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Michael Kreer 11-18-2008 12:06 PM

Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
Hi all, first time posting but before I get into my back problem let me tell you a little about myself. I started cross fit about 6 months ago and do it Mon thru Fri. I can say at the age of 47 and being a retired Navy guy (25 years served) this is the best shape I have been in quite a while. However, for some reason the muscle between my shoulder blades has been killing me. I have rested it, had stimulus therpy but after a couple of workouts it starts to bother me again. If anyone has remedy or clue on what to do please advise. Thanks Mike:thanx:

Patrick Haskell 11-18-2008 02:42 PM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
If you are reasonably sure it's muscular, grab two tennis balls, throw them in a sock and lie down on them, working them around on the knots until you want to cry for your mother. Continue until you have a soothing vision of her answering your cries.

In all seriousness, Kelly Starrett had an excellent post on performing SMR on the trapezius and scapula a while back on the CFSF blog (wfs), but I can't get onto blogspot from work to link the exact post for you.

Melissa Urban 11-18-2008 02:44 PM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
I used to get a lot of shoulder blade area muscle pain after workouts, specifically those that challenge those small stabilizing muscles (like ring dips, L-sits, etc.). I started to foam roll that area after every workout, and the pain went away and hasn't come back. It's a pretty cheap piece of equipment, doesn't take that much time and can make a huge difference in keeping your muscles from getting all bunched up and stuck together.

Jon Gilson at Again Faster has a great video tutorial series on foam rolling (WFS). The link is for Part 1, but there's a Part 2 on the site as well.

Also, my advice won't make you cry as much as Haskell's advice. (I'm probably just a nicer person.)

Patrick Haskell 11-18-2008 06:34 PM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting

Originally Posted by Melissa Byers (Post 449748)
Also, my advice won't make you cry as much as Haskell's advice. (I'm probably just a nicer person.)


While Evil B**** Tuesdays were ostensibly named after Kelly and Linda, you know damn well you were the true inspiration, Byers.

FWIW, I'll use the foam roller on the ordinary tweaks, but sometimes, you just need to get right into the hurt and hurt it some more. Here's the link (wfs). Enjoy.

Jeff S Johnson 11-18-2008 10:01 PM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
Unfortunately, I have a LOT of experience on this one, dating back to Basic Training six years ago (at 29 years old). Then, my problem spot was just below the shoulder blade and to the right of my spine. Chiropractic, etc helped, but only very temporarily. Heavy ruck marches resulted in what felt like someone jabbing a knife into my back at that spot and twisting it.

I just ignored/lived with it until about a year ago. Again, chiropractic helped, but only for a few days at a time. Two months of 2-3 visits per week to a physical therapist helped, sorta. Successfully rid me of the spot below the scapula, but mostly just moved things upward. Therapy mostly consisted of ultrasound heat, deep (really deep) tissue massage, stretching, kinesio tape and ridiculous "strength-building" exercises on machines.

The three different PT's I saw basically threw up their hands and said "I dunno why this isn't working."

Mentioned the issue to my primary care physician and without hesitation, she said "have you tried acupuncture? If not, try it. I bet it works for you."

There is no acupuncturist in my town, so I took things into my own, not with needles! Bought the firmest foam roller available from ETS and got a tennis ball. Quickly found that the tennis ball was not firm enough. A "indestructable" hard rubber balls my dogs had was ideal. When I lose it (frequently), a baseball works. Put it between my back and the wall and go to town. At times it hurts enough to damn near take my breath away. But it always feels better after I'm done. Over several weeks, I've reduced the "knots" (restrictions) - I have about five - in my trap dramatically.

Most likely, what you've got going there is a restriction/trigger point. The area you're describing is one of the major trigger points in the trapezius muscle. Foam rolling and rolling with the ball serve to release the trigger point and encourage normal bloodflow.

I found an acupuncturist/chiropractor who is a customer of mine. We've done two acupuncture sessions and I'm very encouraged by the results. He also GAVE me an e-stim/ultrasound machine. It appears to be about 30-40 years old, but works perfectly. Forget the PT's, I'm fixing this myself!

All of that said, you should go get a professional opinion before you do too much on your own. If it's simply a restriction/trigger point, rolling can't hurt and very likely will help a great deal. For my problem, I virtually never notice it while working out. It bothers me just getting out of bed, sitting at the computer, walking around, etc.

Emil Berengut 11-18-2008 10:21 PM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
common problem, often due to vertebral structural issues caused by poor posture with excessive kyphosis and head forward . overdeveloped, tight pecs and lats unbalanced with lengthened weak rhomboids, paraspinals and lower/mid traps and often weak external rotators of the shoulder. it often causes one or more of the thoracic vertebra to rotate and place pressure onto the nerve twigs that exit by the intervertebral foramina. the constant pressure, irritation causes chronic muscle spasms in the affected area. the solution: 1. address the symptoms-massage, MFR, and mobilization of the bony structures. 2. FIX THE POSTURE. you must stretch religiously, watch the head tipping forward like a vulture. you must also strengthen the muscles I mentioned. crossfit can exacerbate symptoms because many exercises promote the posture I mentioned. acupuncture, modalities like TENS etc address the symptoms only, do nothing to address the cause and prevent further injuries. A physical therapist that is certified in sports and orthopedics should be able to help you. you can find one at the APTA website(WFS).

Jeff S Johnson 11-19-2008 08:22 AM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
Thanks Emil. That makes a lot of sense. I checked the site you recommended and there's a new guy in town with specialties in sports and orthopedics. Going to call and make an appointment.

Totally agree about posture. Mine sucks and is made much, much worse by the fact that I publish an internet site for a living and spend hours upon hours in front of the computer.

John Crocker 11-24-2008 03:13 PM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
Good post Emil, that is exactly what I was going to write. I think looking into physical therapy and chiropractic therapy is only a temporary solution to the symptom but does not address the actual cause. I always get huge knots inbetween my shoulder blades and it's because my chest is pulling my shoulders forward and it puts strain on my back muscles. Work on posture and balancing out the muscle strength between your chest and back. You might have to do some extra lifting before or after a WOD but it will be worth it in the end. Good luck.

Wade Smith 11-24-2008 04:45 PM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
I had a similar tightness recently. What helped me is exactly what Melissa suggested: Foamrolling. Give yourself the biggest tightest bear hug imaginable while you foam roll up your spine. Not only will you self-massage the tight muscle (which would be hard to reach without the bearhug), but you'll give yourself a chiropractic adjustment of just about every vertebrae in your back if you do it right.

Disclaimer: Others have posted before to avoid foam rolling the spine. It works great for me. Try it and see.

Donald Lee 11-24-2008 09:37 PM

Re: Muscle between shoulder blades hurting
You don't foam roll the spine. You foam roll the muscles adjacent to the spine. Why would you foam roll a bone?

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