Adventures of a Bodywork Bloodhound presents:
That Spot Next to Your Shoulder Blade That You Just Can’t Reach
I have recently been working with folks coming in with pain patterns next to the shoulder blade in the upper back. You know, that spot that you get that you just can’t reach. After researching what stretches might be good for this pattern, I saw that more than the muscles of the upper back are involved. The Bodywork Bloodhound was on the case, with my listening hands exploring all the possibilities.
First, the caper: There it goes again, that spot on your back just pulsing with pain. Located right next to the edge of your shoulder blade near the
middle of your back, you try everything to alleviate this pain. You turn this way and that, stretch your arms, lean against door frames, ask your best friend to dig their elbow into your back, all to no avail. Then you come panting into my office asking, please, help me!
“Your rhomboid trigger points are ignited,” I say. Huh? You say. Here it is, but this is the result not the beginning. I will explain. The rhomboid is a beautiful Christmas tree shaped muscle that runs from your spine to your vertebrae at a diagonal. This muscle is responsible for The Row, or the exercise that pulls your shoulder blades together when you pull to oars as if you are in a boat. When the places where the nerves enervate the muscle get irritated, tender points and trigger points get ignited. Your Spot Begins to Throb! Pain can also travel down to the arm and ring and little finger on the hand.
Okay, first I release the tightness and get rid of the pain in the rhomboid, and then I check in with all the muscles connected to the shoulder blade. That is where I find the culprit. Did you know that a
muscle on the front of body attaching to a small part of the shoulder blade that pokes through to the front might be involved? Pectoralis minor runs from the third, fourth and fifth rib to the coracoid process of the scapula. Its action is to rotate the shoulder blade forward and down like when the arm is raised over head. Also, I have found that the serratus anterior muscle, a beautiful muscle that feathers in to rib cage from the scapula. It also helps rotate the shoulder blade forward and down. In checking both these muscles, I find them painfully tight and the serratus has one painful point that can radiate pain back up to your spot! This is the trigger point for the serratus located in the middle of the muscle. And there is the culprit.
I completely work the muscles of the shoulder and make sure I release pec minor and serratus anterior. This involves working with you while you are lying on your side. The release feels amazing, I promise you. You can stretch at home, too, by leaning on a wall, doing door stretches, or leaning over a large
I find these patterns in many cyclists if they grip the handle bars too hard, like in the cycling classes. I also see shortened pectoralis minor in people who carry heavy bags over their shoulder. These are the common efforts that hide the rhomboid pain. While you might think it is something about your back, it is really about your side or the front of your shoulder. Next time you come in, let me check it out!
Helping Moms Recover from Pregnancy
Pregnancy can really affect a mom’s body. The growing baby creates engineering issues: As the belly goes forward the back and pelvis have to shift and the feet have to adjust. Some mom’s bodies are changed forever. Prenatal massage can help a mom relax and integrate her changing body into her experience, and also make moms more comfortable during labor, the postpartum massage can help rehabilitate the new mom body. Here are a few ways how!
Emotional Adjustments and Healing
- Exhilaration and Exhaustion
- Disappointments and Grieving
- “Baby Blues”
- Postpartum Depression
- Relationship and Self Image
A postpartum massage will help reflect and normalize the new mom’s experience through active listening, emotional clearing, and care, especially during the first 6 weeks postpartum. This is very important because moms will often feel isolated during this time when baby is constantly feeding and napping. A home visit massage will help meet her where she is, and make her feel better, too! Baby can lie in with mom on the table so mom can get the care she needs.
Physiological Adjustments and Healing
- Understanding postpartum pain and discomforts
A full body Swedish massage is recommended the first week postpartum to help with fluid retention and clearing. If the mother has had a cesarean section (currently 20-40% of births), the therapist can educate about incision and scare care. Any massage on the stomach is contraindicated for 6 weeks. The should be no leg massage until 6 weeks postpartum as well. One well known way to help a mom recover in Germany is a kind of connective tissue massage that works to facilitate organ healing. While this kind of massage can be uncomfortable at times, it can be very healing.
Many women suffer from separation of the diastasis recti or abdominal muscles. A perinatal massage therapist is trained to evaluate any separation and teach special exercises to help mom restore her stomach completely.
Careful attention to the muscles of the stomach and the core muscles along the spine can aid the mom in recovering full range of motion and strength. Trigger point massage is often indicated for the upper right quandrant of the stomach. Where the baby lay during the last trimester can also need special attention with deep tissue techniques for the back. Massage can help with any strains from pregnancy and labor and delivery. And a massage can help with neck and arm strain from constant feeding and holding a new baby.