Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Blade Pain

  • Senior woman holding shoulder or neck in pain
    Shoulder Blade Pain Relief
    Your shoulder blades, or scapulas, are the wing-shaped bones in your upper back. At the top, they form the socket where the ball-shaped bone at the top of your arm sits to form the shoulder joint. They are also the connection point for a complex system of muscles that gives your arms a wide range of motion. If the scapula is out of position, or if there are any problems with the tendons attached to the scapula, it can cause pain and make movement difficult. Here are some exercises that can help relieve shoulder blade pain. Check with your provider to make sure these exercises are appropriate for you.
  • Young woman stretching and warming up for training at the beach
    Shoulder Stretch
    Stand straight and relax your shoulders. Raise one arm out in front of you so that it is at shoulder height, and reach it across your chest, pulling it gently with your other arm. You should feel a gentle stretch through your upper back and shoulder. Hold the position for several seconds and then release. Repeat the stretch 2 to 4 times, and then do the exercise on the other side. This is an effective stretch to release tension in your shoulder blades and upper back muscles.
  • Woman at work stretching neck and shoulders at desk
    Shoulder Roll
    The simple shoulder roll can help relieve shoulder blade pain due to tension in your shoulders, upper back and neck. Stand up straight and imagine that a string is pulling the top of your head toward the ceiling, which will improve your posture and alignment. Relax your arms and then move your shoulders up toward your ears. Circle your shoulders slowly in one direction 2 to 4 times, and then repeat in the other direction. Focus on keeping the motion in your shoulders, releasing tension and strain.
  • Woman working at desk stretching neck and shoulders
    Shoulder Blade Squeeze
    If you round your shoulders when you work at a computer or on the phone, your shoulder blades may move into a position that strains the muscles. This simple exercise will help reposition them and relieve pain. Stand up straight and pull your elbows back so that your shoulders move together and slightly downward. Hold for a few seconds and repeat 10 times. This exercise will also open up your chest muscles, which is important in relieving shoulder pain.
  • Woman stretching in home office
    Lower Neck and Upper Back Stretch
    Raise your arms to shoulder height and clasp your hands in front of you. Drop your chin forward and reach forward so that you round your upper back and pull your shoulder blades apart till you feel a stretch across your upper back and shoulders. Hold the position for several seconds. Repeat the motion 2 to 4 times, gently stretching the muscles in the shoulders and upper back and loosening the shoulder blades.
  • Orthopedic doctor checks patient's range of motion and does shoulder stretch
    Goalpost Stretch
    This exercise will open your chest and the front of your shoulders, using the muscles that support your shoulder blades to increase mobility in the middle and upper (thoracic) spine. Sit up straight and lift your arms with your elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, even with your shoulders to make the shape of a goalpost. Relax your shoulders down, and then pull your arms towards the back of the room, squeezing the shoulder blades back and down. Don’t force the movement any farther than you can do comfortably. Repeat several times.
  • Woman in sportswear doing hip bridge exercise on floor mat
    Bridge Yoga Pose
    Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. Rest your arms by your sides, palms facing down. Walk your feet back until your fingers touch your heels or as close as you can comfortably get. Take a breath, press your feet onto the floor, and lift your hips up. Breathe out and relax into the pose, focusing on opening your chest and moving your shoulder blades down and together. Hold the pose for about 3 to 5 slow breaths, then lower your body slowly down to the floor.
  • woman-holding-warrior-ii-yoga-pose
    Warrior II Yoga Pose
    This yoga pose releases hunching and tension in the upper back and shoulder blade area. Place your feet about a yard apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach out to the sides with your palms facing downward. Turn your right foot outward at a slight angle, and turn your left foot outward to 90 degrees. Gently bend your left knee over your left ankle. Stretch your arms to widen the shoulder blades. Turn your head to the left and remain in this position for about 30 seconds. Reverse your feet and repeat.
  • Senior woman practicing yoga at home Locust pose
    Locust Yoga Pose
    Lie face down on the floor with your feet hip-width apart and your arms flat down by your sides, palms down. Keeping your arms straight behind you, lift your chest so you are looking forward, then lift your arms and hands, keeping them parallel to the ground. If you can, lift your feet so you are resting on your belly and pelvis. Rotate your shoulders to extend your arms outward and turn your thumbs up, lengthening your arms. Press your shoulder blades down and into your back. Hold the pose for 3 to 5 slow breaths and repeat 2 to 3 times.
  • Young sporty mother and little girl doing stretching gymnastic exercises together standing in crab posture on mat in loft studio
    Upward Facing Plank (Crab) Yoga Pose
    To assume the crab position, sit on the floor with your knees bent and your arms behind you, your hands flat and facing forward. Press your hands and feet down as you lift your hips up toward the ceiling. Lengthen your belly, chest, and back of the neck, making your body as close to a straight line as you can without forcing it, so that your shoulder blades move downward. Release and slowly lower yourself back down to the floor. If you find this exercise difficult, choose a different one that puts less stress on your body.
Exercises for Shoulder Blade Pain Relief | Shoulder Blade Pain Yoga

About The Author

Nancy LeBrun is an Emmy- and Peabody award-winning writer and producer who has been writing about health and wellness for more than five years. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 16
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.