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I got some pain between the shoulder blade and spinal for a week now. It's not really a strong pain, but it really bothers me over time. My doctor did feel my muscles there and said its a muscle tension (from my own research I'm pretty sure the muscle is called trapezius). Doc also said I should ask the trainer at my gym for some advice, because he thinks the trainer has more knowledge about that. I asked the trainer, but he just said straight into my face that there's nothing I could do except for just wait till the tension releases itself (which I don't believe).

Does anyone know any way to relieve this tension, maybe from own experience? Perhaps some stretching or something?

  • I have some ideas about what could be causing it. Just to confirm; do you work out at all? What does your workout regimen look like? Do you have a program? – Alec Aug 2 '18 at 13:26
  • @Alec Yes I work out since February. Never had any issues before I changed my program about 2 weeks ago. It consists of two days. Day 1 (Mo+Th): Lat Pulldown, Bend Over Barbell Row, Bench Press, Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Lateral Raise. Day 2 (Tu+Fr): Leg Press, Back Extension, Seated Leg Curls, Leg Extensions, Calf Raise, Crunches. From what I think, I'm doing all the exercises right. I watched a lot of videos on how to perfom these, what I can see in the mirror looks right to me and my training partner says everything is fine aswell. I do 3 sets of 12 reps per exercise. – Suimon Aug 2 '18 at 13:32
  • Do you stretch at all before or after? – Alec Aug 2 '18 at 15:40
  • Just to let you in on my suspicion: It sounds like you have tight chest muscles. They pull your shoulders forward, and this in turn pulls on your back muscles. The solution in this case would be to stretch your chest muscles, and focus more on strengthening your upper back. – Alec Aug 2 '18 at 15:51
  • Is there anything in this related to fitness, other than you asked the trainer at your gym? This really sounds more like a "diagnose my pain" type of question than anything. – JohnP Aug 2 '18 at 20:13
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I've recovered from various long-term muscle injuries myself using trigger-point massage in the affected and related areas causing the pain, sports massage to break down muscle scaring, stretching, and epsom salt baths before bed (high in magnesium which regulates calcium/magnesium imbalances often causing cramps and aches in various parts of the body - often the magnesium is deficient). Surprisingly, cold showers also help with muscle recovery, sleep, waking up, healing, boosting the immune system - but never take them before exercise, stretching, or massage.

Trigger Point Massage is a "good pain" type of massage that targets complex muscle knots often the size of a pea and often located separate from the region of pain yet exacerbating it when massage. These are caused by injuries or repetitive stress injuries through various actives with poor posture of excessive unhealthy effort without proper form or recovery. A book called The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Claire Davies explains this further. I recommend getting a decent massage cane, double lacrosse ball, and foam roller. These can all aid in proper self massage of the shoulders, back, and neck which all could be contributing to the shoulder pain. Massage activity should utilize gravity by laying on the foam roller or lacrosse balls and moving slow and deep on and around the affected areas - getting the neck, shoulders, back, and in between the shoulder blades with the lacrosse balls. Then massage the deeper hard to reach areas of the back and shoulders with the massage cane while sitting and relaxed. You can also massage with the lacrosse balls up against a wall (sometimes works a lot better than the ground), go as deep as you can handle while the pain is solid in the effort but not unbearable and ridiculous. Focus particularly on any areas referencing exasperated pain in between your shoulder blades. A dozen or several dozen repetitions should suffice each day.

As for Sports Massage, these same tools above can be used, however, unlike Trigger Point Massage, this technique is focused on breaking down stiff crusty muscle scaring under the skin that definitely required an injury to form. It's also a good pain type of massage that provides relief and greater flexibility if muscle scaring is indeed the case. The pain will be exacerbated by massaging the exact area of pain, and you will feel pretty intense stiffness. As for the massage technique, it is similar to the trigger point therapy above but focus much more on the actual area of pain and loosening up stiff muscle tissue. The pain may actually be higher in this type but you should be getting relief each day if done right. A dozen or several dozen deep slow massages should work too. From my experience, scar tissue massage takes more effort than trigger point massage - the stiffness is higher and the pain is a bit more intense but the relief is real and I went from not being able to run for months to now being able to run pain free for almost a decade after resolving a little scar tissue that would pinch every-time I ran - months of not recovering after a fall.

NOTE: any self applied massage is done at your own risk. If you are truly unsure of your injury, seek a medical evaluation however I recommended staying away from painkillers unless the pain is absolutely unbearable because they are only masking the issue, not solving it. Most cases of non serious injuries and mere knots or scaring can be solved with these massage techniques - relief should happen slowly over a period over a week or month. Some cases may even find relief the same day which is encouraging to continue as long as necessary to recover - which may still be weeks to further prevent the pain from coming back.

As for stretching, practicing flexibility focused yoga courses will improve your flexibility tremendously. A lot of great apps exist out there, but I use Yoga Studio because you can customize your own workout videos after you discover which poses help you most. Also practice slow breathing and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching which is essentially applying some muscle squeezing for a few seconds into your stretch, then releasing further. Breathing for at-least 4 seconds on the inhale and exhale will boost flexibility, reduce stress, and speed up results over time. Pain should be a moderate balance between effort and relaxation - low/medium pain, not high but also felt effort. PNF stretching helped me release my own stiff upper back and shoulders, now I can actually clasp my hands behind my upper-back both ways (one arm tossed behind its shoulder, the other behind the hip, fingers hooked together, shoulders stretched). PNF allows those stretches that even tons of stretching alone wouldn't allow. In a sense, this technique also breaks down knots in the muscles, massaging them for a few seconds mid-stretch. Yoga not only increases your performance in many exercises but provides a pretty significant calm self control/higher tolerance for stress effect over time that is long lasting.

  • Thanks for your very detailed answer! I'm already doing massages with like these foam roles and balls, which is pretty helpful I feel. The pain is absolutly bareable, maybe a 2-3 out of 10, so no worries about pain medicine. But still, obviously I wanna get rid of it. I'm doing some stretches for my chest and stuff already (as Alec already pointed out in a comment above), since I always sit down bent over, which I now try not to do anymore. I'm definitly trying Yoga and some more stretching from now on. My Doc said if the tension doesn't go away I should come back to get some physical therapy. – Suimon Aug 3 '18 at 6:18

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