Do you find yourself asking this question? Maybe is starts with a little discomfort in an area, say around one of your shoulder blades? You find yourself moving the scapula around, trying to see if it is just a kink. Maybe you take a little Ibuprofen, or rub some pain relief cream into it? No matter what you do, the pain seems to increase as the days or weeks go by, and nothing you do seems to affect it at all.
Some people go see their doctor. Some people get referred to other specialists. In more cases than not, I have had clients tell me their specialist(s) are talking about cortisone injections, or exploratory surgeries. People who are experiencing this type of pain are usually trying to figure out what they are doing to cause the pain in the first place, so they can avoid it in the future. The general consensus from clients are things like, “I must have slept on it wrong last night.”, or, “My mattress is old and probably needs to be replaced.” Is your mattress really that old? Is it too hard? Too soft? Who knows? Researching new mattresses online, you will find that it can take your body 2-8 weeks to adjust to a new one, and a lot of people have experienced discomfort, or more pain, during that time.
We like to look deeper into what you do throughout your days, weeks, and years. How do you relax? What kind of work do you do? How many hours per day are you in a particular posture? If you are not stretching, and/or exercising, in ways that help maintain muscle balance, you can be experiencing muscle imbalance, which causes varying levels of pain after some time. What does this mean? Was the cause of your excruciating pain in your shoulder blade really your mattress, or was it the final straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back?
We are not doctors, so we cannot diagnose your problems. We have had great results using massage techniques to free up muscle adhesions (knots), and when coupled with the client doing stretches we show them, and modifying their workouts like we advise them, they do see results. Now, these results take time, but the length of time depends on each client, and their particular issue(s). Following, you will see some pictures that show a typical person maintaining a posture that will cause them pain in the future, if they are not already in pain. The postural problems you may be unconsciously maintaining may seem innocuous to you, but as time goes by, they can cause serious pain. The following images show some of these postures that you may not be aware you are holding yourself in.
Picture to the left shows a typical posture you see people sitting in while they read their phone screens, books, etc. Note how the shoulders are forward, and the upper back is hunched over, while the head is rotated and the person is looking almost straight down.
This image shows a scene from a restaurant, that is quite common these days. Please note how the upper body is hunching forward over the table, the shoulders are in a forward position, and one or more of the shoulders are also elevated. (These positions can cause pain all around the shoulder blades, in the traps, neck, and even up into the head.) The woman has her legs crossed, which can cause issues in the hips if she maintains that position for hours out of her day. The gentleman’s legs are splaying outward, which causes the glutes and piriformis muscles to shorten over time if he maintains that position a lot. The same thing can occur if you sleep on your back, and allow your feet to fall to the lateral (outside) of your body. (These positions can cause low back pain, hip pain, and even sciatica.)
This image shows a typical console gamer laying on a couch while playing. You can also imagine someone reading a book in this manner. Again, the shoulders and upper body are hunching forward, the head is neck is pushing forward, and the legs are in positions which can allow the muscles to shorten up.
This image shows a typical person driving their vehicle. If you maintain this kind of posture for eight (8) or more hours a day, you will have pain in the shoulders, upper back, and possibly neck and head as well. If you knees are higher than your hips while sitting for long times like this, it has been known to cause circulation problems, and it allows your hip flexors to shorten up, which can cause you low back pain.
What can you do about this you ask? We, as a society, need to get up and move more. Are you one of those people who never stops to sit, or is always on the go? Guess what, if you are experiencing pain like we are discussing here, you are maintaining a postural problem throughout your day in most cases. Are you wearing high heels all day? Are your workouts really targeting the muscles in a way that keeps your body in balance? We can ask all kinds of questions to help you figure out what might be the root causes to your pain, assuming the pain is muscular, and not something that requires surgery, such as a bone spur shredding tendons when you move a joint.
Do you need to do a full yoga class every day to combat this pain? While that is not a terrible idea, a full yoga class is not usually required. We have stretches you can do throughout your day, even at work, or on the go, that can help with this pain. They work better when you are actively trying to maintain better posture. We will be posting videos, or at least posting links to videos, of some of the typical stretches and what area of pain they can help you with soon.
Photo used as the featured image for this post by MILKOVÍ.