Persistent pain between the shoulder pains, or interscapular pain, may arise from a number of varying causes. The scapula is the bone that connects the humerus (upper arm bone) with the clavicle (collar bone) on either side of the body. The intrinsic muscles of the scapula include the subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus, and infraspinatus, all of which make up the rotator cuff. The major muscles surrounding the scapula that make up the interscapular region include the rhomboids, trapezius, and levator scapulae.
The rhomboids are two quadrate-shaped muscles that originate from the lower cervical vertebrae and upper thoracic vertebrae and attach to the medial border of the scapula. The rhomboids work to retract and rotate the scapula downwards. The trapezius muscle extend from the occipital bone of the skull to the lower thoracic vertebrae and attach to the scapular spine. Its action is to elevate and rotate the scapula upwards. Likewise, the levator scapulae run from the upper cervical vertebrae to the superior portion of the medial border of the scapula and works to elevate the shoulder blades.
One of the common causes of interscapular pain may be due to a muscle strain of one of the muscles described above from poor posture, lifting, or twisting motions from activities such as golf or tennis. Other causes may include trauma such as dislocations or rotator cuff tears, cervical or thoracic herniation, arthritis, heart conditions, cancer, gallbladder disease, scoliosis, or gastroesophageal acid reflux.
Treatment begins by identifying possible underlying causes contributing to the pain between the shoulder blades. Poor posture occurs when the head is forward and shoulders are rounded. This stretches the rhomboid muscles excessively and causes the muscle to weaken. Correcting poor posture by taking frequent breaks from sitting, bringing your shoulders down and away from the ears, as well as evenly distributing your body weight to all sides may help relieve upper back soreness.
Active release, moist heat therapy, and intramuscular stimulation with a physiotherapist are effective ways to release tension in the back muscles.
Consult a physician or specialist to assess for gastrointestinal, pulmonary, and cardiac-related conditions as they may cause referred pain in the upper back region.
Watch the following videos below on how to stretch and strengthen key muscles in the shoulder region:
Why is it important to include balance training in your regular exercise program?
Balance is needed for just about everything you do on a daily basis from carrying groceries to putting on your shoes. Balance training involves strengthening exercises that target your entire body, especially the core. This not only reduces the risk of injury, but may improve motor coordination (Oliveira et al., 2017). At least 3 days of balance training per week is recommended for inactive and active older adults (> 65 yr). Activities such as pilates, yoga, tai chi, dance, or brisk walking are suitable for improving one’s balance. Implements such as bosu balls, balance boards, or foam pads can be used to add variety to your exercises.
Try the Following Exercises Below:
a.Stand in front of a box with a tall posture
b.Step up with one leg, then bring the other leg up so that both feet are on the box
c.Step down one leg at a time and repeat 10 times for each leg
d.Increase the difficulty by using a taller box or increase your step up pace
2) One Legged Squat
a.Stand with a tall posture
b.Bend your right knee and lift your right foot off the floor
c.Keep your chest upright and arms extended to the front, slowly lower your body to the floor by pushing your hips back and down
d.Slowly push up to the starting position and switch feet
e.Remember to keep your knee in line with your second toe as you squat
f.Repeat 10 times on each leg
3) Single Leg Dead Lift
a.Stand on your right foot, enagage the core, and slowly bend forward at the hips
b.Reach towards the floor with the left hand and lift the left leg straight behind you
c.Hold for 1-2 seconds and squeeze your butt muscles as your return to the starting position
d.Switch sides and repeat 10 times on each leg
e.Optionally: hold a light dumbbell in one hand as you reach toward the floor
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