How to crack your shoulder blades

This article was co-authored by Ashley Mak, DPT. Ashley Mak is a Physical Therapist and the Owner of Ashley Mak Performance and Rehabilitation, his physical therapy business based in Hoboken, New Jersey. He is also the CEO of Hudson River Fitness and an Adjunct Professor at Kean University. With over seven years of physical therapy experience, Ashley specializes in both pain management and maximizing physical performance. He received his BA in Biology from Villanova University in 2010 and his Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) from Thomas Jefferson University in 2012.

There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Muscle knots commonly occur in the shoulder muscles of athletic and sedentary people alike. Repetitive motions (such as throwing a ball) can cause muscle fibers to contract and tighten, which feels like a thumb-size knot underneath the skin. Muscles of the shoulder, particularly ones that attach to the neck (such as the trapezius muscles), are also susceptible to becoming tight and knotted from too much time hunched forward (like in front of a computer) and/or excessive stress. [1] X Expert Source

Ashley Mak, DPT
Physical Therapist Expert Interview. 3 March 2020. Regardless of the cause, knots in shoulder muscles can be worked with specific home care or with the help of musculoskeletal specialists.

How to crack your shoulder blades

Ashley Mak, DPT
Physical Therapist Expert Interview. 3 March 2020. As such, chronic muscle strains and knots respond well to light stretching because it relieves the tension, promotes blood flow and improves flexibility. [3] X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world’s leading hospitals Go to source As a general rule, hold the stretches (without bouncing) for about 30 seconds and do them at least three times daily until the achiness from the knot fades away.

  • While standing or sitting up straight, reach around the front of your body and grab the opposite arm with your hand – around the elbow area, but never apply force to a joint, as this can cause damage. Gently pull on the back of the arm across your chest until you feel a stretch in the corresponding shoulder. Be sure to drop your shoulder away from your ear (don’t hike it up). This stretch is great for the outer and rear muscles of the shoulder.
  • While standing or sitting up straight, reach behind your back and grab the wrist of the other hand (the one with the shoulder knot). Slowly pull down on your arm just above the wrist – avoiding grabbing the joint – until you feel a good stretch in the affected shoulder. This stretch is great for shoulder muscles that attach to your neck. To increase the stretch, you can drop your ear towards the opposite shoulder

This article was co-authored by Eric Christensen, DPT. Eric Christensen is a Physical Therapist based in Chandler, Arizona. With over a decade of experience, Eric works in both orthopedic and neurological fields and specializes in custom orthotic prescription and casting, vestibular reprogramming, and manual therapy. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a focus in Sports Medicine from Colorado State University and a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Regis University. In practice, Eric takes a developmental approach to rehabilitation utilizing the Selective Functional Movement Assessment. He uses functional movement patterning and manual therapy to return patients to prior levels of function.

There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 148,995 times.

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body and, as a result, it’s easy for your shoulder blades to become tight or strained. Cracking your shoulder blades can help relieve pressure and alleviate pain caused by physical activity, poor posture, or a naturally stiff spine. [1] X Expert Source

Eric Christensen, DPT
Physical Therapist Expert Interview. 29 April 2021. Be careful when cracking your shoulders as some medical professionals believe that incorrect or overly frequent cracking can actually make things worse. [2] X Research source If you have persistent or sharp shoulder pain, visit a medical professional instead.

More Articles

  1. Mid-Back Pain That Comes & Goes
  2. Stretches for Thoracic Paraspinal Muscles
  3. How to Stretch the Quadratus Lumborum
  4. How to Correct Pulled Forward Shoulders
  5. How to Relieve Mid Back Pain

How to Crack the Upper Back. Back pain afflicts millions and millions of Americans. Most of the time lower back pain is the culprit, but in many cases people also suffer upper back pain. Tight muscles and misaligned vertebrae between the shoulder blades can lead to upper back discomfort. For temporary relief, you can try cracking your upper back yourself.

Stretch and loosen the muscles of your upper back. Raise your arms over your head, roll your shoulders and loosen your neck muscles. Have someone massage the upper back area if possible. It is easier to crack your upper back if your muscles are not tight.

Mid-Back Pain That Comes & Goes

Stand or sit as straight as possible. Pull your shoulders back as if attempting to have your shoulder blades touch.

Place your hands on your back as high up as you can. The closer your hands are to being between your shoulder blades, the better.

Stretches for Thoracic Paraspinal Muscles

Push on your back while you lean back and draw your shoulder blades together. You might hear a few small popping sounds. If so, you have successfully cracked your upper back.

Lie facedown on the floor and have someone push on your upper back between your shoulder blades, if possible. Take a deep breath and exhale as the person pushes down on your back. This is a great way to crack your upper back. Relax and try again after several minutes if you do not get a crack on the first attempt. Stop after a few attempts if your upper back will not crack.


Do not overextend your muscles or crack your upper back too often. Doing so can lead to injury. Do not ignore constant upper back pain–seek medical or chiropractic attention.

Muscle knots develop as a result of repeated motions, such as constant ball throwing, as they trigger contractions of muscle fibers and force them to tighten. Luckily, this condition can be very well treated at home with the help of stretches and other remedies, or with the help of a practitioner who specializes in musculoskeletal injuries.

How to Get Rid of Knot Under Shoulder Blade

1. Do Some Stretching

How to crack your shoulder blades

Two stretches can help you work out your rear and outer shoulder muscles. Here is the first one:

  • Stand or sit with your back straight.
  • Grab the elbow of your opposite arm with your hand from the front side of your body.
  • Pull this elbow towards your chest until you feel that you are stretching your shoulder.

Here is the second one:

  • Stand or sit up straight.
  • Grab the wrist of the hand located on the same side as the affected shoulder. Remember to reach for the hand from your back.
  • Then pull your wrist until the shoulder has gotten a fine stretch.

2. Make Use of a Handheld Massager

To use a handheld massager, you should first locate where your muscle knot is. The muscle knot feels quite harder than the rest of the tissue around and becomes painful when pressure is applied. Then you can apply the handheld massager over the problematic area for 5-10 minutes. You will need to use the massager regularly to see its effects.

3. Lie on a Tennis Ball

Lying on a tennis ball is far from comfortable, but it will help the knot disappear. Just put the ball right under the painful area, lie on it for 5 minutes, and you will feel better instantly.

4. Apply Moist Heat

Application of moist heat can help deal with shoulder knots, as this heat warms up your muscles, ligaments, and tendons, thus increasing the blood flow to the affected region. You can use grain bags (rice or wheat) that are microwaved, warm baths, steam rooms, as well as various essential oils and herbs to do this job.

In case you opt for a grain bag, just microwave it for two minutes, after which you should apply it to a knot and leave it there for 15 minutes. Repeat at least 3 times a day.

5. Take Pain Killers

How to crack your shoulder blades

Cyclobenzaprine, a type of a muscle relaxant, can successfully minimize the tension related to the knot under shoulder blade. However, it might not fully rid you of discomfort as oral application of this medication does not limit its effects only to the affected region, but rather to the whole body.

So if the pain is unbearable, it is always better to go with anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, which are quite effective but have little to no side-effects. If you don’t want to use ibuprofen, you can also apply pain-relieving creams such as Bengay.

6. Invest in a Professional Massage

How to crack your shoulder blades

If above mentioned home remedies don’t seem to help, consider visiting a professional massager who can provide deep massage to reduce tension of shoulder muscles, as well as relax you and reestablish your blood flow.

Choose a session that lasts for half an hour long and focuses on the region affected by knots. Let the massager massage you as deep as you can bare, and remember to drink a lot of water after the session.

7. Try Acupuncture

How to crack your shoulder blades

Acupuncture, a technique that consists of needles being stuck into particular parts of the skin, can do wonders for the knot under shoulder blade. As a matter of fact, three 15 to 45 minutes long treatments can be incredibly effective, especially if you decide to go for them soon after noticing the first symptoms.

And if you are scared to try this ancient healing method, don’t be! It actually induces the release of endorphins, also known as natural pain relievers that make the treatment pain-free.

8. Pay a Visit to a Chiropractor

How to crack your shoulder blades

Practitioners that specialize in musculoskeletal injuries, or chiropractors, are able to work out any knots, including the one in your shoulder. In addition to knot dissolvent, their areas of expertise also include tight muscle stretching and joint adjustments. Although you may feel relief after one visit to the chiropractor, it is always better to schedule more treatments to ensure desired results.

9. Consult a Physiotherapist

How to crack your shoulder blades

You can also consider seeking help from a physiotherapist. A physiotherapist can introduce you to various exercises and stretches that aid the treatment of your knot under shoulder blade. He/she may suggest you undergo electronic muscle stimulation or therapeutic ultrasound. Normally, a fill session lasts for 4 to 8 weeks and the patient is required to show up for the treatment two to three times a week.

You can also check out this video for how to get rid of a shoulder blade knot.

Many people experience situations when their joints pop and crack. You may also be one of them. The issue usually affects your knees and fingers. You can pop or crack the joints at will like the knuckles, your shoulder, etc. Keep reading to learn more about it.

How to Pop Your Shoulder

It is not easy to master the art. The reason is that your shoulder is a combination of complex joints in your body. It is, therefore, important to develop some understanding of the basics. The shoulder blade consists of your upper bone called humerus and your shoulder blade called the scapula. It’s a ball and socket joint – upper arm bone moves within the shoulder blade.

How to crack your shoulder blades

In order to pop it, you will have to take your wrist up behind your head and then pull it with your opposite hand slowly, then lower your arm and pull behind your back gently. It is important to take special care when learning how to pop your shoulder because any carelessness may lead to a dislocated shoulder.

How to Pop Back Your Dislocated Shoulder

While trying to pop your shoulder, you may end up dislocating it. This could be painful, but you can try to pop it back by following a specific procedure. It usually takes ten minutes to pop it back. Here’s what to do.

  1. First, confirm your shoulder is actually dislocated. If it is, you will notice certain symptoms such as deformity of the shoulder, sudden pain around your shoulder blade, pain in your forearm, etc. If your pain is severe, you will be better off seeking medical attention.
  2. If no medical help is available, you should lie down in a comfortable position. Let your shoulder joint relax. Then make sure your shoulder muscles and joints relax in order to pop it back. (If you’re popping other’s shoulder back, ensure that they stop crying and writhing before you proceed.)
  3. Slowly stretch your arm out to the side. Now, lift it over your head while making sure your elbow moves away from your side. If you feel pain, slow down.
  4. Now, rotate your hand behind your head as if you’re going to scratch the back of your neck. Don’t make quick movements. Be slow and relaxed.
  5. Reach for your opposite shoulder once your hand is right behind your head. Doing this will bring your shoulder back into its position. If it pops back, you will experience sudden relief of pain. You will be able to move it without so much pain, which means you’ve learned how to pop your shoulder back.

