Shoulder Blade Pain Relief

Learn to relieve your shoulder blade pain with some simple, yet highly effective techniques.

You may have worked too much at your desk or overstressed your body in sports like rock climbing, swimming or fitness, etc.

And it doesn't really matter if you are active or sedentary. I am pretty sure that the reasons for your pain are not those activities themselves but...

  • an irritated nervous system
  • weak muscles
  • insufficient rest
  • an unbalanced training



... Of Your Shoulder Blade

... Between Your Spine And Scapula

... Of Your Upper Arm And Arm Pit

... Of Your Neck

Potentially Responsible Muscles



Pain on the shoulder blade is in over 90% of the cases caused by too tight muscles and trigger points, which are mostly a result of the factors mentioned above.

Hence, they display physical overuse.

On this page I will walk you step by step through a self-massage program that will probably help you a lot with your relief.

I offer you a video as well as a written description. It will cost you a couple of minutes of your time, but the potential price is remedy in the long run! Afterwards I will also give you some short info about shoulder pain symptoms.

Your shoulder blade is also called “scapula”. I mention this as I will also use this term and want to avoid any confusion.

In rare cases muscle pain can indicate serious conditions – cancer, angina pectoris, etc. –, which is why it makes highly sense to double check with your doctor, especially if you belong to a risk group. You will find plenty of info about that on the Internet. Here I will concentrate on shoulder blade pain that is of muscular origin – over 90% of the cases –.

Shoulder Blade Pain Relief: Your Self-Massage

!Massage yourself on a daily basis until your pain is gone!

If you had problems following along my video, just read the written instructions.

If you need to learn more about a particular muscle, check the chapter “Potentially Responsible Muscles” or click on the corresponding links in the text.

Written Description Of Your Self-Massage

Both, trigger points and excessive muscle tension persist over very long periods of time – we are talking about years – if they don't get treated and thus can give you constant or intermittent pain. With self-massage you can get rid of both of them.

Here, I do not mean uncoordinated rubbing but precise massage of the key trouble-making muscles, which I will show you in just a minute. I divided the self-massage in the following four areas 

  • shoulder blade
  • space between spine and shoulder blade
  • upper arm and arm pit 
  • neck

I know, it's seems to be quite a lot, but it doesn't help. There are just a lot of muscles that need to be checked for tenderness.

Luckily, you have to go through that whole process only once – if you do it thoroughly –. After this upfront work, you can concentrate exclusively on the tender and painful areas. Muscular tenderness is a sign that the corresponding muscle is too tight and needs to be released.

The most important things right ahead!

  • Inspect the areas described for tender spots
  • Massage each of them max. 15 times per session.
  • Do it with a ball or your fingers.
  • Execute the massage slow and very precise.
  • Only concentrate at one tender spot at the time
  • Always try to hit it at its most painful location.
  • On a pain scale, ranging from 1 – 10, your “massage pain” should be around 4 – 7.

1. Shoulder Blade Pain: Self-Massage Of Your Shoulder Blade

Muscles: Deltoid, Infraspinatus, Latissimus Dorsi, Supraspinatus, Teres Major & Teres Minor

I recommend to massage this area with the tennis ball massage.

Let's start at the outer and lower border of your scapula. Here are your deltoid, latissimus dorsi ,teres major and teres minor located. Place the ball on the outer and lower part of your scapula and search all along its outer border – up to your arm pit – for tender spots and massage each of them.

Common Trigger Points

Shoulder Blade Tennis Ball Massage

Now repeat the same right on your scapula with the infraspinatus, which can cause severe pain in the shoulder blade.

It is located right below your spine of scapula – bony horizontal line – which you can feel when you put your hand over your shoulder.

Place your ball below that spine and inspect the area thoroughly. If the infraspinatus is tight, it can cause a burning shoulder blade pain, and its massage is often pretty painful.

Feeling The Spine Of Scapula

Infraspinatus Tennis Ball Massage

Last but not least we will take a look at your supraspinatus. Its name already tells you where it lies, namely above – supra – your spine of scapula.

On this one, you can use the press and move massage technique. Place your hand slightly above your spine of scapula, press with your fingertips in the muscle tissue and search for tender spots by lifting and lowering your arm a couple of times.

Experiment here with the position of your fingers. When you hit a tender point, stay there and slowly lift and lower your arm for about 20 times.

Supraspinatus Self-Massage

!Don't overdo it here, as your fingers tire pretty quick with this kind of massage!

2. Shoulder Blade Pain: Self-Massage Between Your Spine And Scapula, And Under Your Scapula

Muscles: Erector Spinae, Levator Scapulae, Serratus Posterior Superior & Trapezius

Here you are going to work the upper and inner angle of your scapula, its inner border and the space between your spine and the scapula. Furthermore I will show you how to work “underneath” your shoulder blade.

