means to lean back, as she appears to be standing standing straight up and than push’s her shoulders forward? Don’t mind me I am getting old and I have shoulder stiffness in both shoulder blades not really any pain- more like stiffness.
I did strain the RHS rotator cuff maybe that is causing some compensation in my shoulder muscles ? Thanks again
your fingers together.
Lean back and hunch your ur back as much as possible.
Push your hands away from you.
When you lean back in this stretch, you are trying to round the upper back as much as possible to stretch out those muscles between your shoulder blades. As your back rounds, your shoulders will naturally come forward as well.
For last few years I had badly experienced pain in the left shoulder sincemail there it has become on and off which means I get alright with no treatment and any exercises but after sometimes again same thing happens. I cannot sit on a training where I have to write and listen equally. Why this pain occurs frequently and I know that it’s not because of my body posture.
Hi Mark! I’ve been thinking for a while that I was having chest pains. However, recently I started massaging my left shoulder blade and feel a sharp stabbing feeling. Im thinking the pain is linked to this. I tried some of the exercises above and experienced a numbing in my left arm ( as I have in the past.) I did the Serratus Anterior release. Do you think that my assumption of ‘heart pain’ could be generated by bad posture and new injuries in the past? These stretches were very effective. The only one that was painful, but definitely felt the stretch, was the Serratus Anterior release. Thank you :)
I’m suffering from back pain in the right shoulder blade area for more than 4 years (I’m 50 years old male). Numerous MRIs and X-Rays found nothing. The doctors were always sending me to physical therapy that made no difference – in fact, if they asked me to do some exercises with my right hand the pain would become intolerable. As long as I’m not using my right hand much (if the level of the elbow stays low) I’m in fact not having any pain, especially if I’m sitting.
After finding your page I’m pretty sure that it describes my problem, together with bad posture I have all my life.
But when I started your exercises doing the movement #4 produces no pain whatsoever and your description of the exercise states that there should be pain?!
1. Do you think my symptoms correspond to shoulder blade pain?
2. It would be really nice if you can make 30 seconds videos for exercises 4 to 7. I’m not sure I’m doing them properly.
Your symptoms do sound like it corresponds to shoulder blade pain. It is very common to have poorly positioned shoulders which make the muscles between the shoulder blade very weak. These muscles support the weight of your arm.
With the shoulder blade stretch, the sensation you are looking for is a deep stretching sensation. You do not want any sharp pain.
In regards to videos, that is a fantastic idea. Will definitely look into it. Thanks for the suggestion.
Hello, Mark. Thank you for the great information. I have been having a lot of issues with the muscles on both sides of my spine between my shoulder blades for a number of years now. I went to see a specialist last week and they told me, based on the MRI, the cervical portion of my spine curves outward instead of inward. This is causing issues with my thorasic curvature and ultimately giving me quite a bit of muscle pain if I sleep wrong or sit wrong. Have you heard of spinal issues like this causing muscle pain in these areas? I can’t seem to find any examples. I am an otherwise healthy adult and would like to find a resolution for this pain before it gets worse. I would appreciate any help.
It looks like you have described a Forward Head posture. You can find out more info on it right here. This will explain the reversal of your curve in your neck.
Do you have Rounded shoulders? It is often associated with your type of pain?
Hi Mark. Great information! I have a couple of questions about my situation. I cut my finger on my right hand last week and had to get the laceration taken care of. As a result, I have to keep my hand dry (elevated in the shower in a plastic bag). I have also been protecting that hand as well. About 4 days after I injured my hand, I woke up with shoulder blade pain. I’m assuming I pulled a muscle somehow from holding my hand up, etc. It has now been about 4 days since I started feeling the muscle pain. It’s worse at night when I am sleeping (I woke up last night on my back to sharp pains) and when I am showering, holding my hand up and using left hand to wash my hair. First, are the exercises you suggested the best ones for me to do, or should I be doing something else? And secondly, what is the least painful position to sleep? Thanks!
Hi Mark. I forgot to add that it is my right shoulder blade that bothering me. Thanks.
Hey there Amber,
You are having pain as you are using muscles that you do not usually use.
This should not be permanent.
The exercises mentioned in the post will help you out heaps!
When you sleep, just make sure you support your shoulder by hugging a pillow (if you are on your side).
If lying on your back, place a small pillow underneath the upper arm for support.
Hey Amber, I just had an extensive skin cancer removed from my hand with a skin graft from my thigh added. I have had my hand up for one week as it throbs to hang down and also cannot get it wet. The pain in my hand started to subside and I was hit with left neck shoulder blade pain and my whole arm throbs. It’s hard not to cry, so much pain in last seven days and cannot take anything for it and the Vicodin for the surgery does not agree with me. Tylenol is not getting it. Don’t know whether to use hot or cold. Let us know if you find immediate help.
