Why are you Massaging my Front Shoulder Area when its my Back that’s Bothering Me?
One of the most consistent complaints from clients is that the area between their shoulder blades is really bothering them. This is a common spot for stress to be carried. Also, with so many people spending a lot of time sitting at a desk working on the computer or riding in a car, our posture can be affected in a way that also stresses the area between the shoulder blades. Sleeping on our side, which can also force a shoulder to round, can also contribute to this discomfort. This is why we massage for back pain in the shoulders.
How does the Front Shoulder Area get Involved?
In our body, we have muscle pairs. The set of muscles which rolls our shoulders forward [rounding our shoulders] is called the pectoral muscles [or pecs for short]. They are found in the front shoulder area, and run from the sternum to the collar bone and over to the top of the arm. It is paired with the muscles on the back which run from the spine to the vertebral border of the shoulder blades [rhomboids]. These muscles undo the shoulder rolling that the pecs do. When we spend a lot of time with our shoulders rounded, the pecs get used to being short and tight and the muscles between our shoulder blades get over stretched and start complaining. Its like a tug of war going on with your shoulders. The pecs are winning [the shoulders are rounded towards the front] and the rhomboids are hanging on for dear life. This can result in feeling pain in the area between the shoulder blades.
Strategies for Massage for Back Pain
We can and do work the area between the shoulder blades [rhomboids etc]. This can reduce some of the pain felt in that area. But unless we also work the front pec muscles, the problem will not be completely taken care of. The rhomboids are over worked in response to the short tight pecs. Until we open up the front area and massage to relax and lengthen those muscles, the rhomboids may always complain.
Additional Ideas for In Between Office Visits – Using a Spine Pillow
Some people try to adjust their posture by pulling back their shoulders in the attempt to have ‘better posture.’ But when we use muscles to pull back our shoulders, we overwork the very muscles that are tired in the first place. An easier approach is to use a spine pillow. You can use a rolled up yoga mat or a foam roller, if you have them, or just fold a bath towel up into a rectangular shape that is about 5 or 6 inches across and about the same thickness. The length doesn’t matter as much. Lay the rolled up towel [or mat or roller] on your bed [if it isn’t too soft] or on a soft part of the floor. Lay on top of this ‘spine pillow’ face up. The pillow should be between you and the bed. Your spine should be supported and your shoulders should drop towards the surface of the bed. Gravity will pull the shoulders back and let those tired muscles in between your shoulder blades relax. Make sure your ‘spine pillow’ is not wider than 5 or 6 inches or your shoulders won’t have the room they need to drop towards the bed. Laying like this should give you a backward arch stretch in your back and can be done every day for about 10 minutes. This is a good way to undo some of the time spent at the computer and massage for back pain!