Always keep in mind that it is not always easy to pop your shoulder back, and pain associated with shoulder dislocation can be quite serious. If you experience more pain by moving your shoulder, you should seek immediate medical attention and avoid trying your own newfound knowledge.

Here’s a video that will help you learn how to pop your shoulder back:

Should You Be Worried If Your Shoulder Pops Itself?

You may notice snapping and clicking of your shoulder due to everyday use, and you don’t usually need to worry about it. This is a normal occurrence, especially if you experience no pain.

However, if you experience clicking sound with pain, you should see your doctor. Also, your age will have a role to play here.

  • If you’re under 35, your shoulder noises indicate joint instability. This is more likely the case if you have double-jointed shoulders. With loose joints, it is easy to get the ball part of your arm bone out of the shoulder socket. This may also happen due to an injury to your shoulder muscles. You can resolve it with physiotherapy.
  • If you’re between 35 and 60 years old, you may notice grating accompanied by pain. The pain becomes severe when you reach behind your back or over your head. This usually happens due to impingement syndrome. Due to the wear and tear of regular use, the tendons around your shoulder become inflamed, leading to grating and clicking. Physiotherapy helps correct the issue, but you may sometimes have to take a steroid injection to reduce inflammation and pain. Severe cases sometimes require keyhole surgery.
  • If you’re above 60 and notice a painful grating sensation when you move your shoulder, this could be due to arthritis. An X-ray may help identify the exact cause.

In this Article

  • Causes of Crepitus in Your Shoulders
  • Effects of Shoulder Crepitus on Your Health
  • Treatment of Crepitus in Your Shoulders
  • Preventing Crepitus in Your Shoulders

‌Crepitus is a sound like crackling, grinding, or squeaking in a joint when you move it. Crepitus has many causes. It’s often the result of damage to your cartilage and joint tissue.В

Causes of Crepitus in Your Shoulders

Your shoulder is an important and complex joint. The humerus bone in your upper arm connects to your scapula, or shoulder blade, with cartilage, muscles, and tendons. You may hear noise from your shoulder if any of these connections don’t work the way they should.В

Here are some of the most common causes of shoulder crepitus.‌

Cavitation. Small bubbles of gas can collect in your joints and cause cracking sounds when you move too quickly. This sound is known as cavitation. Cracking your knuckles is another example of cavitation. This type of noise is harmless.

Bursitis. Your joints are protected by cushions known as bursa sacs, or bursae. They keep your joints moving comfortably. But your bursae may swell and become painful when irritated. This can cause a stabbing or warm sensation in your shoulder, along with a snapping sound when you move your arms.

Labral tears. Your labrum is the cartilage that connects your arm and shoulder. You’ll notice frequent or constant pain in the joint if it gets torn because of overuse or injury. You may also have a grinding or popping noise when you move your arm.

Arthritis.Arthritis causes the cartilage in your joints to break down over time. This can lead your bones to touch each other and make clicking or grinding noises.

Shoulder fractures. The bones in your shoulder joint may not heal perfectly after a break. Even hairline fractures in your humerus or scapula can heal into ridges instead of their original smooth condition. This can cause your shoulder joint to make noise when you use your arms.

Osteochondromas. The bones in your shoulder or rib cage may form a benign growth called an osteochondroma. These growths can cause your shoulder to pop or click. But they may not have any other symptoms.

Effects of Shoulder Crepitus on Your Health

If your shoulder joint makes noise sometimes but you don’t notice any pain or discomfort, your shoulder is probably fine. But if you have pain, warmth, or soreness in your shoulder joint along with crepitus, you may need medical treatment.‌

Leaving injuries and arthritis untreated can cause your shoulder joint to get worse over time. Minor damage to your cartilage can add up. Injuries that could have been treated with noninvasive methods may require surgery if they’re ignored for months or years.В

Talk to your doctor about the cause and potential treatments if your shoulder regularly hurts and makes noise when you use it.В

Treatment of Crepitus in Your Shoulders

Your doctor may recommend one of several treatments for the cause of crepitus in your shoulder. Most medical professionals focus on treating underlying conditions and not the noise itself.В

These solutions can help reduce pain and help your shoulder joint heal.

Anti-inflammatory medications. Conditions like osteoarthritis often involve inflammation in the affected joints. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen can help reduce the swelling and pain of arthritis.‌

Physical therapy. Physical therapy can help you regain more use of a joint after an injury. It can help your muscles and tendons recover and become less tight and painful if your shoulder crepitus is from an injury.

Corticosteroid shots. A corticosteroid shot can help ease inflammation and encourage your joint to heal. Your doctor may recommend steroid shots if you have an injury or arthritis that’s causing your shoulder joint to get more painful over time.

Surgery. This may be the best option when shoulder crepitus is connected to a serious injury. Your doctor can repair tendons, remove osteochondromas, or reconstruct the joint. Your joint should be more comfortable, easier to use, and less noisy after the surgery.

Preventing Crepitus in Your Shoulders

You may be able to treat crepitus at home if your shoulders crack sometimes without pain.

Good posture. Slouching may misalign your shoulders. This causes gas bubbles to build up and make noise when you move. Improving your posture may be enough to reduce or stop the noise if your crepitus is caused by cavitation.

Gentle exercise. Strengthening your shoulder joint can help you feel more comfortable and may help prevent cracking noises. Options like yoga can help you build strength without stressing or injuring your shoulders.

Icing the joint.Ice may help if you have a minor shoulder injury that seems connected to the popping noises. Icing your shoulder for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day can reduce swelling and make you more comfortable while you heal.

Show Sources

‌‌American Society for Surgery of the Hand: “Shoulder Arthritis.”

‌‌Aurora Health Care: “Crepitus (Joint Popping).”

‌‌Cleveland Clinic: “Back Health and Posture.”

‌‌Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice: “Can yoga have any effect on shoulder and arm pain and quality of life in patients with breast cancer? A randomized, controlled, single-blind trial.”

‌‌HSS: “Shoulder Replacement.”

‌‌Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Osteochondroma,” “Shoulder Arthritis,” “Shoulder Labrum Tear.”

‌‌MAYO CLINIC: “Arthritis pain: Do’s and don’ts,” “Bursitis,” “Cortisone shots.”

‌Orthopedics: “Management of Snapping Scapula Syndrome.” ‌

‌PLoS One: “Real-Time Visualization of Joint Cavitation.”

Here are the most common mistakes made with the horizontal row (and how to fix them).

How to crack your shoulder blades

The horizontal row is one of the best movements to restore your posture, build your upper back, and fix nagging shoulder pain. It takes many forms:

  • One-Arm Dumbbell Row
  • Chest-Supported Row
  • Barbell Bent-Over Row
  • Cable Row
  • Suspension Row
  • Face-Pull with Band

All of these exercises help retract the shoulders which helps relieve excessive compression on the supraspinatus muscle of the rotator cuff. This will not only lead to less pain, but greater strength gains on your big lifts.

Unfortunately, most people don’t quite grasp how to do this movement effectively. Here are the common mistakes and how to fix them:

Mistake 1: Not Retracting the Shoulder Blades

When you initiate the row, the first thing you should do is squeeze your shoulder blades (scapulae) together to create tension in the upper back.

Forgetting to retract the shoulder blades results in little-to-no upper back engagement during the movement. That means you’re doing all the pulling with your biceps, which should only be a secondary muscle worked in during the row.

Not sure whether or not you’re retracting your shoulder blades? Have someone video you performing a suspension row and compare it to the following:

How to crack your shoulder blades

Proper Shoulder Retraction

How to crack your shoulder blades

Improper Shoulder Retraction

If you look more like the second picture you need to work on your shoulder retraction.

One way to practice getting your upper back involved in the row is by doing “scap rows.” This involves keeping the arm straight and focusing on solely retracting the shoulders. You can do these with any variation of the row, but here are three favorites:

Suspension Scap Row

ne-Arm Dumbbell Scap Row

Chest-Supported Scap Row

Mistake 2: Overactive Traps, Underactive Lats

Another common mistake is forgetting to depress the shoulder blades. When you’re going very heavy on a row, your shoulders will tend to ride up. Your upper traps will become over-activated and could get excessively tight or develop trigger points over time.

Although there’s nothing wrong with going heavy on a row from time to time, if your goal is to develop the upper back then a lighter weight with a full range of motion is the best option. Pulling your shoulder down from your ear (scapular depression) will help you target the lats.

One-Arm Dumbbell Row – Good Lat Activation

One-Arm Dumbbell Row – Poor Lat Activation

One of my favorite ways to get athletes to understand how to effectively row is to create kinesthetic awareness by assisting them with the movement. I do this by pushing down on their shoulders and helping them to retract their shoulder blades. This trains the lifter how to properly depress and retract the scapula, leading to a more effective row.

Assisted Chest-Supported Row

Mistake 3: Humping the Weight

This is solely a result from ego lifting. If your only goal is to see how much weight you can row, you’re eventually going to look like you’re trying to have sex with the barbell.

How to crack your shoulder blades

Shoulder popping or clicking can be caused by arthritis, rotator cuff injuries, impingement or even a tear. The following shoulder exercises will strengthen the rotator cuff and scapula. Over time, they may improve your flexibility and range of motion, so you may want to try them out.

Video of the Day

Causes of Shoulder Popping

If you experience occasional shoulder popping or clicking but no pain, then it’s probably nothing to be worried about, says the Cleveland Clinic. However, if you also feel pain along with the shoulder pops, you may have an injury that needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

As you age, the cartilage that cushions the joints starts to wear away, resulting in rougher surfaces. This may cause clicking or popping. Over time, it may progress to arthritis, a degenerative disorder that causes pain and stiffness. The most common type of arthritis in the shoulder is osteoarthritis or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, says the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Shoulder clicking when raising an arm, along with locking, pain and a feeling of instability could also indicate a glenoid labrum tear, says the AAOS. People who have fallen on an outstretched arm or had a direct blow to the shoulder, as well as throwing athletes, can injure the tissue rim surrounding the shoulder socket, resulting in this type of injury.

Rotator cuff tendonitis, bursitis and impingement are other conditions that may cause shoulder popping. Make sure you see your doctor so he can determine the exact cause. Some shoulder injuries require surgery, while others can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and shoulder strengthening exercises.

1. Rotator Cuff Shoulder Clicking Exercises

Certain exercises can strengthen the rotator cuff muscles supporting your shoulder and maintain your range of motion. To stay safe, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.

Warm up for five to 10 minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike before getting started. Next, try the following exercises for shoulder stretching and strengthening, as recommended by the University of Wisconsin.

​Move 1: Wall Climbing​

  1. Face a wall with your arm straight.
  2. Walk the fingers of your injured arm up the wall.
  3. Keep your shoulder down and don’t let it shrug up.
  4. Go as high as you can to improve and maintain your range of motion.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds and then walk your fingers back down.
  6. Repeat two to four times, trying to climb higher each time.

