Massage can be helpful and effective for shoulder blade pain. My recommendation is to use massage as a short-term solution to this problem and to add specific exercises as detailed in this article about shoulder blade pain.
The most common cause of shoulder blade pain is NOT cancer.
Yes, I know, a google search told you it’s probably not cancer :). Rare!
It’s a muscle strain or ache that comes on from overuse or being in one position/posture for an extended period of time.
- It doesn’t matter what type of massage you get. Get whatever kind feels best to you
- Massage therapy works on short-term pain due to the modification of mechanoreceptors at the skin level along with other neurochemical processes that take place.
- Massage therapy combined with active therapy is generally the most effective method of addressing shoulder blade pain. Strength and muscle activation exercises provide more of a long-term effect.
The Benefits Of Massage Therapy For Shoulder Blade Pain
Massage can be of tremendous benefit for shoulder blade pain as it can help to control symptoms in the short term. (you can read this article you’re wondering about dry needling for this issue.)
If this is an acute issue that has cropped up, it’s very reasonable that the pain will resolve on its own and with a few massage therapy sessions over the course of a couple of days.
If this is more of a recurring issue or chronic issue I recommend, in addition to massage therapy, engaging in a rehabilitation program that includes strengthening and muscle activation exercises.
I’ve detailed, here, specific exercises, that are helpful for that. I also include how many sets and reps to complete.
Type of Massage Techniques That Can Be Effective For Shoulder Blade Pain
There are many different types of massage (many more than i’ll share below). Here’s what you need to know about any type of massage.
Massage is the act of placing hands on the skin. This produces an electrical current via receptors in the skin to send information to the brain. This then has the potential to create a “relaxation” effect via neurochemical mechanisms.
If you want the full breakdown check out this scientific article by Bialosky et.al 2018.
Swedish massage uses more superficial strokes (effleurage) such as:
- Longer, slower strokes
- Circular motions
This can be helpful for your shoulder blade if you have a lot of discomfort with deeper pressure.
Deep Tissue Massage
If deeper pressure feels good, then you might benefit from deep tissue massage. The key components of deep tissue massage vs. swedish massage are:
- Deeper pressure through upper and lower extremities in addition to torso
- Also known as petrissage
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger point therapy is similar to deep tissue massage. The only difference is that it generally focuses in on a few “sore spots,” and works on that specific area and a small area around it.
Often times your massage therapist will combine several different techniques to get you the best possible outcome.
Each of these different techniques help to relieve discomfort, usually in the short term, via neurochemical processes associated with physical touch and the activation of mechanoreceptors on the skin level.
How To Prepare For A Massage Therapy Session For Shoulder Blade Pain
Here are a few things you should do to prepare for your massage therapy session.
- Wear comfortable clothing
- Prepare any specific concerns or issues you are having so that your massage therapist can work with you on those issues.
- Be prepared to share any other health issues that your MT should be aware of
For additional ideas check out this article.
Potential contraindications to massage
If you are having any of the following symptoms please contact your doctor and reschedule your massage therapy appointment:
- Difficulty breathing
- Heaviness on chest
- Unexplained fatigue
- Numbness and tingling down arm and to hand in addition to shoulder blade pain
How To Find A Qualified Massage Therapist For Shoulder Blade Pain
Most massage therapists should be comfortable working with this issue. To find a therapist that you like, the best way to do that would be to:
- Check google reviews (make sure they are legit reviews of actual customers)
- Ask friends
- Cross-reference google reviews with friends
- Review the website to see what their methodology is
- Call to talk on the phone and ask if they have experience with shoulder blade pain
You can also use the above decision-making criteria with any professional you ever decide to hire.
If you want to go to the next level you can review their massage therapy license and make sure it’s current and that they graduated from a reputable institution.
I hope this was helpful and good luck with getting relief from your shoulder blade pain. If you want help from me please reach out to me by filling out this form so that we can get you back to feeling your best right away.