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How to Relieve Shoulder Blade Pain with Trigger Point Therapy

By Mark Nero ; Updated July 27, 2017

Trigger points, also known as muscle knots, are involuntary contractions of a portion of muscle fiber. The pain, which according to the American Academy of Family Physicians affects about 10 percent of the American population, can be relieved many times via trigger point therapy, which consists of applying firm pressure to trigger points for a period of time until the pain in the muscle subsides. And in the shoulder blade area, there are three such pressure points that should be focused on.

  1. Physically examine the shoulder's muscle fibers. If the muscle fibers are strained, they will likely feel lumpy. You or the person assisting you should run your fingers along the borders of the shoulder blade(s) experiencing pain. The fingers should move in a semi-triangular motion, with one point being in the middle the blade, another near the blade's upper border and the third below the center. Although it's possible to do this yourself, you may want to have someone else perform this action in order to reduce your risk of injury.

  2. Press the lower of the three trigger points of the semi-triangle outline using a tennis ball or therapeutic cane, commonly called a "theracane." If you don't feel any pain, move up to the next pressure point. If you do feel pain, keep pressure firmly applied for for 10 seconds, then release for 10 seconds. Reapply and release the pressure as needed until the pain has subsided. If the pain doesn't subside after two minutes, go on to the next pressure point.

  3. Move the theracane or tennis ball up to the next trigger point, which should be about an inch up and half an inch to the left, near the middle of the shoulder blade. Again, press the cane or tennis ball into the pressure point. If there's no pain, move on to the next point. Or apply firm pressure on and off for 10 seconds at a time until the pain subsides.

  4. Move up to the third and highest trigger point, located above and to the right of the shoulder blade's center, just beneath the blade's upper border. Firmly apply pressure to the pressure point. If you experience pain, apply and remove pressure for 10 seconds at a time for a maximum of up to 2 minutes.

  5. Tip

    Treatment can be repeated up to 12 times a day. If experiencing bruising, use less pressure.


    If the shoulder blade pain doesn't subside after multiple sessions of trigger point therapy consider seeing a doctor, because the problem may be serious.

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