Shoulder blade pain is VERY common. Did you know that almost HALF (up to 47%) of adults will experience shoulder pain in their lifetime? While it seems like a huge number of people, when you understand the causes of pain in the shoulder, it starts to make a lot of sense.
As you understand the root causes of shoulder pain, you can protect yourself and start undoing the damage that is causing the pain and lower your risk of injury. Our goal is to show you how your posture can actually lead to shoulder blade pain. And, then we want to help you unglue those positions to get fast relief and keep your shoulder protected naturally.
What Is The Shoulder Blade
The shoulder blade is also called scapula. The word “scapula” comes from Latin and means “shoulder blade.” The shoulder blade includes the uppermost bones of the back. It is located between the neck and spine, and extend from the scapula to the rib cage.
The shoulder blade can be used to help with posture, balance, and breathing. The shoulder blade also create a platform for muscles to attach to, and provide stability for movements such as throwing or pushing.
The shoulder blades also protect internal organs from injury when we are bending over or lifting heavy objects. Lastly, the shoulder blades help keep our posture straight by balancing out our rib cage so that it doesn’t protrude too far outwards.
Cause of Shoulder Blade Pain
Let’s start with the most basic problem. Almost everyone rounds their shoulders. They do it while looking at their phones and tablets. They do it while sitting at a desk. They do it while reading. They do it while driving a car. We hold this unnatural position for hours a day. It tightens the chest and muscles in the shoulder, while weakening the back. As the years go by, we start to harden into this unnatural position.
This unnatural postural distortion (you can see it everywhere, just look around you…) creates enormous tension in the shoulders, including the muscles around the shoulder blade. Eventually, one of two things will happen…
- This postural distortion pulls the shoulder joint out of whack for a long time and eventually leads to chronic shoulder pain (and possibly chest pain too). It will develop slowly, but eventually it will get so bad that you cannot ignore it. And, severe pain just will not go away on its own.
- You will move (through sports or life) in a range of motion that your tight shoulders and chest/ weak back cannot support and the shoulder has a high risk of injury. Obviously, this will also lead to chronic shoulder blade pain and a classically weak and unstable shoulder.
Treatment of Shoulder Blade Pain
Here’s the point: We want to undo this poor posture to relieve pain fast. If you don’t properly rehab the shoulder and fix this basic postural distortion, you are in trouble and heading directly toward shoulder blade pain or another type of serious shoulder injury.
Understanding this basic postural distortion would go a long way to helping you understand how you must fix this… (hint: it’s not pain relievers, rest and ice) Instead, research has convincingly shown that shoulder rehab is the most effective way to heal a shoulder injury and eliminate chronic shoulder blade pain.
Why? A high quality rehab program can help you fix the muscle imbalances and postural distortions that cause shoulder blade pain and dramatically improve strength, stability and healthy range of motion, which significantly reduces the risk of muscle strain. (American Journal of Physiology, Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, Journal of Athletic Training, etc.)
Once you fix this basic postural distortion and your chest, shoulder blades and back are in good synergistic balance in terms of flexibility and strength, it will take all the tension off the shoulder and shoulder blade pain will stop. Plus, you will also be protecting your shoulders naturally from re-injury!
One important note: You should always get your shoulder checked out by a medical professional anytime you have shoulder pain. You want to rule out a more serious shoulder injury that might require surgery. There are many reasons why someone might need immediate medical attention and/or surgery on their shoulder blade, including:
- Gross Instability
The best thing to do is get an x-ray or other imaging (MRI, etc) and then get professional medical advice on whether you can follow an excellent shoulder rehab program (either by a physical therapist or a good at home shoulder rehab program) OR if your shoulder needs surgery to heal and recover.
You Can Relieve Shoulder Blade Pain
One last point that’s super important… we always suggest being patient, since poor posture in the shoulder blade took years (or decades) to develop. So, shoulder pain will not go away in a few days. But, a few weeks of consistent work can do wonders to relieve severe shoulder pain!!
As you start to feel some relief, just keep going and continue to challenge your shoulders to do more and more, but always in a gentle and safe way, so you can avoid any regressions.
We highly recommend you get started on a high quality shoulder rehab program (you can check out ours below…) as soon as possible, or start a high quality physical therapy program. Rehabilitating your shoulders is the best way to eliminate severe shoulder blade pain and protect yourself from future muscle strain and injury, naturally.