I am 28 and I work in the office, I used to go to the gym 3 times a week but now I have suspended activity because my shoulders burn after exercising. I have always had low-hanging shoulders, and I think that might be the problem. Do you think there might be some exercise that could correct my shoulder posture and raise the shoulder joints above the clavicular joint at the sternum?
To fix your problem:
Strengthen your Upper Trapezius muscle:
Think about lifting your shoudlers up and slightly back. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Every hour or so.
This is a great exercises to start with. However, you may require more exercises if there are other postural issues happening as well.
I’m a digital artist who has been suffering with pain directly on my shoulder blade for a few weeks now. Unfortunately, this work really has no way about improving posture because I have to lean over my drawing tablet. Do the muscle strengthening exercises work alone, or will this problem persist even with daily stretching?
If there is absolutely no way of changing your posture or work station ergonomics, the only option really is to make your postural muscles EXTRA strong.
So on top of the stretches (which should give some relief), you will need to focus on strengthening (which will prevent the pain from starting).
The stronger your muscles, the more they should be able to handle.
Of course – try to take constant breaks from your forward leaning posture.
Hello man,often rhomboid area pain comes from bad posture as u said,so the muscle become over stretched.Don’t u think stretching the area can worse situation?
If your Rhomboids are constantly in a elongated state (which is common), then you would not want to overly stretch the muscle.
However- if you wanted some temporary relief, stretching them lightly will help with that.
Overall- the focus would be to get the scapula in the correct positions so that the rhomboid can function at an optimal length.
Hi mark, I actually have a bad posture, and I mostly slouch, and I regularly feel pain in my shoulder blade near the scapula region. So is the pain because of my slouch position?
And if yes what type of exercise do you recommended that will make my posture straight and what should I do for the pain? It hurts alot sometimes
All of the exercises mentioned in the post are really great for your shoulder blade pain.
If you are looking for exercise to fix your posture, here are some specific posts for you to have a read:
– Forward head posture
– Rounded shoulders
– Hunch back posture
These are a good starting point :)
Very deep and informative. Thanks a lot for sharing.
Hi Mark I’m 42 years old suffering from burning pain between my shoulder I’m a nurse working in casualty busy department im standing for long time 11 hours ; so i dont know what should i do now tried all exercises but dont help went for xray nothing seems wrong from the xray; please help
Persist with these exercises.
It may not eliminate your pain completely straight away, but over time, you’ll definitely see improvement.
You might need to address your posture at work (especially if you are looking down a lot and/or using your arms) as it may be placing more stress at your shoulder blade region.
Hie Mark i have right shoulder blade pain and it is so painful at times i feel the pain in my breast right.The shoulder makes a cracking sound when i am twisting my hand.I went to several doctors and they say its muscle pain and tissues but the pain killers are not working at all
Hey Tin tin,
It’s hard to say exactly what’s wrong without assessing you.
But – have you tried releasing your Scalene muscle?
That muscle can refer pain down in the chest and at the shoulder blade region sometimes!
Pain killers generally just a temporary solution. You need to find the root cause of your pain.
Also – what do you mean by twisting of your hand. Is it palm up/down motion?
Looking forward to your reply.
Hie… Yes i meant palm up/down motion…
I would look at the Long head biceps which is located at the front of your shoulder.
This could possibly cause a bit of flicking sensation when you twist your fore arm.
I’m over 70 and a gamer, suffering from pain under my right scapula. It’s a common pain, I know, and your exercises have helped immensely. Thanks so much! Now, can you help me with my stiff neck? I sleep on my side and I have a good quality pillow for side sleepers, one that supports my head, but I still suffer from a stiff neck. This pillow is three years old … do I need a new one? Or try a different pillow? Do you have any exercises that you would recommend?
Thanks for any help you can give me
Suellen in Ottawa
Hello Suellen in Ottawa,
Glad to hear the exercises have helped with the pain under your right scapula!
In terms of your stiffness in your neck, here is a complete list of neck exercises you can do to pretty much bullet proof your neck.
It’s not specific to any certain neck issue, but it will definitely help you with a stiff neck! Try them all out. Do the ones that help you the most. (You do not have to do them all at once)
Hi. Is it safe to do all these exercises while i’m pregnant?
They are all safe for pregnant people provided that you do not lie directly on your stomach (ie. namely the Pec minor release.
If in pain, discomfort or in doubt, please email me.
Hi mark Bro I have relief from my right Shoulder blade but when i move it I hurts or Should i go to gym or not…?