​Move 2: External Rotator Strengthening​

  1. Tie an exercise band to a doorknob.
  2. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and hold on to the band with your injured arm, with your body facing away from the door.
  3. Rotate the forearm away from your body, keeping your elbow and arm tucked into your body.
  4. The band should provide resistance as you rotate away.
  5. Repeat eight to 12 times.

​Move 3: Internal Rotator Strengthening Exercise​

  1. Tie an exercise band to a doorknob.
  2. Bend your elbow to 90 degrees and hold on to the band with your injured arm. Your body should be facing the door.
  3. Rotate your forearm toward your body as the band provides resistance. Slowly move it back to neutral.
  4. Step away from the door if you need more resistance or step in if you need less.
  5. Repeat eight to 12 times.

2. Scapular Strengthening Exercises

In addition to rotator cuff strengthening exercises and stretches, it’s important to strengthen the shoulder blade, or scapula, if you have shoulder popping, says the University of Wisconsin. These muscles work with the rotator cuff to ensure your shoulder moves correctly. Stop any exercise that causes pain.

​Move 1: Scapular Exercise/Arm Reach​

  1. Lie on your back with arms and elbows straight. Lift your arms without bending your shoulders.
  2. Reach as high as you can toward the sky, keeping your elbows straight.
  3. You should feel your shoulder blades raise off the floor.
  4. Relax and return to normal. Repeat eight to 12 times.

​Move 2: Scapular Retraction/Rows​

I am a 33 yr. old female, 135lbs., 5’3″. No injuries/trauma/breaks/etc.

For the past few weeks when I roll my shoulders or straighten up to correct my posture, my back seems to be cracking and crunching. It’s not like when a joint “pops” (like cracking your knuckles), it does it repeatedly for as long as I keep rolling my shoulders or any other movement that moves that area. I can feel it and it just feels like the bones are in there rubbing around and bumping into each other.

There is no pain when I feel the cracking, although if I sit there and continuously do it, the area becomes a little tender and evenutally the cracking stops (or diminishes).

A few days ago I did have some sudden tenderness in that area (running down my spine and between my shoulder blades), it doesn’t affect any other area. The tenderness felt like a large bruise back there, but I had my husband press in the area and it didn’t hurt when it pressed and palpated the area.

Possibly related. I recently had a mild, brief bout of costochondritis in my left 8th rib, I’ve had that pain off and on for about 8 years. It was an extremely tender spot for about a day and a half and then it completely went away.

I’ve thought it could possibly be related to arthritis, I have arthritis in 3 fingers on my right hand. But what I’m MOST curious about is the cracking/grinding feeling?? Like I said, it DOESN’T feel like the “crack” you feel when you “pop” a joint.

Thank you for any advice and help you might could offer!!

It sounds to me as if there’s a stabilization issue at hand. Have you had any spinal trauma in the past 10 years? Was there an injury 8 years ago when you began noticing the rib pain?

The simplest measures you can take are making sure you’re drinking adequate amounts of water each day. For someone your size, that would be roughly 65oz.

Joint-strengthening supplements, like Glucosamine and Chondroitin, may help as well.

Have you had any image series taken of the area? If not, it might be a good idea to look inside and see if there are any structural abnormalities present.

Lastly, many people like the sensation of having the middle of their back “cracked” by friends or family. If this is the case, and you’re doing this often, I’d encourage you to stop. This experience, while pleasant at the time, can induce hypermobility of the joints, leading to instability.

Thank you for the information! 🙂

I haven’t had any trauma or injuries to my back, it just started randomly.

I have been dehydrated lately and just got back from the ER after having hypokalemia. They’re trying to figure out what’s wrong. so it could be related to the dehydration?? The arthritis in my hand and wrists has been aggravated lately as well.

I’ll increase my water/liquid consumption and see what my doctor finds out (in relation to the dehydration and hypokalemia).

For years my husband would make visits to the chiropractor twice a week to get his back “adjusted”. He was the chiropractor’ s best customer.

Then one day the chiropractor was nice enough to tell my husband how to “crack” his back. Now I have been doing it for several years and he only makes one visit to the chiropractor a year.

Here is what I do to crack it. It’s pretty simple to do and it doesn’t hurt.

Basically the idea is to put slight pressure in the middle of the back so that it “cracks” slightly and relieves pressure and pain. You might get this affect by just having a child sit on your back and it cracks. Just like cracking your knuckles..same idea.

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Have the person that needs to have his or her back cracked lie down on their stomach on a bed. Have their head at the edge and face them.

Next they will need to inhale deeply and then exhale.

Now take one hand and place it over the other hand. Lay your hands in the top middle part of the person’s shoulder blades. When you know that they have exhaled, press both hands firmly down and press with a little of your weight. Move slowly down the middle of the person’s back and repeat. If it works you should hear a small “pop”. I will sound like someone’s cracking their knuckles.

You can also ask the person to lay on the floor on their stomach and then have one of your kids walk on their back. This will have a similar affect. You will hear a “pop”.

If you currently see a chiropractor, ask them to show you how to do this.

Stop immediately if you are uncomfortable. This works for my husband but he has minor back problems. Don’t try this unless you talk to a chiropractor.


Stop doing this if you are uncomfortable or nervous. Ask your chiropractor for advice on how to do this. Talk to your doctor first if don’t have a chiropractor.

The human neck is composed of 7 bones. These bones are coupled together by delicate joints. Injury to the neck can result in one or more of the neck joints locking out of position. This causes pressure on the delicate nerves that are situated close by these joints. The result is pain!

Pain spreading down between your shoulder blades is one of the most common types of neck pain and is usually caused by pressure on the joints and nerves at the bottom of your neck extending into the joints and nerves of the upper back.

How to crack your shoulder bladesWhat Causes Neck Pain spreading down between your Shoulder Blades?

Your neck is the most vulnerable part of your spine. Not only does it support your 4 to 5 kg head, maintain a gentle forward curve, and permit head rotation, but it must also allow the free flow of nerve impulses to the head, face, hands and the rest of your body. Besides discomfort and annoyance, chronic neck pain is a sign that something is wrong.

Many everyday things can cause neck pain, such as watching TV, using your computer, reading a book or falling asleep in a chair or on an airplane. The temporary pain that results can resolve on its own, especially when the offending activity is discontinued. When it doesn’t, a more serious underlying problem may be indicated.

A thorough examination can determine if you’re a good candidate for chiropractic care. These tests may involve your ability to turn and bend. Muscle tone of the supporting muscles in the neck may be tested. Diagnostic imaging to reveal the underlying structure of the spine may be requested. These and other tests are designed to identify the cause and location of your neck pain.

The most common cause of neck pain is functional distortions in the spine resulting from vertebral subluxations. These subluxations are seen in cases of reverse cervical curve, whiplash and joint instability. The body responds by tightening muscles in the neck, “splinting” the joint to protect it from further insult. Chiropractic care can help.

Most of the pain-sensing nerves in the neck are located in the pairs of facet joints on the back side of each vertebra. These smooth, interlocking surfaces allow you to rotate your head and bend your head up and down. If these joints become locked or fixated, neck pain can result. Chiropractic care can help restore proper joint motion.

A more difficult problem to correct is the degenerative changes that result from neglect. Years of uncorrected spinal problems can cause bone spurs, disc thinning and other forms of spinal decay. These types of problems respond more slowly, and some type of on-going supportive chiropractic care may be necessary.

Our response to stress is another common cause of neck pain. Deadlines. Rush-hour traffic. Over commitments. Work pressures. Family obligations…

Ever meet someone who was a “pain in the neck”? Each of us is susceptible to our body’s unconscious response to people and circumstances. These perceptions can show up as episodes of neck pain.

If the weakest link in our bodies is our neck, stress shows up there. While chiropractic care cannot reduce the stress of your busy life, it can help improve your ability to handle and tolerate it. Without drugs or surgery!

Why does the pain spread down between the Shoulder Blade area?

This is because the inflamed joints and nerves affected relate to the muscles and tissues between the Shoulder Blade (scapula) area.

Why did the chiropractor take pictures (x-rays) of my lower back?

Many patients are surprised when their chiropractic examination involves other areas of their body besides the local site of their symptom(s). Some neck pain cases can be a compensation to problems in the feet, knees, hips and lower back. Your chiropractor sees you as a whole person, not just a collection of “parts.”

Will I have to have neck adjustments?

If your problem is the result of abnormal motion or position of spinal bones in the neck, cervical adjustments can be effective. There are many ways to adjust the neck, and your chiropractor has become an experienced master. Years of practice make these spinal adjustments safe and effective. Much safer than common aspirin or muscle relaxers! Chiropractic adjustments are usually quick, gentle and painless.

How long will I need chiropractic care?

Some patients see quick improvement and then immediately discontinue their care. They often suffer a relapse since muscles and soft tissues have not had time to fully heal. Others discover that degenerative changes to their spines make periodic check-ups a worthwhile investment. We’ll make recommendations, but how long you benefit from chiropractic care is up to you.

Safe and Natural

Chiropractic is a team approach to better health. As you enjoy results, tell those you love. Explain how millions enjoy relief and better health by restoring the integrity of their spines and nervous systems with safe and natural chiropractic care.

Contact Mind & Body Chiropractic

If you are suffering from neck pain that spreads down to your shoulder blades, the team at Mind & Body Chiropractic can help you. Arrange for a consultation with one of our specialists today.

Symptoms, Causes & Treatments of Shoulder Cracking

Shoulder concerns are one of the most common reasons patients seek physiotherapy, with 30% of people experiencing shoulder pain at some time in their life.

Many people assume that clicking, popping or cracking sounds in their shoulders is caused by serious injury.

Today we’ll address the possible causes and treatment options for shoulders that click, crack, and pop without any pain.

Important: Shoulders are prone to injury, with 50% of adults 55 years or older having a detectable shoulder muscle tear. If you are experiencing pain along with clicking, popping, and cracking in your shoulder, we suggest you stop reading and book a physiotherapy assessment, as this could be a symptom of a more serious condition or injury.

Symptoms of Cracking Shoulders

The symptoms are simple: a clicking, cracking or popping in your shoulders, usually without pain.

They occur when you lift your arms, do push-ups or bench presses, or even when you’re simply shrugging or rolling your shoulders back.

Even though it doesn’t hurt, it can still be concerning. Let’s look at some potential causes of this issue.

Causes of Cracking Shoulders

Muscle Tendons Moving

Although there could be any number of causes for clicking shoulders, a common one is the muscle tendons moving or flicking across the bony structures in your shoulder.

Your muscle tendons are very strong and stringy, acting almost like guitar strings when they brush or move across your bones. This movement can cause these noises as tendons vibrate over a bone.

If your shoulder suddenly started clicking, popping, or cracking in the past few months, you may have injured the muscle and altered its shape or the track on which it runs. The sudden onset of these sounds may indicate that further shoulder damage is occurring, and treatment is likely required.

