Probably the single most common complaint we get as massage therapists is upper back pain. Neck and shoulders are tight and causing issues. We ask our clients to point to where it hurts and they make large sweeping gestures about the head and neck saying, “Allllllllllllll thiiiissssssss.” Oh yeah. We CAN help!
But how do we address the pain AND do our best to keep it from coming back? The answer is not what you might think. For people who constantly deal with neck, shoulder, and upper back tension the answer is often in the chest. Particularly in our little friend pectoralis minor. Pec minor attaches to the medial border of the scapula and its coracoid process and runs on down to ribs three through five. What happens when it gets tight (shortens, contracts, squirrels itself away)?
Well, its jobs are stabilizing the scapula, rotating it in, and pulling it down. It also helps in deep breathing. So, when it’s acting up, the muscles of the upper back and neck are strained. Think of when you pull a rubber band tight between your fingers. Pec minor is rolling that shoulder forward and down, stretching out all those muscles in the upper back. This leads to many of the 16 (!!!) muscles which attach to the shoulder blade start jumping in to help pull the whole shoulder back. When they do jobs they aren’t usually so involved in, they start to hurt.
So, here’s the BIG SECRET to relieving upper back pain: Stretch and open the chest muscles! Whether it’s addressed on your own or with a visit to Massage Alchemist it doesn’t matter. The key to long lasting relief is often there in the chest. Most massage therapists will simply flop you face down on the massage table and rub your shoulders and neck for an hour. While this does give temporary relief, the pain will return until you treat the upper back and neck pain at its SOURCE – and that’s the name of the game.
Would you like to see for yourself? Call us or book online today!