Stumbling out of bed with pain around your shoulder blades is an unwelcome experience, but it’s much more common than you might think. Your upper back is full of busy muscles, and even seemingly harmless activities — like poor posture or lifting weights at the gym — can lead to soreness and inflammation in the area.
But here’s the good news: If you’ve been dealing with aches and pains around your shoulder blades, a simple massage can help.
Below, learn four simple shoulder blade massage techniques that can bring you some relief.
1. Foam Rolling the Upper Back
When you want an easy home massage, foam rollers are one of the best tools to reach for — partly because their design makes them perfect for working on the upper back region.
Here’s how to use a foam roller for a shoulder blade massage:
- Sit on a flat, comfortable surface, and place your foam roller behind you. (If using a vibrating foam roller for deeper work, be sure to turn it to your desired setting.)
- Slowly lean back until your upper back is resting on the roller.
- Using your legs, lift your body off the ground.
- Gently roll forward and backward to knead the upper back muscles.
- Repeat for 30 seconds to two minutes.
2. Use a Massage Ball or Tennis Ball to Work Out Knots
When you have shoulder blade pain, you might notice trigger points (or knots) in the muscles surrounding the bones — specifically, in your trapezius and rhomboid muscles. These are very active muscle groups that sit between your shoulder blades and spine.
If you’ve been hitting the gym or doing any type of “throwing” motions lately, these muscles could have developed trigger points. And in these cases, a small tool like a massage or tennis ball can do wonders.
Here’s how to use one for a shoulder blade massage:
- Place the ball between your upper back muscles and a wall.
- If you have a long sock on hand, you can place the ball inside of it. You can then use the sock as a “handle,” which makes it much easier to align the ball with your back muscles.
- Lean against the ball and slowly move around to work out any tightness. Be mindful to focus the massage on your muscles and not your bones.
- When you reach a knot, pause for 20 seconds or so. This extra time can help you release the trigger point.
- Repeat for two to four minutes.
3. Try a Massage Gun
A massage gun is a high-powered tool that uses percussion therapy to break up muscle tension. Here’s how to use one around your shoulder blades:
- Turn the massage gun to its lightest setting.
- Holding the massage gun, reach up and behind your back.
- Glide the massage gun across the muscles that are giving you trouble for a few seconds. If you find that the muscles are difficult to reach on your own, don’t hesitate to ask a partner for help.
- Turn up the pressure to your desired intensity, and work the muscles for about 30 seconds longer.
- Repeat on each muscle group for up to two minutes at a time.
4. Use a Body Massager for All-Around Relief
If the intense power of a massage gun isn’t what you’re looking for, you might enjoy using an oscillating body massager like the MedMassager MMB05 instead.
A tool like this can still help you break up knots around the shoulder blades, but the main benefit is all-around tension relief.
Here’s how to get started:
- Turn the device to a low-pressure setting.
- Align the massager between your upper back and a high-backed chair. Lean against the device to keep it in place. (Alternatively, you can ask a partner for some help.)
- Allow the machine to massage your back for a minute or two at light pressure. Then, adjust to your desired intensity.
- Lean back and enjoy the massage for five to ten minutes.
- Repeat up to several times per day, until the muscle tightness around the shoulder blades begins to subside.
If you’ve been dealing with a recent bout of shoulder blade pain, you’re not alone. There are many active muscles surrounding these bones — which means soreness and trigger points can happen often. The good news is that a soothing massage could bring you some relief.
Before beginning your home massage routine, be sure to check with a physician. Although rare, pain near the shoulder blades can sometimes occur due to more serious conditions.
Then, you can try any of the above techniques to ease your stressed and agitated muscles. Use a foam roller, an electric massager, or even a tennis ball if it’s what you have on hand.
For more advanced therapeutic massage at home, check out the MedMassager MMB05 today. Or, learn more about how to use it on your mid and upper back here.