Shoulder blade pain among new moms is incredibly common. So common, that it has its own term “Mom shoulder.”

To improve shoulder blade pain quickly, you’ll want to change positions of holding your baby frequently and engage in a strength training program with weights.  (this can be as short as 10 minutes, two days a week)

In the rest of this article, I’ll share with you exactly how I recommend improving symptoms quickly with my clients.

mom shoulder

What causes shoulder blade pain in new moms?

The primary cause of shoulder blade pain in new moms is the repetitive stress and strain of picking up and holding your new baby for long durations of time. 

If your body is not quite used to this activity it’s a possibility that you will experience this type of discomfort at some point. 

It’s hypothesized that this type of pain is related to the rhomboid muscle, the middle trapezius muscle, the erector spinae muscles, or other ligamentous or tendinous structures in the same region. 

But, true to form as in most musculoskeletal pain conditions or injury, one specific cause is often very difficult or impossible to distinguish, particularly when there is not a specific mechanism of injury. 

Mechanism of injury means “how did it happen.” If there was a clear and exact time and place that you remember symptoms coming on, it’s a lot easier to distinguish a particular structural issue (most of the time). 

If there is not a clear mechanism of injury then the “reason,” your shoulder blade may be hurting is not as apparent. 

What are some good exercises to help alleviate shoulder blade pain?

There are dozens of exercises that could help alleviate symptoms, but I like to start with two or three. Sometimes less is more. 

The first exercise that I have most people try is a bent-over row. This exercise is great and usually is tolerated really well by most people. 

Bent Over Row

The second exercise I have my clients try is reverse flyes. This one is great because you can go a little bit lighter to get the same result. 

Reverse Fly

The third and final exercise I prescribe for this is called prone swimmers. This is can be a little bit more inconvenient as you would need to get on the floor, however, it’s a really good one for shoulder mobility as well. 

Prone Swimmers

What else can you do to improve symptoms?

The normal modalities that may help improve symptoms are as follows:

  1. Ice
  2. Heat (heat pad, hot tub, etc.)
  3. Massage
  4. Foam rolling
  5. Theragun/vibration massage device
  6. Tylenol or other NSAIDs (make sure to be cleared by your doctor)

Each of these above-listed modalities may be helpful in reducing symptoms and controlling them while your body does the rest of the work to heal. 

Generally, a combination of treatments using modalities in conjunction with exercise is the best strategy. 

The modalities usually make the recovery process more manageable while the exercises tend to give a bit more longer-term relief while potentially preventing it from coming back in the future. 

Will these exercises also help Dad’s who are having this issue?

These exercises and modalities will also help Dad’s who are having these issues. I work with plenty of dads who also share with me this is why they’re having discomfort and pain! I don’t think i’ll be writing a separate article on “Dad shoulder!”

Key Takeaways

  • Mom shoulder blade pain is likely due to muscle, tendon or ligament-type pain that generally improves with exercise, modalities, and time. 
  • A combination of treatments works best for shoulder blade pain
  • Change positions and how you hold your baby, frequently
  • Being consistent with a strength training routine that focuses on the upper, mid, and lower back can help to prevent severe flare-ups of this issue. (based on my experience working with clients).