Other Minor Causes of Cracking Shoulders

  • Scapulothoracic bursitis: Caused by an inflammation of the bursa, which helps glide movement between the two surfaces.
  • Malunion of fractures of the scapula or ribs: If you’ve experienced a recent fracture of your shoulder or ribs and the bones do not heal properly, they can develop ridges that will be prone to catching and making noise.
  • Labral tears: Damage to the larum, which is a cartilaginous structure that holds the shoulder together.
  • Osteocondroma: A benign bone or cartilage growth in the shoulder, scapula, or rib cage.

Book an assessment with a physiotherapist near you to address clicking, cracking & popping in your shoulders today.

Treatments for Cracking Shoulders

Physiotherapists are experts at realigning movement and making changes to your posture to allow your muscles and bones glide more efficiently, regardless of how serious your condition is.

Below are a few ways that a physiotherapist can reduce or improve the clicking, cracking or popping noises in your shoulders:

  • Posture corrections
  • Modalities to encourage faster healing
  • Stretching/strengthening exercises
  • Activity modifications

If caught and treated early and effectively, you can see an improvement in symptoms within a relatively short period of time.

Book A Physiotherapy Assessment for Cracking Shoulders

If you’re experiencing clicking, cracking or popping in your shoulders, book an appointment with a qualified physical therapist to get a full assessment and treatment plan in place. No doctor referral needed!*

*A doctor referral may be required to access your third party insurance

How to crack your shoulder blades

Protect Your Shoulders & Back In The Gym!

When it comes to proper lifting form, trainers and fitness gurus tend to harp on making sure your lower body lifts are performed properly. A lot of people end up underestimating how technical upper body exercises actually are, and reserve all that technique work for the big compound lower body exercises.

But proper form on upper body lifts is just as important, and is a huge cause of the back, neck and shoulder injuries that I see every day at Ascent Chiropractic. We could go into the minutiae of perfect form for every lift, but today we’re going to discuss the biggest mistake that most people make when it comes to upper body exercises: not retracting (and depressing) your scapulas.

Retract Your Scapulas!

Your scapulas – or shoulder blades – are big, flat triangular bones that rest behind the rib cage and contain the ‘socket’ that form the shoulder joints. The scapulas must sit at the correct height as well as the correct distance from the spine. They set the stage for arm movement and are attachment points for important muscles that support and stabilize the joints of the spine and rib cage.

Unfortunately, unless you’ve had someone providing instruction and feedback, many people assume that everyone just knows intuitively how to perform bench press, rows, pull ups, chest fly, etc because they seem so basic. But failing to put your scapulas in the correct position is just setting yourself up for the nagging shoulder, rib, upper back and neck pain that so many gym-goers deal with.

In fact, even though everyone is quick to blame the rotator cuff, if you’re dealing with shoulder pain during workouts I can almost guarantee that you’re either not retracting your shoulder blades or are flaring your elbows out on chest exercises.

What Do We Mean By Scapular Retraction?

Scapular retraction and depression – which becomes more important as you approach heavier weights – is done by imagining that you are squeezing a stick between your shoulder blades, and then pulling them down (sometimes described as ‘putting your shoulder blades in your back pockets’).

How to crack your shoulder blades

Of course, there will always be some amount of shoulder blade movement with any exercise that moves the upper arm, especially overhead exercises. But if you focus on driving your shoulder blades down especially at initial movement and return you’ll avoid a lot of issues.

Why’s It So Important?

1. You’ll Be Less Injury-Prone
Keeping the shoulder blades in their correct position allows the joints of the shoulder, ribs and upper back to function optimally and relies less on the surrounding muscles and ligaments for support and stabilization.

2. It Improves Your Posture
Most of us spend hours every day hunched over a desk, computer, smartphone, or (in my case) patients with our shoulders rolled forward. Retracting your shoulder blades and activating your latissimus dorsi muscles pulls your shoulders back, stretches out your pecs, makes your chest look bigger and gives you a more confident posture.

3. You’ll Lift Heavier Weights
Retracting and depressing your shoulder blades gives you a firm base of support and makes every upper body lift – especially chest exercises – much more stable.

It also helps isolate the muscles you’re trying to stimulate. For example, when you fail to retract your shoulder blades on a bench press your front deltoids take on most of the work instead of your pecs, drastically reducing the amount of weight you’re able to move.

Next Steps

It’s so simple, but it makes a huge difference – if it feels weird at first don’t worry, you’ll quickly get used to it.

Dealing with nagging gym injuries that just won’t go away? Make sure you’re using proper form and getting adjusted!

Whether you’re a pro athlete or weekend warrior, study after study shows that regular chiropractic care is an essential part of reaching your full potential in the gym. Need a Brookfield chiropractor? To make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic, call 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.

Musculoskeletal causes

Pain under the shoulder blade often arises from muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and even intervertebral discs. Here are the musculoskeletal causes for pain under the shoulder blade:

Muscle strain

Muscle strain at the upper back can happen due to lifting heavy weights or from overuse injuries from overdoing any activity outside of your routine. The muscle fibres are loaded beyond their capacity and get injured. This causes sharp pain and inflammation around and under the shoulder blade.

Poor posture

A poor posture is one that overloads the spine and puts unequal stress over the structures around the spine. Many times, you may have to adopt continuous postures while working. You may be working at your desk as an IT professional, or bending continuously while doing your chores. A poor posture can overload the muscles of the upper back and cause pain under the shoulder blade.


Pain under the shoulder can be caused due to fracture of the shoulder blade. The pain may also extend around the shoulder blade, and makes moving the arm painful.В

Cervical Disc Herniation

Cervical disc herniation causes the ‘slipped’ disc to put increased pressure on the ligaments, nerves, and muscles of the neck and the upper back. The pain is often felt under the shoulder blade due to weakened upper back musculature.


An accident or a fall can cause the shoulder blade and the area around the shoulder to suffer injury. An injury from contact sports, or a hit can also cause pain and inflammation around and under the shoulder pain. The degree of pain would depend on the mechanism and extent of the injury.

Cardiac causes

Though less common than pain in the chest, pain under the shoulder blade may arise from cardiac causes. The possible reasons for pain in this area may be a heart attack or myocardial infarction, aortic dissection, or pericarditis.

Pulmonary causes

Pain under the shoulder blade may arise from pulmonary diseases. Conditions like pneumothorax or pulmonary embolism may also cause pain around the shoulder blade. Lung cancers and Pancoast tumors may also be contributing factors to pain under the shoulder blade.

Abdominal and pelvic causes

Causes of pain under the shoulder blade of abdominal and pelvic origin may occur from gastritis, acid reflux, inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, ectopic pregnancy, or ovarian cyst. This type of pain is called referred pain, though unusual in this area, it is still a possibility.В

Other visceral causes

Among other possible causes of pain under the shoulder blade, shingles, an infection that affects the area supplied by the affected nerve. It causes burning or tingling pain with a preceding rash. Gallstones may also cause pain under the shoulder blade

Malignant causes

Lung cancer, liver cancer, oesophageal cancer, lymphoma, or bone cancer may also lead to pain that may spread to the area under the shoulder blade.

How to relieve pain under the shoulder blade?

  1. Rest

Taking short breaks from postures that cause pain help in reducing the strain over the muscles of the upper back. Sometimes even taking a day off can ease the inflammation of muscles under the shoulder blade.

  1. Correct your posture

Ergonomic changes allow the muscles of the body to work efficiently, without causing any strain. Small ergonomic changes to workplaces and household areas go a long way in reducing postural strain.

  1. Support your back

Using back supports that help you prop yourself up and keep you in the correct posture will further reduce strain in the upper back. Back support not only aligns your spine but also send the right feedback to your brain to reinforce correct posture.

  1. Apply a hot or cold pack

Using a hot or cold pack temporarily reduces any pain or inflammation that occurs due to muscle strain at the upper back. Use them for at least ten minutes two to three times a day.

  1. Stretching exercises

You can perform basic upper back stretches to relieve any tension in the muscles. Performing basic stretches in your routine can also help in preventing muscle strain in the upper back.

  1. Seek treatment

Pain in the shoulder blade requires a thorough assessment. Seeking treatment is the best way to alleviate pain effectively.

How to prevent pain under the shoulder blade?

  1. Learn the correct postures for every task

Whether working from home or cooking in your kitchen, learn the best postures to perform each task. Learning which postures help in reducing strain over your body will help you to consciously work towards good postures.

  1. Take regular breaks

Taking regular breaks every few hours helps in relieving any strain that may have accumulated in the structures of your body, particularly the postural muscles.

  1. Watch your diet, take supplements

A balanced diet along with the supplements your body requires will keep your body in the best of health. Muscles fatigue easily if you are not adequately hydrated, or if they lack essential nutrients. Poor nutrition of muscles and bones makes them more susceptible to injury.

  1. Exercise regularly

Keeping an active routine helps your body to maintain the strength and flexibility of your body. Regular exercise, whether yoga, pilates, swimming, or gymming, will contribute towards a healthy lifestyle to keep you pain free.

Reviewed on 8/20/2018 by: Hugh Hugh K. Duckworth, MD

The goal of today’s article is to help you learn more about the anatomy of the rhomboids, the origin and the cause of the pain, how to accurately diagnose it, and offer some practical exercises you can follow to help yourself.

Rhomboid strain is a term used loosely to describe a stretch or a tear in the muscles. Another common condition involving these muscles is known as rhomboid spasm – this is a sudden, involuntary tightening of the muscle which may result in muscle knots.
The rhomboid muscles are a deep set of muscles of the upper back. They connect the medial edge of the shoulder blade to the spine.

Table of Contents:

Rhomboid Muscles – Location, Attachments and Function

First of all, notice we said “muscles” instead of “muscle”; many people make the same mistake not knowing that there are two rhomboid muscles in our back:

  • Rhomboid major (large) and
  • Rhomboid minor (small)

Rhomboid Major

Rhomboid major arises from the spinous processes of the second, third, fourth and fifth thoracic vertebrae (Spinous process is a bony projection off the back of the vertebra, it can be felt under the skin 1 ) and attaches to the triangular surface at the root of the spine of the scapula (scapular spine is a bony prominence which divides the back surface of the shoulder blade into two portions).

Rhomboid Minor

Rhomboid minor arises from the spinous processes of the seventh cervical, first thoracic vertebra and lower part of the nuchal ligament (ligament located at the back of the neck formed of supraspinosus ligaments) and attaches to the triangular surface of the scapular spine.

Muscles Functions: the main functions of these muscles are:

  • To stabilize the scapula and hold it onto the rib cage
  • Retract the scapula – pull it towards the spine, and
  • Elevate medial border of the scapula

Definition – What Is A Rhomboid Strain?

How Does It Occur And What Are Its Common Causes?