For all those areas I recommend the tennis ball massage.

At the upper border, you are going to work the middle part of your trapezius as well as your levator scapulae. You can feel the upper angle, also called angulus superior, by simply putting your fingers on your spine and then moving them sideways until you hit a bony landmark.

Along the inner border you are massaging mainly the middle and lower part of your trapezius. If this muscle is tight and contains trigger points, it often causes burning pain between the shoulder blades and can be extremely tender.

Feeling The Angulus Superior

Massaging The Area Of The Angulus Superior

The last muscle you should examine is your serratus posterior superior. It is involved in almost every type of shoulder ache and can cause shoulder blade pain that gets more intense during breathing.

This is because it supports inhalation by lifting your ribs. When it is overworked, the tension it creates during contraction in order support inhalation can be already too much for the muscle. So, examine it and give it your attention if it's neccessary.

As the serratus posterior superior is mostly hidden under your scapula, you will have to rotate your shoulder in order to be able to massage it.

You do this by simply crossing the arm of the affected side in front of your body. Then concentrate your massage on the upper half of the inner border of your shoulder blade, as this is where you “hit” its muscle fibers.

Be prepared for quite some discomfort here...

Arm Position

Serratus Posterior Superior Tennis Ball Massage

3. Shoulder Blade Pain: Self-Massage Of Your Upper Arm And Arm Pit

Muscles: Triceps Brachii & Subscapularis

In my opinion those areas are massaged best with your hands, using the thumb-index-finger-technique and the thumb-technique.

You are very well on your way to relieve your shoulder blade pain. You are almost done with your first inspection. If you are still reading this, congratulations! I am honest! You will reap the benefits sooner or later...

We begin with your triceps. Pinch the muscle at the backside of your arm in its midsection. Pay attention to not only grab fat tissue but also the muscle itself.

You won´t have any issues feeling if you have it in your hands or not if you roll the grabbed tissue between your fingers.

Now inspect the triceps' area from its midsection up to your arm pit for tender points by rolling and pressurizing it between your fingers. Then roll each tender spot max. 15 times between them.

Triceps Palpation & Massage

Take frequent rests and stop immediately if your fingers tire. It's really easy to “strain” them here if you overdo it.

Proceed with your subscapularis, which is a muscle of your rotator cuff that is located in your arm pit.

It will be very important for you to really find the muscle before massaging it as there are lots of nerves running in its vicinity.

But it's really doable. Anyway, I am here to explain you exactly what to do. Sit down on a chair and let the arm of the affected shoulder hang loose. Cautiously press with your thumb as deep in your arm pit as possible. Then repeatedly rotate your shoulder inwards which will harden/contract your subscapularis.

Rotate your shoulder inwards by turning your thumb towards your body until its facing backwards. But make sure to rotate also your upper arm and not only your wrist. Otherwise you won't rotate your shoulder and thus won't be able to feel the subscapularis properly.

As soon as you feel the muscle, press with your thumb in it and loosen up your arm. Now you can massage it with the thumb-technique.

Use a maximum of 15 strokes and get back on track as soon as you feel you are loosing the muscle.

Subscapularis Location

Subscapularis Self-Massage

4. Shoulder Blade Pain: Self-Massage Of Your Neck

Muscles: Scalenes

The scalenes are located at your neck and can contribute to a variety of pain symptoms, including shoulder blade pain.

As their massage is a bit complex, I recommend to visit their own page here on Painotopia.

There you will find out all the info you need to massage the scalenes. But don't get hung up on them for too long, as the main troublemakers are the muscles that I already mentioned above.

Shoulder Blade Pain And Its Potentially Responsible Muscles

The following list contains all the muscles that got already discussed in the chapters above. However, you might need or want some more information on a specific muscle to learn...

  • what its pain zones are
  • what movements overload it
  • where it is located in your body
  • … and more


   Erector spinae

   Latissimus dorsi

Levator scapulae! 


   Serratus posterior superior! 



   Teres major!

Teres minor


   Triceps brachii!

Shoulder Blade Pain Symptoms

The following list contains symptoms that can accompany shoulder blade pain. After each symptom, I listed the muscles that can cause the specific problem.

  • Pain when lifting the arm: Deltoid, subscapularis, supraspinatus & teres major
  • Pain in shoulder blade when breathing: Serratus posterior superior
  • Severe pain under shoulder blade: Serratus posterior superior
  • Stiffness and burning shoulder blade pain: Middle and lower trapezius & infraspinatus

Exercises For Shoulder Blade Pain:

In the exercise section you will find some excellent shoulder exercises. There are not too many online right now but I hope that I will find time to supply you with more soon...

Thanks a lot for reading! If you have any questions, don't hesitate and just contact me!

› Pain Shoulder Blade