If it is nothing too serious, you can continue your gym work out providing that it is not aggravating any of your pain.
If it is still hurting, you might need to fix this issue first.
i m facing lots of pain in my left shoulder. i have done lots of excercises to get rid of it but all of them not seem to working for me. i also have bad posture and i m working on it. the pain started last month while lifting weights. pain killer lasting for 2 to 3 hour. help me mark i have some physical test to prepare … help me to fix it
i m facing lots of pain in my left shoulder while sleeping..even i can not simply lay down on my bed. i take pain killer bt its not lasting too long. i also have some physical test due to this much of pain i cant even prepare for that. help me to fix it
HI mark i have been experiencing numbness in my arm and my feet, and i feel a stretch in my trap/collar, what can i do to fix this
plz help asap
Hello mark. I have a very bad posture like I was a hunchback already. I use to sit my head forward on the monitor and my back arch and my breast in. Is there any way to correct my posture fast and permanently?
Have a look at this post to help fix your Hunchback Posture.
There are no instant fixes. It does take time. But it will be worth it!
I have pain in my left shoulder blade. feels like the inside of my left shoulder blade and now there is pain in my arm as well. the pain in the arm is dull and more pronounced near my elbow and ring and little finger. Dicloran and Muscle relaxants are not helping.
any suggestions ?
You might have some active trigger points in some of your muscles that are referring pain down your arm.
Try releasing these 2 muscles first:
– Serratus anterior
– Serratus posterior superior
Let me know if there is no relief with this. ( You could possibly have some nerve referral pain as well, but let’s see how we go with releasing some of your tight muscles first)
I have pain in the same place i have poor posture do to the whole left side of my body being 2cm shorter. I have a heal raise but my posture isnt good… If i stand up straight i feel like I will fall backwards. I need help i have had knee ops aswell recently(in last 9months). Any advice would be gratefully received.
What is causing your left side to be 2cm shorter? Or were you born with shorter leg bones?
Thanks for the detailed help Mark. I’m going to bookmark this to use whenever I get a kink in my shoulder blade (rhomboid?).
Sounds like a good plan, John!
This is a great website! I am sitting in front of my laptop more than 8 hours per day and I have been practicing bad posture. It is a good idea to start with fixing the workstation and sitting posture. May I know how often should I practice step 3 until step 10?
Practice them every day until the symptoms are gone :)
Mark, great article. I have had on and off shoulder blade dull pain. Currently dealing with my right side. I would typically work through it until it just went away. When it occurs, driving and certain other sitting activities would be where it would aggravate the most. I have just recently gone to a chiropractor for the first time (I am 47) and x-rays do show my posture is off. Left shoulder is higher than right, among other things. So getting corrections and some stretch/exercises to better my posture. I still haven’t gotten relief from this pain and some nights it is affecting my sleep. Heat helps it the best, but eager to start some of your exercises above. One question I have is on weightlifting/exercising, which I do 5 times a week. My regime isn’t crazy and more maintenance of weight vs. building. However, I want to know if this is normal…prior to my shoulder blade pain coming back (about 2 weeks ago now), I was doing dips (chest exercise) to the tune of 25 per set – 4 sets when I was on chest/upper body- roughly twice a week. Loved the feeling of strength, etc… that comes with isometrics more than physical bench pressing. When my shoulder pain came back I went the chiropractor who used a activator tool on my chest (right side), likely to loosen muscles that might be tightening up the shoulder blade. Long story short (sorry – but getting to the point), my right side has in less than two weeks has gone completely weak. Not able to do any dips (not one). I thought it might of been due to the activator tool, but now I am thinking due to the shoulder blade pain and all the adjustments/attention on it, there might be blood flow disruption to the other muscle in that region. Does this seem normal? When I have had this pain before, it was annoying, but never affected my workouts. The only difference now is I am going through chiro visits to adjust things. I am keeping to my workout schedule, but when I do chest/upperbody, I am bringing the weights down to a low lever and trying to build back up. Just find it strange to lose so much strength so quickly, so curious if other patients of yours have had the same issues. Sorry for the long winded note, but wanted to put some context around my issue. I will be using your stretching exercises above and keep with the Chiropractor on posture as I do believe that is the reason for my pain. Just hate going backwards on strength, but if it is part of the healing process, then it is what it is.
As I have not assessed you personally, I am going to assume a few things and offer you the best explanation that I can give.
When there have been adjustments to your posture, the body has to become familiar with this new position.
Muscles which have been used to a certain position are now in a completely different position (even though it may only be a subtle change in position). Also, you may have been using other muscles as compensation in your former posture, and now have to learn to use the correct ones.