Rhomboid strain is most commonly caused by shoulder and arm overuse. Activities which are known to cause this muscle strain are :

  • Lifting your arm above your head – serving in tennis of stacking things on higher shelves for instance
  • Carrying a heavy backpack – carrying a heavy backpack can cause rhomboid strains and spasms but it can also promote poor posture (if the backpack is too heavy or if it is worn over one shoulder)
  • Rowing – either in the gym or participating in the sport
  • Poor posture – poor posture (sitting at your desk or at your PC) will may weaken your muscles, put additional strain to them and lead to back pain. You can find out more about posture here – Good Posture Can Change Your Life
  • Lifting things off the ground – when lifting (heavier) things off the ground, you should always use your legs rather than your back. Intense, sudden lifting can pull the muscles of the back and cause strains and injuries


Your healthcare provider will first take your medical history, specifically asking about any similar shoulder or upper back injuries, and any potential co-existing diseases that could affect or be responsible for your pain. You will also be asked to provide more information regarding the circumstances of the injury – when did you first experience pain, are there any other symptoms, what activity you were involved in when you injured yourself or if you play sports.

Then comes physical examination (palpation) of your shoulders, upper back and area around the inner edge of the scapula. The doctor will also ask you to move your arm to determine the range of motion and the extent of the injury.

Rhomboid Strain Symptoms

  • Pain between shoulder blades – this pain is usually felt between shoulder blades and the spine (since this is where the muscle is located); it can get worse when moving your arms
  • Pain when taking deep breaths
  • Palpable muscle knots
  • Tenderness in the upper back area


Since these injuries are usually not severe, they are treated non-surgically: treatment usually involves a combination of exercises, stretches and over-the-counter medication (to ease intense pain). If the injury is less severe, recovery process might take only a couple weeks, but if the damage to the muscles is severe, it may take up to 6 weeks or even longer.

Home Treatment

  1. Ice packs – you can use ice packs, crushed ice, gel pack or even some frozen foods, wrap it in a cloth (to avoid direct skin contact) and hold for 20-30 minutes. You should repeat this process every 3-4 hours, in the first couple days
  2. NSAIDs – your healthcare provider will usually recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication to help with the pain and inflammation; most common ones are: ibuprofen or aspirin. Make sure you use correct dosage the doctor specified and take them with food since they may damage the lining of your stomach
  3. Heat – heat is is good for relaxing tense muscles and breaking those tight muscle knots. You can place warmed towels on your back or opt-in for a heating pad. NOTE: do not apply heat if you notice swelling, heat is not usually helpful with infections, only muscle spasms
  4. Self-massage – massaging yourself is tricky enough but when it comes to upper back, it is close to impossible. But you can use a tennis ball: place your ball on the floor and lie over it so that it presses the muscles of your upper back; then roll the ball gently over the tense muscles of your back. Alternatively, you can buy a back massager for breaking up knots in your back. One of the best ones on the market today is Body Back Buddy Trigger Point Massager! You can find out more about this weird looking device on if you Click Here

Stretches and Exercises

Before engaging in any stretches and exercises for rhomboid strain relief, you should consult your doctor. You need to determine your capabilities, severity of the injury and the best exercises for your specific condition. After that, you can employ the ones we outlined below:

Upper Back Stretch:

  • Stretch your arms in front of your body and clasp them together
  • Reach forward and bend your head
  • Feel the stretch in your upper back and neck and hold it for up to 30 seconds
  • Repeat up to 5 times

Variation: if you want a “more intense” stretch, instead of just extending your arms, grab onto something and lean back.

Perpetuated by P.E. coaches, bootcamp instructors, personal trainers, and semi-fit college roommates…

the push-up is a key culprit that’s destroying shoulders.

Which is unfortunate because the exercise is awesome! It targets the arms, chest, back, and core, all with zero equipment needed. No one should ever head to the beach without a few sets.

But the problem with the push-up is that it gets no respect! Form is too often neglected for the sake of more reps. Or it’s assumed that basic bodyweight exercises are a god-given right—and don’t need modifications or any amount of prerequisite strength.

But this mindset hinders results and sets the shoulder up for injury.

It’s time to “Make push-ups great again.”

Start Position

Every push-up article ever written will say the head, back, hips, and heels should align— don’t lift or sag the hips.

This is very true, but “core strength” is not always the problem. While the core muscles do support the back alignment… Shoulder stability is more often a bigger part of the problem!

Because even the strongest table top, needs sturdy legs to support it, or else it is still a junky table.

To create shoulder stability protract the scapula! This means driving the shoulder blades around the sides of your body.

Notice the saggy low back in this demo. Every coach and trainer in the world would scream about tightening the core. But the root of the issue is poor protraction:

How to crack your shoulder blades

Here the protracted scapula cleans up the alignment:

How to crack your shoulder bladesTry this out yourself by holding a plank on the hands and toes. Squeeze the shoulder blades back and together and notice what happens to the back. Now protract the shoulders and notice the immediate strength improvement.

Shoulder Position

It’s key to performance and shoulder health that the elbows stay tucked during the move. Fortunately, there is no shortage of stock photography of fitness models demoing this push up problem…

How to crack your shoulder blades

You can see from the photo above the elbows moving away from the body—this is bad!

First, think about giving someone a push like this, it’s assured that the opponent is not falling over.

But regardless of the ability to produce force, it puts the shoulder into impingement. This means the space in the shoulder narrows and compresses tissue. Add in a workouts worth of repetition and it’s a recipe for shoulder pain, and over the course of thousands of workouts it’s rotator cuff disaster.

The below picture is optimal. Not flaring up, but not too close to the body either (this would limit the involvement of the bigger chest muscles).

How to crack your shoulder blades(This is how far your arms should be from your body when performing push-ups.)

Vertical Forearm

I will share a strength secret… press with vertical forearms.

That goes for bench press, shoulder press, and all variations between; with dumbbells, barbells, or any other weight.

Keep the weight stacked over the elbow, this optimizes mechanics for a stronger press.

This is the same for push-ups. Putting the hands too narrow or too wide, will impact strength and proper mechanics. So find a hand position in which the forearm stays almost completely vertical to the floor.


A perfect push-up should touch the chest to the floor. A half rep push-up not only limits training results, but it’s not great for shoulder health either.

Bad shoulder position or hand position (discussed above), is one reason for partial reps. For example, imagine the shoulder contortion needed to go any lower in the push-up pictured below?

How to crack your shoulder blades

Otherwise, strength is the primary factor limiting the depth of push-ups.

I understand that everyone has to start somewhere! But doing only half reps never progresses to full reps (which we will have a solution for shortly).

And partial rep are also hard on the shoulders!

First of all, stopping the body halfway down, and then reversing direction causes a lot of shoulder strain. Think of the force needed to stop a rolling car and then push it the other direction.

By doing a full rep push-up there is a barrier to help stop your forward momentum. And then reorganize to push the other way. I’m not saying it’s an easier rep, but there is less stress on the supporting tendons.

There is also no strength limiter on one’s ability to bang out partial rep push-ups. Check out Michelle Obama and Ellen bang out some partial rep push-ups…

If the only push-up rule is bend the elbows, both Michelle and Ellen would continue to rep out their “push-ups” by shortening their range of motion.

Therein lies the problem…

By “cheating” movements, it’s easy to add a ton of volume on top of already weak mechanics. Thus the motivation to do more reps, rather than better reps, is usually what results in pain and injury.

Better Push-Up Plan

Here is a plan to build better push-ups. This means doing better push-ups, even if that starts with 1 rep and using modifications.

1. Start by working on the plank position. On the hands and toes, shoulders protracted, with the glutes, core, and shoulders tight.

2. The next step is a modified push-up. There are 2 ways to do this:

Elevating the torso decreases the strength required to complete the rep. As strength progresses, lower the angle for more difficulty.

Or without an incline, press up from the knees. But then lift to a full plank (on toes) and lower on the hands and toes.

3. Now it’s time for the real deal. Lower the chest all the way to the deck. Take a second, brace the abs, tighten the hips, and then drive the floor away to the perfect plank that started the movement

4. Once you’ve got full push-ups, start building them with time rather than reps. A conversion of 2 seconds for every 1 rep is reasonable.

Example: A workout class or program has 25 reps prescribed (but you’ve only got 5 good full depth reps). Rather than doing 25 half reps, convert the reps to 50 seconds, and work for that long. Rest as needed between reps to make each one good. As strength progresses, more reps will get done in the time you’ve got.

Following these guidelines, will save your shoulders from crappy push-ups, and do much more to make you strong.

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

How to crack your shoulder blades

What does a Pinched Nerve in the Shoulder Blade Mean?

Your nerves are surrounded by a mixture of cartilage, muscles, bones, and tendons. Due to how much freedom we have in our motions, it’s not uncommon for a nerve to get a little squashed every now and then.

Unfortunately, a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade is very unpleasant.

The “pins and needles” sensation you feel from resting on your arm is an example of what happens when a nerve is temporarily compressed.In some cases, the pressure on the nerve is more long-term and creates what’s known as a “pinched nerve”. These mainly happen in the shoulder blade area because of how much movement goes on in that area.

In this article:

Pinched nerve in shoulder blade can range from mild annoyances to crippling impediments to a normal quality of life, so getting them addressed is always important.

Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in the Shoulder Blade

Due to how signals are transmitted through the body, a pinched nerve in the shoulder can cause symptoms elsewhere in the body. If you are worried that you have a pinched nerve, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Pain: Whether it is a burning, throbbing, or shooting pain, a pinched nerve is likely going to cause some form of hurt. This can come from the compressed nerve itself or the muscle spasms that in the shoulder blade sometimes accompany them. The pain from a pinched nerve sometimes seems to be radiating or traveling along one part of the body as well.
  • Weakness: Nerves affect how your muscles operate and a pinched nerve will affect your shoulder blades and shoulders in general. You will likely find it difficult to lift objects or even raise your arms over your head. Weaknesses in grip or mobility can affect a single hand or the entire arm, depending on which nerve is affected.
  • Tingling: As mentioned above, the pins and needles sensation of a limb having fallen asleep happens when a nerve is compressed. This is called paresthesia and can also be accompanied by numbness along the affected area.

The specific location and frequency of the symptoms will depend on a combination of what is causing the pinching, which nerve is being affected, and how severe the problem is. Symptoms of a pinched nerve in shoulder blade can come in waves, have a more ongoing presence, or simply appear and vanish quickly.

Causes of a Pinched Nerve in the Shoulder Blade

  • Swelling or inflammation: Pinched nerves tend to arise when nearby swelling begins to cause compression. Carpal tunnel syndrome for instance occurs when there is a pinched nerve in the wrist area; it can cause the surrounding tendons or ligaments to swell. Swelling and inflammation can also be caused by repetitive stress, poor posture, or illness.
  • Injury: The nerves around the shoulder blades can become pinched between bone spurs around your spinal discs. Bone spurs are little outgrowths of bone that grow on top of normal bone, but they can also occur naturally as the spine compresses while we age.
  • Illness: Lupus, diabetes, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and many other conditions can trigger swelling in your joints and result in a pinched nerve. Obstructions like cysts or tumors can also play a part in this.
  • Posture: Poor posture and weight distribution can put undue pressure on the nerves in your shoulder blade. This can be attributed to posture habits, pregnancy, obesity, and even having large breasts.

