Pain Between the Shoulders? Release the Rib Cage!

Pain between the shoulder blades is one of the most common patterns we see. It is often on both sides and difficult to pinpoint the source of the pain. It may be dull or stabbing. Some even describe it as an electrical feeling. 

Commonly, therapists will release the fascia in that area, activate the trigger points, and strip the bellies of the romboids and traps. This is all very helpful for releasing the tension in that area. But that's usually not the only tension causing the pain. The ribs that attach between T3 and T7 have muscles between them called intercostals. When leaning forward (as we often do while driving, working at the computer, looking at our smartphones, or biking) the intercostals in the upper ribs bear extra weight while simultaneously being compressed. This causes inflammation in the area which affects all of the other muscles attaching to the thoracic spine. Hence, the pain pattern pictured above.

To release the ribs, we'll position you in a way that creates extra space between them. This is often a side-lying position. We'll use myofascial techniques to release the fascia in the area and then we'll strip the intercostals while looking for active trigger points. The result will be increased mobility in the rib cage, and over time, a decrease in inflammation in the area.

Try out our resident rib cage expert Laura, to have your mid back pain assessed and managed. Just remember to maintain that space between the ribs by stretching the rib cage a couple times throughout the day. Camel Pose and Side Angle Pose are excellent ways to do this.