Shoulder Blade Pain while working at a desk

Burning pain between your shoulder blades?

Pain under one shoulder blade when you look down?

Periodic neck stiffness while sitting?

All of these are signs that your workstation may be contributing to your problem. Shoulder blade pain from sitting too long (working or lounging) is extremely common in today’s world. 

In this article, I’ll share three extremely effective ways to improve your workstation and decrease your shoulder blade pain.

Tip #1: Get a keyboard

Forward neck posture and forward rounded shoulder posture are the most common body mechanics that cause shoulder blade pain. Having a laptop on the dinner table, in your lap, or on the coffee table, will place your in one or both of these postures. 

Looking down places pressure on spinal discs in the neck which refer to the shoulder blade region (Cloward’s Sign). Rounded shoulder posture places tension on the shoulder blade muscles creating trigger points. Being in either of these postures too long places pressure on the cervical discs, upper trapezius, middle trapezius, and rhomboid muscles. Overused muscles can ache and burn, while cervical discs can create burning referred pain. 

Luckily moving your monitor height up to eye level will help with one neck aspect of the problem. Sitting a little “taller” can help the other.

To move the computer monitor upward, you’ll need a Bluetooth keyboard. Once connected, find some old books and place your laptop at eye level. Next “sit taller” because you’re proud you took matters into your own hands. Your shoulder blade may feel normal on its own in a few days.

If it lasts longer than a week, come see Dr. Marylou Garcia at Revamped Active Chiropractic. She is an expert at reducing shoulder blade pain in no time.

Tip #2: Walk more on your breaks

Recovery from shoulder blade pain comes down to simple mathematics. Consider balancing your checkbook. You make deposits and withdrawals all the time. 

Sitting too long is a withdrawal. Improving your posture is a deposit. When you are trying to recover from an ache or pain, all you need to do is have more in your bank account at the end of the day. A cumulative effect will come over time.

Where we get into trouble is when we write checks that our bodies can’t cash. Taking walks builds your body’s bank account like you just hit the penny slots. Imagine every step you take you deposit a penny in your bank account. While a penny may not seem like a lot, the boys of “Office Space” would agree it builds up quickly over time.

On your breaks, put your phone down and take a walk. Even 5-minute walks add up. 

Are you in meetings all day? If you don’t need to be on your computer for them, consider turning off your camera and contributing on your walk.

No fancy chair or desk is more powerful than simply getting up and walking.

Tip #3: Lean forward

Say we can’t get the monitor to eye level, one modification we can make is to change your spinal hinge point. 

As mentioned in tip #1, many people suffer from shoulder blade pain due to forward neck posture. Leaning forward straightens your neck automatically as it sends the spinal hinge point downward to other parts of the spine and even to the hips. While this may not be the best option for people suffering from lower back pain, it is an option for people with only shoulder blade pain.

While we all know stress can be a factor in shoulder blade pain, body mechanics are extremely important modifiable variables. You are in control of the situation and have the power to feel normal again.

Go take a walk today. You’ll build your bank account and blow off some stress at the same time!

If these tips don’t work for you, come see us at Revamped Active Chiropractic. We can help you find relief, fast!

Guest Author: Sebastian Gonzales DC, DACBSP®

Low Back Stiffness

Do you feel stiff in your lower back or lower body in the morning?  Does is take 15 minutes for you to warm up after you get out of bed?  

Many people complain that they have a stiffness in their low back that always seems to be worse in the morning.  Their legs or feet may even feel pain or tension until they get up and start walking around.  This is typically common for people between the ages 30-50 years of age who have had some type of disc injury.  The age range can vary based on activity level and health.  Don’t worry if you do feel this in the morning, there are many useful exercises and programs out there that can help you learn how to manage this pain.  Also, this doesn’t mean that you have a disc herniation.  A disc injury can simply be inflammation in the disc from a variety of things.  It is common in people who do repetitive movements and may be putting too much stress on the spine itself.  This is where core strength and stability come into play.  The muscles should be creating stability around the spine during movements and when this is lost then the body must rely on structures like bone, ligament and disc to do the job that the muscles are made for. 

So how do you relieve the spine from being overworked and decrease the inflammation in the disc?

There are many ways people choose to attack a disc problem.  I’ll go over 2 simple exercises here that you can try on your own.  

First, give your body some movement variety.  If you have a lumbar disc that is aggravated, then odds are you are doing some repetitive rounding in the low back throughout the day.  Some examples of this could be sitting for prolonged periods of time at a desk, driving long distances, or working with your arms held out in front of your body for extended periods of time.  The opposite of bending forward is bending backward.  Now I’m not saying go out and start doing crazy back bends all day if you’re not a yogi, but a more gentle version of this may help ease some of that low back pain.  

The exercise: Roll over onto your stomach before getting our of bed and try some lazy cobras.  Hands are placed under your shoulders and push your upper body up toward the ceiling.  Allow your lower body to relax and leave your hips resting on the bed.  Do this movement about 5-10 times and then see how your back and legs feels when you get out of bed.  

Some of the stress on the disc can also be alleviated by creating stability in the muscles surrounding the spine.  Core strengthening is a key component to alleviating the spine itself from taking on all the work.  There are a variety of core exercises out there but I have found that a combination of breath work and stability reduces tension on the disc the best.  These exercises combine diaphragm breathing and core bracing in order to pressurize the abdominal cavity and create 360 degrees of stabilization around the spine.  The pressure built up in the abdominal cavity with gentle diaphragm breathing can also create a natural decompression effect around the spine and disc.  

The exercise:

90/90 resting position: Lay on your back on the floor with your legs bent and propped up on a chair or couch.  Knees should be in line with your hips.  Place your hands on your stomach and try to breath into your hands.  

90/90 active position: Once you have got this part down lift your legs up off the chair (this now adds the bracing component).  With legs lifted off the chair try to breathe into your stomach again.  Keep your legs in this position for 20-30 seconds while practicing this breath work, and repeat this as many times up to your own tolerance until you feel the muscles around your core working up to 60% effort.  

Author: Dr. Marylou Garcia DC

Podcast: Why Does My Back Pain Only Come in the Morning?