How to Treat Symptoms of a Pinched Nerve in the Shoulder Blade

Once you have gotten confirmation from a medical professional that you have a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade, the next step is finding a way to treat it. This usually calls for treating the underlying cause, if any, but there are also steps that can be taken to mitigate the symptoms:

1. Get enough rest: At the most basic level, resting is a direct means of easing the pain caused by a pinched shoulder nerve. Generally speaking, you will want to avoid moving the affected arm or your neck when possible. Modifying your sleeping posture may also be advised, but it will depend on the exact nerve in question.

2. Use a traction collar: Depending on the nerve, you may end up wearing a traction collar to help keep your neck immobile. The physician who makes the diagnoses will be able to provide more tailored advice.

3. Hot and cold therapy: Compresses can also be used to soothe swelling and inflammation. Apply a hot compress on the site for around fifteen minutes and then swap to a cold compress for another fifteen minutes. Repeat as needed until the area feels better.

4. Over-the-counter painkillers: As with many medical problems, drugs can help as well. Specifically non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) or painkillers in either over-the-counter or prescription form.

5. Honey and cinnamon paste: If you want to try a natural remedy, you can also make a paste of honey and cinnamon to apply to the shoulder area. Let it sit for around ten minutes before washing it off.

Exercises for Pinched Shoulder Nerves

Physical therapy is also an option to treat a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade. A physical therapist can work you through exercises designed to strengthen the muscles and relieve pressure.

They can also offer advice on how to modify your everyday activities to avoid further triggering the nerve. Two quick examples of possible exercises they can suggest for pinched nerve in shoulder blade:

  • The pendulum: Lie down on the bed and let one arm hang over the side. Slowly swing it back and forth. This may trigger pain, but bear it if you can. Increase your speed as the pain subsides and continue for 30 seconds to a full minute. As you perform the exercise over several days, try to increase your endurance time.
  • Arm circles: Stand in an open area and extend your arms with hands outstretched so you are making a T with the floor. Begin to rotate your arms in small circles for about ten seconds, and then stop and repeat in the opposite direction. Two sets of ten seconds on each arm is a good goal.

Just because your nerve is getting trapped doesn’t mean you have to be. If you have a pinched nerve in shoulder blade, speak to your doctor about ways you can be treated and improve your quality of life.

The elbow:

Do you lean toward your computer, resting your weight on your elbows? Do you lean on your elbows while driving or watching television? These repetitive positions can lead to a pinched nerve in your elbow. This is a different injury than tennis elbow. In tennis elbow, the pain is due to inflamed tendons rather than pinched nerves.

The knee:

If you sit with your legs crossed, you could end up with a pinched nerve in your knee. Crossing your legs at the knee can injure the peroneal nerve.

The neck and shoulder:

Pain and tingling from this injury may travel into the arm.

The lower back:

Pain from this injury is caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve travels from your lower back and into your leg.

The upper thigh:

Results from the compression of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve

Carpal tunnel:

Resulting from an injury of the median nerve in the wrist.

A pinched nerve in the shoulder blade is not a life-threatening injury, but it can be debilitating and interfere with your quality of life.

Causes of Pinched Nerves in the Shoulder Blade

How to crack your shoulder blades

While anyone can suffer a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade, there are certain factors that make the injury more likely .

Poor posture:

Poor posture can be a habitual slouching, or it may have a biological component such as large breasts. Women who are large breasted have an increased risk of pinched nerves in the shoulder blade. They should always wear a well fitted bra to support the breasts and improve posture.


This is another cause of pinched nerves in the shoulder blade. Pregnancy can lead to swelling, which will place pressure on nerves and the pathways of the nerves, leading to pinched nerves .

Carpal tunnel syndrome:

Carpal tunnel syndrome is another risk that affects women more than men. Repetitive motions of the hand are the most common cause of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. We see this injury most commonly with movements that involve bending your wrist or making the same wrist movements again and again .

Indirect injury:

A pinched nerve may occur in an area near one that has swelling or inflammation from an injury. Repetitive stress can also lead to this inflammation, as can poor posture or even some illnesses . Overexertion of the arm can lead to compressed nerves and pain that radiates to the shoulder blade . In other words, a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade may have had nothing to do with a direct injury to the shoulder blade itself .

Direct injury or physical process:


The muscles and nerves surrounding the shoulder may become compressed when they are exposed to excess weight . This can cause a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade.

Medical conditions:

Some medical conditions can have adverse effects on the body, resulting in a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade . Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause damage to bony structures and compress nerves. Tumors, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, cysts, and lupus are a few other diseases that can lead to compression and pinched nerves .

Symptoms of Pinched Nerves in the Shoulder Blade

While the reasons for pinched nerves in the shoulder blade may differ, the symptoms are largely the same no matter the cause.

People suffering from a pinched nerve describe the pain as aching, sharp, stinging, or burning in nature . The pain may also radiate, or travel, to other neighboring parts of your body. This can include pain in your hands, shoulders, neck and arms depending on the exact location of the compressed nerve . Sometimes, though, a pain in your neck and headaches may indicate a pinched nerve in the neck itself. Repositioning your arm, neck and head may provide relief from the pain, but if it doesn’t, the compression may be severe .

Compressed nerves can lead to painful muscle spasms. If the compression is not addressed and relieved, chronic pain and permanent damage can result .

Numbness and tingling:

These sensations are common for those suffering a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade . The feeling is reported as numbness, pins and needles similar to the feelings you get when your arm or shoulder is asleep . The numbness and tingling may come and go randomly or be related to the position of your body. The location of these symptoms will depend on where the nerve is compressed . If left untreated, the symptoms will worsen and become chronic.

Can A Chiropractor Treat a Pinched Nerve in the Shoulder Blade?

What to Expect from a Chiropractic Visit

On your first visit, your chiropractor will examine your area of pain. Chiropractors perform tests to identify the root cause of your pain. Then they propose a treatment plan that will work for you. The doctor has many treatment therapies available for pinched nerves.

Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression:

This is a technique that uses a special table that will reduce pressure and realign your spinal nerves and vertebrae .

Your Franklin chiropractor will use gentle manipulation techniques to ease pressure and adjust the spine .

Other specialized treatments:

Your chiropractor has many other treatments available as well. Your complete treatment plan may include ice pack applications, ultrasound treatments, and electrotherapy. These procedures are designed to ease pain, reduce inflammation, and reduce muscle spasms.

If you are experiencing the pain and disability of a pinched nerve in the shoulder blade or anywhere else, don’t let it go untreated . You may be risking permanent damage to your nerves. Call your chiropractor, or if you are Nashville, TN Crist Chiropractic, for an evaluation and a treatment plan that will get you back on track fast.

In this Article

  • What to Expect During Recovery
  • Looking Ahead

See your doctor right away if you fall and hurt your shoulder. If it’s broken, quick treatment can speed your recovery.

First, your doctor will carefully check the injury to see where and how bad it is. So expect a physical exam and an X-ray. After that, you may need to get a CT scan, which is a powerful X-ray that makes detailed pictures inside your body.

Your doctor will then suggest a treatment plan. It depends on the location of your break. Your shoulder is made up of three bones, and a fracture usually involves one of them:

  • Shoulder blade (scapula)
  • Collarbone (clavicle)
  • Arm bone (humerus)

Here’s what to expect with each kind of fracture:

Shoulder blade. It’s protected by your chest and layers of muscle, so a fracture there isn’t that common. But if you do break it, you probably won’t need surgery. Instead, your doctor will give you a sling that holds your arm in place and keeps it still while the bone heals. You can also expect a prescription for pain medicine and instructions to apply ice.

If the break is in both the shoulder blade and another part of your shoulder, you may need an operation. A surgeon uses plates and screws to put the bones into place and hold them together.

Collarbone. It usually heals without surgery. Your doctor may fit you with a sling to hold your arm still.

If the bone comes through the skin, or if it’s fractured in more than one place, you may need an operation. Just like with shoulder surgery, your doctor will need to hold it together with plates, screws, or pins.

Arm bone. It’s the area closest to your shoulder. A break there can heal without surgery if the bones haven’t shifted apart. You’ll need to wear a sling while it heals.

If the break is serious, a surgeon will put in pins, plates, and screws. In some cases, you might need a total shoulder replacement.

What to Expect During Recovery

Your shoulder has a lot of work to do in order to heal. First, the bones have to grow back together just right. Then they need to regain their strength. Finally, they must be able to work like they used to. To help your shoulder accomplish all those tasks, your doctor may refer you to a specialist like one of these:

  • Physiatrist, a doctor trained in nerve, muscle, and bone recovery
  • Physical therapist, who uses movement and exercises to help you get your shoulder back to normal
  • Occupational therapist, who helps you do your day-to-day activities as you heal

Looking Ahead

Your risk of breaking a bone is greater after a fracture, so take extra care. Your doctor will go over ways to avoid falls. For instance, they may suggest you:

  • Keep good posture.
  • Avoid risky activities.
  • Do bone-strengthening exercises.

Show Sources

National Osteoporosis Foundation: “What is Osteoporosis?”

Graham, P. Osteoporosis Clinical Updates, published online February 2011.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: “Recommendations for Enhancing the Care of Patients with Fragility Fractures,” “Shoulder Trauma (Fractures and Dislocations),” “Clavicle Fracture (Broken Collarbone).”

Pesce, V. Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism, 2009.

National Osteoporosis Foundation: “Recovering from Falls.”

The shoulder blades or the scapulae as they are medically termed are the muscles present in the upper back. These muscles aretriangular in shape and flex when there is movement involving the back and arms. The shoulder blade plays a key role in moving the shoulders, which is possible due to the presence of these shoulder blade muscles.

What Are the Muscles in the Shoulder Blade?

Like every other muscle in the body, shoulder blade muscles are tissues which contract and relax based on the activity of the body. The shoulder blade is a flat bone on the thoracic wall. This bone has three groups of muscles attached to it. They are as follows:

1. The Extrinsic Muscles

These belong to the second group of shoulder blade muscles. They include the triceps, biceps and deltoid muscles. These muscles originate from the torso and attach to the clavicle, scapula or humerus. The deltoid muscle gets its name from the Greek letter delta which is how the muscle is shaped.

Function: Like the intrinsic muscles, the extrinsic muscles are in control of certain activities of shoulder joint.

2. The Intrinsic Muscles

The intrinsic muscles originate in the scapula or calvicle and attach to the humerus, the shoulder bone. These muscles are the infraspinatus, teres minor, subscapularis and supraspinatus. These muscles along with humeral abduction are also the muscles of the rotator cuff.

Function: They control the external and internal rotation of shoulder joint.

3. Third Group

This group of muscles includes levator scapulae, serratus anterior, rhomboid and trapezius muscles which attach to the inferior, medial and superior borders of the scapula.