My recommendation: Continue with your chiropractor and posture exercises. Your right side should start to get used to the new position and the ability to activate your strength should follow.
Let me know how it goes.
I am Krishnendra. I regularly do body-weight as well as weight training exercise at home. Some days before in the morning I felt pain in the left shoulder blade. I couldn’t even turn my head towards the left & right direction as I was feeling pain tremendously at a single point of left shoulder blade. I did not perform any exercise for the last 4 days due to that pain. But still now whenever I want to take deep breath or try to move my hand or shoulder I am feeling pain in a particular point of my left shoulder blade. What should I do now? Is this is a muscle pull or something more serious? As I left exercise I am feeling weak also. Please suggest some remedies.
Hi Mark. I’m Emily and 30 years old, I have been working in a desk based environment for roughly 7 years plus now and over the last few month I have had pains in the centre of my shoulder blades and also in the right rib cage area when sleeping. It has gotten worse as the weeks have gone by to where my sleep is almost non existent. I tried yoga to see if that stretched the muscles but that made the pain a whole lot worse! I will be working today and after reading your websites I will adjust my work station as per your demonstrations. Pain killers etc have also not done the trick. Do you have any more advice Mark? Kind regards.
Emily from to UK
Hey there Emily,
Sometimes if your stretch certain painful structures, it can actually make it worse.
Is the pain in the middle of your actual shoulder blade, or is it between the shoulder blades?
How can i judge the cause of the pain i am suffering from, is it from muscle spasm o nerve injury??
Nerve pain usually has signs such as numbness and tingling.
A quick scan to your spine can determine if you have any major nerve impingement.
This is Avinash. I have been suffering from pain for almost 5 years which in left scapula. I feel this pain everytime. Please help me to get rid of this problem.
I love the website. I am 31 years old and have had significant scapular pain since age 17. I have never been able to get it under control. The pain seems to get even worse as I age. I have been to physical therapy several times over the years and that never helps. Everyone has always recommended shoulder, scapular, etc strengthening exercises and scapular retraction exercises. These exercises seems to aggravate my scapular pain and make it feel inflamed and even worse, and definitely not better by any means. Based on the information that these exercises make it worse, do you think it is posture related or another issue?
Thanks for the great website and to your commitment to help individuals all over the world (I’m in the US)!
I was diagnosed with Degenerative Joint Disease. When I described my pain to the Neurologist (neck stiffness and pain, pain in left scapula and pain in the lower back) he said this was most likely due to a a pinched nerve. My question is whether the exercises above will work for a “pinched nerve” as well as muscles?
Thanks for the kind words :)
The exercises as mentioned in the post are more for muscular pain.
If you have nerve pain, you will have to focus on freeing up the nerve.
Have you been given nerve specific exercises?
Hi, I have shoulder bursitis for more than year. The pain will start coming if I do more physical activities like playing badminton, throwing cricket ball above right hand shoulder. My right hand shoulder is a little bit lower than left one.I tried resting for a long period. But pain coming back after I do exercises above shoulder. I already had ultrasound and confirmed that its bursitis.Could you please help me to get rid of this shoulder pain. Is there any exercises or treatment for this.
I have a slight curve in my spine…Im waking up with mid back pain,,,What is a helpful stretch too get my spine too straighten and less pain?thx
Try out this simple back stretch:
Hope it helps.
Hello Mr. Wong, I have a pinch/pain in my left scapula, it increases when im sitting in my desk and when doing lateral raises at the gym. The pain began a year ago when I was “bad-doing” some pushups (hands in a wrong position) the pain came along with a low back pain. Do you think they are related? I still have some low back pain specially when I wake up. Any advise would be very very apreciated.
There are several muscles in the shoulder blade region that also have connections in the lower back. So, it is quite likely that these 2 pains are linked in one way or another.
Can you tell me exactly where you have your lower back pain?
I am 30 years old with a 1 year old that I co-sleep with. I’ve been having back pain in my shoulders and I can feel my arm muscles are sore too. When I sleep, I have to sleep on my back because if I sleep on my side, it causes tingling in my hands. Any ideas as what I can do to help?
Tingling in the hands in a sign of a nerve issue.
Is the tingling in mainly your pinky and ring fingers? Or is it the whole hand?
Hi Mark, I am 59 years & have been having pain in right shoulder blade area, thoracic vertebrae area. If I use my right arm to do too much like cleaning, gardening my shoulder muscles get sore & hurt, if I keep on with chores it eventually will lead to bad headache & even pain in my right arm which will last for days. At this point I apply heat & stop all housework. My left side is much stronger. Do u think this is a posture problem?
