The Best Exercises For Shoulder Blade Pain

While the source of most shoulder pain can be traced to improper posture, pain in the shoulder blade can also be the product of infection, arthritis, or injury (via Healthgrades). This can include fractures, dislocations, rotator cuff tears, and more, according to Livestrong. In the event of an injury, be sure to seek prompt medical attention or consult with your physician. But for those of us experiencing shoulder pain from sitting hunched over at our desks for too long, here are some simple exercises to help loosen up those shoulder blades.

Sometimes, a few simple stretches may be enough to alleviate some of our shoulder tension. A 2021 study published in the European Journal of Sport Science found that stretching every day for four weeks improved shoulder pain in 20 male athletes by roughly 40%. Experts at Healthgrades suggest a stretch known as the shoulder roll. Standing upright with relaxed arms, shrug your shoulders up towards your ears and slowly rotate them in a circular motion either backward or forward. Do so two to four times before switching directions. 

Additionally, a shoulder blade squeeze can be especially beneficial for those prone to slouching. Stand upright and stretch your shoulders backward, pushing your shoulder blades toward one another. Hold for a few seconds before releasing and repeat this stretch ten more times. This motion can also expand your chest muscles, further releasing any tension in the shoulder blades.

Equipment for shoulder exercises

If you have resistance bands, experts at Livestrong suggest rowing exercises for shoulder blade pain. Whether standing or sitting, secure your elastic tubing opposite you. Take a handle in each hand. While keeping your arms straight out in front of you, choose a distance that creates slight tension in the band. Pull straight back on the band with both hands until your elbows are each at a 90-degree angle.

In lieu of equipment, experts at Healthgrades say individuals with shoulder blade pain may benefit from certain yoga poses, such as the bridge pose. While laying flat on your back, bend your knees and keep your legs hip-width apart with your toes facing straight out. Keep your arms at your sides with palms touching the floor. Walk your feet back toward your fingertips as much as is comfortable. Then, breathe deeply, push your feet into the floor, and hoist your hips upward. Exhale and relax into the pose as your chest muscles expand and your shoulder blades move downward and together. Hold the position as you take three to five even breaths, then lower yourself gently back to the ground.

Remember to listen to your body and don't push beyond what you feel you can handle, cautions Healthline. In the event that you experience pain related to these exercises, stop and consult with your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment of your shoulder blade pain.