Function: These muscles essentially stabilize the rotation of the scapula.

What Causes Pain in Shoulder Blade Muscles?

There can be many reasons for pain in the shoulder blade muscles, which can range from poor posture to lung cancer. Getting it examined is the key to finding out the exact cause of the pain. Some of the causes are:

1. Poor Position

The body posture is very important as the muscles in the body contract and relax based on the room available for their movement. Certain postures don’t sit well with these muscles. Activities like driving for too long, sitting still at workplace, holding an object for far too long, sleeping on the sides and lifting weights cause pain in the shoulder blade muscles. This is because the muscles are left in the contracted state for too long and the muscles being locked in place take time to relax. In case of weight lifting, the muscles can be strained.

2. Flu or Cold

One of the most common symptoms of cold or flu is body aches. The shoulder blade muscles also ache in this process but the pain is temporary. A hot compress can relieve shoulders of this pain.

3. Bursitis

Small sacs filled with fluid are called bursae which are located between the bones and the shoulder blade muscles. These bursae provide a cushioning effect during muscle contraction and relaxation. If there is a swelling in these fluid filled sacs, a person experiences significant amount of muscle pain.

4. Torn Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff provides movement for the shoulder. In some people, this cuff is overused and when strained, there is severe pain experienced in the shoulders. This should blade muscle pain is inescapable as all the movements in the shoulders are based on the rotator cuff.

5. Compressed Nerve

There are instances when shoulder blade muscles’ nerves are pinched or compressed, causing shoulder pain. This condition can be relieved with medications like topical ointments, medications or liquid pain relievers. If the pain persists, people are advised to go for physiotherapy.

6. Other Causes

  • Gallbladder. Patients with issues in their gallbladder will feel the pain radiate from the gallbladder to their shoulders, especially the shoulder blades.
  • Inflammation: Certain inflammations in the organs can cause the pain to radiate to shoulder blade muscles. Such inflammations can occur in the pericardium, pleura or pancreas.
  • Severe diseases: People are advised to take pain in the shoulder blades seriously as this could also mean severe illness like a heart attack, a diseased liver, breast cancer, etc. Besides, lung related issues like pneumonia and pulmonary embolism can also radiate the pain to shoulder blade muscles.

How to Deal With Painful Shoulder Blade Muscles

Like it has been mentioned before, these muscles are like any other muscles in the body. Their strain contractions can cause the pain which can be relieved with the following home remedies or medical treatments:

The ChiroTrust Pledge

January 1, 2019 by ChiroTrust

How to crack your shoulder blades

When people think of chiropractic care, they usually imagine back pain, neck pain, and headaches, as research STRONGLY supports chiropractic treatment for these complaints. But what about chiropractic care for shoulder pain?

In 2010 and again in 2014, the United Kingdom government published landmark studies that reviewed previously published research on various forms of treatment for MANY conditions, both musculoskeletal and non-musculoskeletal (like asthma). These reviews noted there is favorable scientific evidence for the use of chiropractic treatment with regards to shoulder-related conditions including shoulder girdle pain/dysfunction, rotator cuff pain, and adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder).

When doctors of chiropractic approach treatment for patients with shoulder pain, care typically focuses on restoring shoulder range of motion using various manipulative and mobilization techniques directed at the three joints of the shoulder: the glenohumeral (the ball & socket joint), the acromioclavicular (AC) joint (clavicle & scapula), and the scapulothoracic joint (shoulder blade & rib cage). Chiropractic care may also include exercise training focused on restoring motion, strength, and stability to the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the shoulder region. A host of physical therapy modalities are also utilized as adjunctive procedures in many chiropractic settings at various stages of healing following shoulder injury. The goal of care is to return patients to their normal level of everyday function.

But what about shoulder pain AFTER surgery? Can chiropractic still help? A 2018 study found that post-surgical patients who received mid-back (thoracic spine) manipulation experienced significant increases in shoulder movement (flexion and abduction) and increased subacromial space measurements (in neutral and external rotation). The authors cited other studies that reported similar improvements in shoulder mobility as well as shoulder blade (scapular) kinematics (movement & stability).

Another study looked at changes in shoulder pain, disability, and perceived recovery after two sessions of upper thoracic and upper rib manipulation in patients with shoulder pain. Here too, participants reported significant improvement in all parameters tested that persisted for up to three months.

Given the solid research support of manual therapies directed at not only the shoulder but also to the neck, upper, and mid-back spinal regions, chiropractic care for patients with shoulder pain is simply a must!

Thousands of Doctors of Chiropractic across the United States and Canada have taken “The ChiroTrust Pledge”: “To the best of my ability, I agree to provide my patients convenient, affordable, and mainstream Chiropractic care. I will not use unnecessary long-term treatment plans and/or therapies.”

To locate a Doctor of Chiropractic who has taken The ChiroTrust Pledge, google “The ChiroTrust Pledge” and the name of a town in quotes.

(example: “ChiroTrust Pledge” “Olympia, WA”)

Trifs86685 over a year ago

Hi I am new here and need some advice about my problem. I am 112 lbs, 5’6″ and I started muscle training in my gym mainly doing bench presses, pull downs and sit ups. I was getting good results and put on about 8 lbs in 2 or so months.

Then 7 weeks ago, on holiday when I was sitting down, I felt this really bad pain in my back on my right shoulder blade, very sore. Now I am not sure what caused this but I am pretty sure that I must have pulled a muscle a few days before in the gym. As this was in a different gym I was using a machine where you push out as far as you can stretch.

About 4 weeks later (3 weeks ago) the pain has also gone into 3 more areas: my front muscle just around my collar bone, half way down my arm and about an inch underneath my arm pit, almost like a ring around. My back shoulder blade doesn’t hurt as bad as it did 7 weeks ago.

I then went to see a chiropractor and she said its a pulled muscle and I need to ice pack it everyday, get someone to massage it and do an exercise in which I roll a towel up, lay it on my bed and lie on it so it runs up and down my back, which should help push out my chest. She said I have bad posture and hunch forward which makes my shoulder blade muscles weak and caused this problem. She then said it needs to be worked on, so I let her massage my back and press on the area, boy did it hurt bad after.

5 days later the pain lifted a little back to the way it was and then got worse, so I returned to her last week and she worked on it again this time pushing under hard my arm pit and my back. And now it still is really hurting and I don’t know what to do anymore. I am not sure if this is working as all it does it make it worse for a few days then reverts back to the normal level of pain.

It hurts the most if I move my arm back and touch my back side and bring my arm forward again and when I shrug my shoulders like saying “I dunno”

I am in really bad pain, it hurts so much and is really really depressing me lately as I can’t do anything. I need to be able to drive again and start training in the gym as I have lost all the muscle that I put on before

Please please can anyone help, am I right in what I am doing? Is there anything else I can do as I don’t fully understand it.

How to crack your shoulder bladesCrepitus is the medical term for a grinding, creaking, or grating sound or sensation that occurs when moving a joint. It can be produced by friction between bone and cartilage or the fractured parts of a bone when speaking in the context of bone joints. Crepitus can occur at any age, but more commonly develops as people get older.

In the majority of cases, crepitus develops due to everyday use and changes that occur over time within the joint. It is usually a painless sensation and not of much concern from a medical standpoint. However, if crepitus is associated with pain upon moving the joint, further investigation is often warranted.

Sustaining a significant injury to a joint, such as the shoulder, can lead to the development of crepitus as well. In certain instances, having sensations of popping or clicking in the shoulder joints could signify a potential problem with your shoulder.

What causes shoulder crepitus?

Most of the time, the cause of crepitus can be predicted by a person’s age. If they are under the age of 30, chances are that their shoulder clicking sounds are the result of repetitive use or previous injury that has lead to loosening of the shoulder ligaments. This may be seen in young athletes that participate in contact sports. Those over the age of 55 with crepitus in the shoulder most likely suffer from degenerative changes in the joint itself.

The following are some of the common reasons for shoulder crepitus development:

Labral tears

The shoulder joint is comprised of a ball and socket which fit into each other effortlessly. A ring composed of dense fibrous tissue surrounds the shoulder joint socket called the labrum. It also serves as an attachment for the ligaments and helps the ball of the shoulder stay in position. If the labrum of the shoulder becomes torn or damaged from any sort of injury or repetitive stress it may result in the formation of crepitus. Those who have painful crepitus due to labral tears and don’t respond physical therapy may require surgery. Tears on the top of the labrum are referred to as a SLAP lesion.

Rotator cuff tears

The rotator cuff is the part of the shoulder joint that is comprised of a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint and helps to keep the head of the upper arm bone firmly within the ball socket. If the rotator cuff tendons become torn, a loose edge within the shoulder can catch on other ligaments or structures in the shoulder leading to painful crepitus. In cases of rotator cuff tendinosis, inflammation can also develop leading to further shoulder joint damage. The inflammatory process of joint is often called bursitis and may cause additional swelling leading to a clicking or popping sensation.

Shoulder dislocation

Typically occurs due to an acute injury, shoulder dislocations are a common cause of shoulder crepitus. Injury to the shoulder leads to the joint becoming looser and lead the ball of the shoulder to slide up or over the edge of the socket. When this ball falls back into place, a snapping or popping sounds can be appreciated.


Due to loss of cartilage surrounding the joint, cushioning that previously lined it is lost. This results in the surfaces of the shoulder bones to rub against each other during movement. The bones of the shoulder are naturally rough in nature and therefore cause clicking, snapping or popping sounds when cartilage is absent.

What are the symptoms of shoulder crepitus?

Symptoms may include sounds or sensations of:

  • Crackling
  • Grinding
  • Cracking
  • Creaking
  • Grating
  • Popping

If these symptoms occur without pain on movement, it is not considered a genuine issue. However, if pain were to be present, the condition should be taken seriously with medical treatment being pursued. It is important to note that the term crepitus is not exclusive to only joints, as it may be used to describe a crackling sound heard in the lungs of certain lung disorders.

Exercises for shoulder crepitus

Performing certain gentle exercises can help preserve function, increase strength and increase the range of motion in cases of crepitus. However, these exercises should be avoided if you are experiencing pain with your shoulder movements.

The following are easy to perform exercises you can try at home today:

Pendulum warm-up

This exercise warms up the rotator cuff of the shoulder. Sit toward the front edge of a chair and brace your left hand on your right thigh. While keeping your back straight, lean forward and to the right. Let your right arm dangle at your side while you gently swing it back and forth like a pendulum. Now, fully rotate the rotator cuff by performing a full circle with your right arm. Now repeat this exercise on your left side.

Exercise #1

Hold a towel in both hands with your palms facing upward. While keeping your elbows at your sides and bent at 90 degrees, slowly move your arms to the right and then to the left. Repeat this exercise two to three times, going a little farther each time while staying in your comfort zone.

