Treating rhomboid muscle pain: Exercises, remedies, and prevention tips
Rhomboid strain can be very uncomfortable, especially if it comes with shooting pain or spasms, However, early rhomboid muscle pain treatment allows you to return to normal activity relatively quickly. As we outline here, there are rhomboid muscle pain relief exercises that can make a significant difference in your recovery.
The rhomboid muscles are in your upper back and connect the edges of your shoulder blades to your spine. When we stretch or tear these muscles, it can lead to rhomboid strain or rhomboid spasm. Sometimes, sports injuries can lead to rhomboid muscle strain.
The most common treatments for rhomboid muscle pain are resting and refraining from activity that causes any strain on the muscle in addition to icing the affected area. The ice can reduce the pain and inflammation caused by the strain to the rhomboid muscle.
The following are basic guidelines for rhomboid muscle pain treatment:
- Rest: This is important in the healing process. If you do anything strenuous after straining the rhomboid muscle, it could lead to more tears and lengthen your recovery period.
- Medications: To reduce swelling, some medications are administered such as ibuprofen.
- Cold compresses: Applying an ice bag or ice cubes wrapped in a towel can help with both swelling and pain, but should not be applied for more than 20 minutes at a time.
- Rehab: Many patients should be encouraged to do gentle stretches and movements to regain flexibility. One stretching exercise simply involves interlacing the fingers behind the back and gently pushing them out backward. Another exercise is to hold one arm straight across the chest. It is important to not overexert yourself.
- Lifting: While stretching may be permitted, lifting heavy objects or making sudden movements is not.
- Physiotherapy: Some people find that working with a physiotherapist can help them adjust to mild exercises designed for rhomboid muscle injury.
Rhomboid muscle pain relief doesn’t happen overnight—it can take patience and time. In the majority of cases, the pain subsides in two to three weeks. When the pain doesn’t seem to want to go away, you should consult with a doctor.
Related: Pinched nerve in shoulder blade: Causes, symptoms, treatments, and exercises
Rhomboid strain exercise
Rhomboid muscle pain relief exercises not only help you get back to your normal life faster, they also help prevent the strain from recurring. While some movements can make your condition worse, there are specific exercises that are recommended for people suffering from rhomboid strain. The following list covers several of the exercises doctors tend to suggest:
- Resistance row: Take an exercise band and place it around a solid object at waist height and then face the object. Standing about three feet away, hold on to one end of the band with each hand and slowly pull on the band, pulling in the shoulders until the elbows are at your sides. Repeat about 10 times.
- Rhomboid stretch: Stretch your arms out in front of you, placing one hand on top of the other, reaching forwards slowly. You should feel a gentle stretch between your shoulder blades. Hold for 15–30 seconds. Repeat about three times.
- Neck rotation: Slowly and gently move your head to one side as far as you can without straining your neck. Hold this position for 15–30 seconds and then rotate your head all the way to the other side and hold for 15–30 seconds. Do this three times.
- Neck stretch: While either standing or sitting, look straight ahead and allow the head to tip to one side, moving the ear toward the shoulder with both shoulders down. Hold this position for about 15–30 seconds. Slowly raise your head to the starting position and tip your head slowly to the other side. Hold for 15–30 seconds.
- Fixed bar stretch: Grab hold of a fixed bar. Standing arm’s length away from the bar, pull your hips backward while straightening your legs. Keep your arms and spine straight. You should feel stretching in the rhomboid muscles.
- Rhomboid twisting stretch: Much like a seated spinal twist, you will twist toward the inside of a bent leg instead of toward the outside. Start by sitting on the floor with legs out straight in front of you. Cross the right leg over your left. Placing the left hand on the floor behind you, reach over and grasp the right ankle with the right hand while twisting the body to the left side. You can use the elbow to push the right knee out. Repeat the twist on the other side.
- Bent arm stretch: Sitting or standing, bend your left elbow and reach back behind the right shoulder. Cross the right arm under the left so that it is also bent. To increase the stretch, pull the left arm closer to your body. Repeat this on the other side of your body.
- Straight arm stretch: Sit in a chair or sit cross-legged on the floor. Keep your spine straight and then reach the left arm across the chest, keeping the arm straight. With the right hand, pull the elbow towards your chest. Your left palm should be facing behind you. Repeat this stretch on the other side.
- Upper back and neck stretch: Lock your fingers and stretch them forward at chest level with your palms facing forward. Slowly bend your neck down so that your chin is touching the chest and hold for a couple minutes. You can try moving your neck up and down for extra stretching while keeping your hands outstretched in front with fingers still in the locked position.
- Shoulder blade stretch: Stand in between a doorframe, grip the sides of the frame with your palms at shoulder level, and lunge forward and then backward. This is not only good for rhomboid muscle pain, but for mid back pain, upper back pain, and neck pain.
Related: Right shoulder blade pain causes and treatment
How to prevent rhomboid muscle pain
If you have ever had rhomboid muscle pain, you know how aggravating it can be and how it can slow you down. There are ways you can avoid this type of muscle strain. For instance, always warming up before any kind of exercise can prevent problems with the rhomboid muscle. Warming up helps loosen the muscles and gets blood flowing. When it is cold outside, you should consider exercising indoors. Frigid conditions are known to increase muscle strains in various parts of the body. Additionally, practicing proper techniques when playing sports and wearing protective gear for both sports and work can prevent muscle strain.
What many people don’t realize is that muscle strain, including rhomboid muscle spasms, can be due to something as simple as poor posture. So, if you work at a computer a lot, make sure you pay attention to your posture and take frequent breaks. Stand up, move around, and stretch.
Playing sports, carrying heavy objects, poor posture, and even sudden movements can lead to rhomboid muscle issues. Those who do not exercise regularly find that muscles like the rhomboid muscle become weak and more susceptible to strains and tears. A few minutes of stretching each day is really all it takes in most cases to avoid the pain and discomfort associated with muscle strain.
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