9 out of 10 new clients, when asked what their main complaint is, will tell me, “pain between the shoulder blades”. In our modern world stress has become so prevalent that it feels normal. How do you change that? First I will tell you what muscle is the culprit. Then I will give you some simple exercises to identify and rid yourself of the learned behavior causing your pain.

The pain is coming from a muscle that starts at the first four vertebra of the neck and wraps around the inside corner of the shoulder blades. This muscle’s main purpose is to raise your shoulder blades. Unfortunately most people forget to lower their shoulders once they’ve raised them which then over stresses that muscle and results in pain. The pain is often felt as a dull ache at the upper, inside corner of the shoulder blades and sometimes in the neck as well. It is also sometimes a burning pain and can be debilitating. What can you do about your pain?

If you already have pain treat it by icing the area. I know that heat feels better but the main idea is to take the swelling down and ice will do that as well as numb the pain while heat will promote the swelling and actually irritate the area which is a result you do not want. For a cold pack you can get a Ziploc baggy and fill it with ice, crushed is best, then wrap the baggy in a towel or blanket and apply the ice to the pain for 20 minutes and take it off for 20 minutes and then repeat as often as you can for pain relief. I suggest buying an ice pack at your local drugstore or grocery as those ice packs are filled with a liquid that freezes at a higher temperature than water and you can leave it on for longer without fear of damaging your tissues although you must still wrap the ice pack in a towel. It usually only takes a day or so for the ice to work it’s magic and you should be feeling better quickly. Remember that the more often you ice the area the faster you will feel relief! After 3 days, if you really feel you can’t do without heat, you can alternate heat with cold making sure to end with ice. Taking an anti inflammatory such as ibuprofen or naprosyn will help with the swelling too.

What can you do to prevent your pain? Being proactive is an excellent wellness tool to actually put you more in control of your pain and more in touch with your body. There is a simple biofeedback exercise you can learn to help. Biofeedback is a quick and easy way to put you back in touch with your body. Over time we have all become so used to stress and tension that it now feels normal. We can no longer distinguish between our normal state of relaxation and wellness and our abnormal state of high tension until we actually feel the result of that tension as pain. The following biofeedback exercise will put you back in control of your shoulders and the stress you carry there.

Close your eyes so you can really focus on how you are feeling. Pull your shoulders up towards your ears and hold them there very tightly. Focus in on the feeling of tension, really feel the tense feeling. Next start to slowly let that tension leak out of your shoulders and drop them while focusing tightly on the feeling of release. When your shoulders are down and relaxed and your arms feel longer and looser focus on the feeling of relaxation. This exercise will do several things for you. Doing the exercise itself will relax your shoulders but most important it will teach you what your shoulders feel like when they are tense. How can you relax them if you can’t recognize they are tense? Just as important it will teach you what it feels like to release the tension. It is no good to know your shoulders are tense if you don’t know how to release the tension. Lastly, the exercise will teach you what your shoulders feel like when they are relaxed and the tension is gone. Do this exercise 2-3 times per day or more and you will get control of your pain instead of your pain controlling you! To help you remember, set your watch or computer alarm or anything else you have to remind you to do this exercise. Practice is the key here so set yourself up for success and conquer that pain!

The author is Nancy Olson, L.C.M.T. She has lived in Aurora, Colorado for 37 years & is 53 years old, (and loving it). She has been practicing massage therapy in Aurora for 12 years & loves her work. Please visit her website at for a gift certificate for $10 off your first massage & for more information.

Author's Bio: 

The author of this article is Nancy Olson, L.C.M.T. She lives in Aurora, Co with her husband of 31 years and her 4 pug dogs. She has been doing massage in Aurora for 12 years and loves her work. She has just turned 53 and is loving it! Visit her website at for a gift certificate which can be used for $10 off your first massage.