Exercise #2

Wrap a towel behind your waist like a belt, holding its ends. While keeping your elbows at your sides, bend them at 90 degrees with your palms facing each other. Now slowly move your arms to the right and then to the left as you gently stretch the rotator cuff muscles.

Exercise #3

While holding a towel horizontally at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart, keep your palms down and turn the towel vertically. Do this first in one direction, then the other. Repeat this exercise two to three times.

Exercise #4

Holding a towel in both hands with your arms in resting position, slowly bring your arms upward to shoulder height. Do this exercise while still remaining comfortable and increase the height you raise the towel a bit higher each time. Lift the towel straight over your head as long there is no pain.

Exercise #5

With your arms a little further apart than shoulder width, raise your towel over your head. Now gently lower the towel down towards the top of your head then raise it back up again. Repeat this exercise two to three times.

Perhaps you are used to doing exercises at the gym, and you may felt some pain in your shoulder the next day. Maybe you think this is normal, but the pain in your shoulder does not go away for a long time until you find that. In this case, the pain may be caused by a pulled muscle in the shoulder or a tear in the ligaments.

In addition, shoulder pain can also be caused by damage to the muscles or the tendons. When the muscle is pulled, this may damage some of the small blood vessels located in the shoulder area. Sometimes bleeding and bruising occur around the injured shoulder.

Fortunately, some home remedies can effectively help you relieve your shoulder pain. This article will show you how to treat a pulled muscle in the shoulder at home.

How to crack your shoulder bladesHow To Treat A Pulled Muscle In Shoulder Fast

Possible Reasons for Shoulder Pain

Your shoulder is made out of many ligaments, tendons, and muscles, so different conditions can cause shoulder pain. Here are some of the possible conditions that you may have:

Labrum Tear

You would know if you have this problem if you would find yourself unable to rotate your arm properly. You may feel that your shoulders are a bit unstable and cannot do anything you usually do.

AC Joint Separation

This is the type of condition you would feel if your joints have some issues. If you feel pain when you are trying to raise your arms upwards or have trouble sleeping because of the pain, this may be the main culprit.

Frozen Shoulder

This is a condition also known as adhesive capsulitis. This condition usually gradually occurs when you do not realize it until such time when your shoulder is already frozen, and you cannot move it at all.

Symptoms of Having Pulled Shoulder Muscles

There are some common symptoms of pulled muscles in your shoulder.

  • Pain when you are resting. Even if you are not doing anything, your shoulder still hurts.
  • A weakness of the muscles. If you can’t easily lift something easy to lift before, it means that your shoulder muscles may be pulled.
  • Inability to use the muscle at all. If the pulled muscle is serious, you may be unable to do anything at all.
  • Some swelling appears near the area where the muscles hurt. You may also see some bruises and redness brought about by the injury.

If you experience some of the above symptoms, especially some serious symptoms, please seek medical help immediately. The doctor can conduct a comprehensive examination and give a suitable treatment plan. If the symptoms are relatively mild, you can try the following home remedies.

How to Get Rid of A Pulled Muscle In Shoulder at Home

1. Ice Pack For Pulled Muscle In Shoulder

How to crack your shoulder blades

To stop the bleeding or the swelling of the blood vessels and the pulled muscle, you can try to use ice pack treatment. Apply it on the shoulder area that hurts and wait for about 10 minutes. The cold of ice packs can help slow blood flow and relieve pain.

  • Wrap some ice with a clean cloth and apply it to the skin.
  • Remember never to place ice against your skin without using any form of protective covering unless you want your skin to become frostbitten.
  • Do this 2-3 times a day. Once again, never leave on the skin for more than 10 minutes.

2. Rest

Rest may be the best treatment for a pulled muscle in the shoulder. This allows damaged cells in your body to repair themselves.

Try to choose a suitable resting environment to relax the whole body. This can help you get rid of the pain. If the condition is serious, you can take some medicine to relieve the pain after obtaining the doctor’s consent.

3. Protect the Muscle From Further Injury

At this point, you already know what has caused your muscles to become pulled or injured. Knowing what has caused it will make you want to avoid that same activity.

If you don’t want to cause more damage to your shoulders, make sure you don’t do anything that will further pull your muscles.

4. Add Compression to Shoulder

How to crack your shoulder blades

You can apply compression on the affected part of your shoulder and let it heal on its own. It may be a bit painful initially, but it will start to feel better after some time.

  • Remove all constrictive clothing from the shoulder area.
  • Use an elastic bandage to wrap around the shoulder area.
  • Remember not to put the bandage too tightly because this may hurt you again.

5. Medications

In some cases, the pain may become unbearable. After consulting a doctor, you can take some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain in the pulled muscle.

  • If you suffer from kidney disease or other related diseases, it is not advisable to take anti-inflammatory drugs because it will increase the burden on your body.
  • Remember, you can also take some medicines, but these medicines only temporarily relieve the pain.
  • When taking medication, follow the recommended guidelines.

6. Take Vitamin C

How to crack your shoulder blades

Do you realize that taking in vitamin C can reduce the pain brought about by pulled muscles? You can take Vitamin C once every day. Not only will this help get rid of the pain, but this can also improve your skin and hair’s overall condition.

7. Physical Therapy

If you have completed the above operations but still cannot move your shoulders normally, or the pain worsens, you must seek a physical therapist.

The physical therapist will formulate some activities that can restore your shoulder strength. When looking for a suitable physical therapist, you must look for someone strongly recommended by your doctor. If you want to search by yourself, look up the online listing and read the reviews carefully.

If you want to take some medicine to relieve shoulder pain, please consult a doctor first. Remember that prevention is the best treatment. Before doing strenuous exercise, please warm up beforehand. If you feel uncomfortable in your shoulders, stop exercising immediately, and rest appropriately. If the shoulder muscles have been strained, don’t do more exercises to avoid more damage.

In this video, Dr. Rowe (St. Joseph, Michigan chiropractor) shows how to fix upper back popping, snapping, and clicking sounds FOR GOOD.

As a bonus, all of these exercises can be done AT HOME and may help get rid of an upper back click, pop, and crack sounds in as little as 30 SECONDS!

This video will be broken up into an EASY, effective step-by-step guide that’s going to target the main causes of pop and crack sounds in (and around) the upper back, middle back, and shoulder blades.

In the FIRST part, we’re going to tackle a huge culprit of a snapping upper back, that is muscle tightness and irritation to the muscle tendons. We’re going to go over a simple and effective self massage that will help loosen everything up and get the upper back and shoulder blades moving more smoothly.

The SECOND part is going to focus on a big instigator of upper and middle back popping and clicks: lack of joint mobility. Easy stretching exercises are shown that will help improve upper back movement, and help with issues such as osteoarthritis and crepitus.

THIRD, we’ll focus on fixing imbalances and weakness (which may lead to pops and cracks) in and around the upper back and shoulder blade muscles with strengthening exercises.

WATCH now and get rid of upper back popping and cracking sounds for good!

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The scapula, the largest bone of your shoulder girdle, connects the humerus to the clavicle. The serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles hold this bone flat against the rib cage. Damage to these muscles can lift your scapula, a condition referred to as ‘winging’. Winging can occur on one or both of your shoulders where the winged scapula protrudes outwards. Proper Scapular stabilization exercises can help strengthen your serratus anterior and rhomboid muscles, which in turn will protect your scapula from long term damage.

How to crack your shoulder blades

Scapular Stabilization Exercises

Swimmers are often susceptible to scapular injuries due to their requirement of performing powerful swimming strokes. Overhead arm movements during swimming results in scapular injuries, leading to a condition called swimmer’s shoulders. The common people too are very susceptible to this problem, so here is a list of exercises that can be performed to stabilize the scapula:

1. Lying Dumbbell Presses

  • Lie on your back on a bench or on the floor holding a light dumbbell in each hand. Extend your arms vertically with palms facing inwards.
  • Next, push your arms further upwards keeping them parallel to each other such that your shoulders blades separate.
  • Go back to the initial position and perform between 10 and 20 repetitions of the exercise. Increase the number of repetitions with practice.

2. Push-Up Plus

  • How to crack your shoulder bladesHold yourself in a push-up position: here, your body is horizontal, facing downwards, arms extended with your shoulders wide apart. Keep your head in a straight line with your spine.
  • Extend your shoulders to the front and squeeze your shoulder blades to bring yourself up. Keeping your arms extended, let gravity bring you back to the original position. Repeat the workout 10-20 times daily.

3. Rhomboids Stretch

How to crack your shoulder bladesRhomboideus major and minor are two important muscles that anchor the scapula in place. It is thus necessary to strengthen these muscles to keep the shoulder girdle in a functional state.

  • First place your right arm under your left shoulder and then place your left arm over your right shoulder and feel the stretch.
  • Hold this position in 10 seconds and then relax. Perform 10 repetitions for each arm twice each day.

4. Shoulder Circumference with a Ball

  • To perform scapular stabilization exercises like this one, you will need a ball resembling a tennis ball. The ball should be easy to grip, fit into your hands and easy to move.
  • With the ball in your affected arm, perform circular, pendular and up and down motions with the ball keeping your elbows straight.
  • Keep moving the ball continuously for a minute and then rest for the next minute. Repeat the exercise 10 times daily.

5. Band Pull-Aparts

  • Holding an exercise band in your hands, raise your arms to shoulder level.
  • Slightly bend your elbows and keep your shoulders relaxed during the entire exercise regime.
  • Stretch the band across your chest keeping your arms parallel to the chest.
  • Repeat this exercise several times. Gradually upgrade your exercise level by using stronger bands. This exercise is great for working the rhomboids, posterior deltoids and the middle trapezius.

6. Face Pulls

How to crack your shoulder bladesFace pulls also serve the same purpose as a band pull-apart.

  • Stand facing an adjustable pulley placed slightly above your head level. Grasp one end of a rope handle (attached to the pulley clip) in each arm and step back till your arms are completely outstretched.
  • Starting at your elbows, bend your arms towards either side of your head while keeping your torso straight and your abdomen braced during the entire exercise regimen.
  • Extend your arms again and repeat the above steps several times.

How to crack your shoulder blades7. Pendulum Swings

The pendulum swings scapular stabilization exerciseis great for working a large number of muscles like the deltoids, subscapularis, rotator cuffs and supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles.

  • Lean on a table placing one of your hands on the table for support.
  • Swing the other hand 10-12 times both in the backward-forwards direction and laterally. Also swing the arm clockwise and anti-clockwise.
  • Repeat the same steps with your other arm.

How to crack your shoulder blades8. Shoulder Blade Squeeze

This is also one of the effective scapular stabilization exercises that can really help. To perform the exercie:

  • Stand or sit down, but keep your back and neck straight.
  • Lower your chin a bit and slightly move back your shoulders. In this position, squeeze back your shoulder blades till the limit where you feel a moderate stretch.
  • Hold your shoulders in this position for 5 seconds and repeat the exercise 10 times. Remember, you should not feel any pain while performing the exercise.