Although I have not assessed you in person, what you describe is very common issue with people with postural problems.
Go in front of a mirror. Stand normally. Are you shoulders level? Sometimes when you have uneven shoulders, it may lead to shoulder blade/thoracic pain (even up into the neck).
These exercises on this article will definitely help with your pain, however, I think you will need to address the underlying postural issue.
Let me know if you need more help!
Hello Mr. Wong. I don’t have shoulder blade pain, but my shoulders are noticeably uneven. Is there any exercises you would recommend for uneven shoulders?
There are most definitely exercises you can do to fix uneven shoulders.
But to show you which ones to do, I need to know what exactly is uneven about your shoulders?
Is one higher than the other? More forward?
My left shoulder is higher than my right. These are my photos:
I had a look at your photos and it definitely shows that your left shoulder is higher. Your torso also seems to gliding to the left side as well.
There’s a lot more going on in terms of your posture, but perhaps you can try these out first.
1. Side planks with the left side towards the ground – Why? You are bending to the right side at the waist crease.
2. Stretch the Right side of your body – Why? Since you are bending to the right, you are likely pretty tight there as well. (Exercise #6 at https://posturedirect.com/17-exercises-to-improve-your-thoracic-spine/)
3. When you are sitting down, try to have even weight distributing on both buttocks. I have a feeling you are probably leaning/favouring one side more.
4. Fix your sway back posture: https://posturedirect.com/how-to-fix-sway-back-posture/
Start off with those. And let me know how it goes!
Thanks Mark! I really appreciate you taking the time to look at my photos and giving me advice. I will definitely let you know how it goes.
Great website. I have cervical radiculapthy causing neck, shoulder and upper back pain. Can I do all these stretches ?
Particularly the stretch no. 4 which has head bending down forward ?
You can do all the exercises.
Just pay attention to your body’s response to doing them. All exercises should be gentle and pain-free.
If there is any discomfort/reproduction of any symptoms, you will need to modify the exercises so that it is comfortable.
Will posture correction brace do the same as postural taping ?
Provided that it is fitted correctly.
Hi A. Shivani,
Have you tried releasing the area with a massage ball? That usually should reduce some of your pain quickly.
Hi mark, i have seen your diagram on one of the comments above, i’m a game, an addicted one. Everyday i just sit on my office chair on home and pun my ipad on a table that is too low. I’m suffering shoulder and neck pains for a week. I think the reason is slouching and looking down to the ipad for a long period of time. And i think the part that is painful in my shoulder is on the supraspinatus i think? Based on your diagram on a previous comment. Can you advice me some things to improve my posture and some exercises that i can do to make sure my muscles in my neck and back are healthy. Thankyou in advance.
Gamer*(in the first sentence)
Also it is only one sided, on my right shoulder and neck only
Quite a common problem you have!
For some general exercises for posture, Have a look at my posture morning routine :https://posturedirect.com/my-posture-morning-routine/
I would concentrate on steps 1,2,5 & 9.
For a clearer picture of what good posture is, check this post: https://posturedirect.com/sitting-posture/
Hope this helps!
What exercises have you tried so far?
Mark my pain is more over my right scapula (not between blades) and sometimes quite lateral.
Do you think this is still postural related?
Do you also implicate posture even though pain is one sided?
If you have pain on the actual shoulder blade, then you probably have some sort of rotator cuff +/- deltoid muscle issue.
Posture definitely affects how the shoulder functions/moves. Remember that you have to maintain good posture whilst sitting, lifting, carrying, exercising etc otherwise it puts your muscles at a higher risk of injury.
Hi Mark, I started to experience this shoulder blade muscle pain yesterday. I’ve had it in the past few times and had physio as treatment.
Would you advise me to start doing these exercises right away or should I be resting?
Providing that you pain is not due to something more serious like heart, lung or nerve issues etc, then is it perfectly fine to start these exercises.
I would perform them gently and ease into to make sure that you do not exacerbate your symptoms. They should all feel comfortable.
I have a severe pain in my back shoulder blade(left side) as suggested by a doctor have gone under physiotherapy and lots of medicines but no results and its been over 2 years now I’m experiencing this pain, I have no trust in medicines anymore, please suggest best course of action to get rid of this permanently, This pain causing me problem in sitting and sometimes sleeping as well , would be glad if i get some suggestion on this.
Since sitting is your main issue, you will need to determine what’s going on with your sitting posture.
Do you have rounded shoulders? This is a common cause of shoulder blade pain.
You could also be tilted/rotated to one side causing more stress to the left side.
If the issue is in front of a computer screen, have you set up your workstation properly? Eg. mouse/keyboard placement.