Shoulder blade pain

Not an injury as such, but on 3 of my recent solo runs I've had a really sore pain sort of underneath my left shoulder blade, and it feels muscular. A bit like my muscle is cramping or spasming. It's so sore it makes me stop running and I have to walk and stretch out my arm. Bringing my arm across the front of my body and holding it seems to help. The pain then goes away, but tends to happen once or twice again over the course of the run.

It's happened near the end of a 12 mile run, and twice at halfway through 6 mile runs, so it's happened in long slow runs and short fast runs.

Any ideas?


  • It sounds like something I've had, on and off, for years. I find it mainly occurs when I'm going downhill. Like you I find that bringing the arm in front of the body helps - sometimes I rest it on the waist-bag I carry, or just dangle it like a weight, for a bit.

    I consulted a physio, who diagnosed weakness in the muscles under the shoulder blades, and a series of stretches and exercises. They seem to have helped a bit. But if you find out anything more definite, I'd be interested to know! The physio seemed to think it was connected to my tendency to hunch my shoulders when concentrating, leading to face ache, tension headaches and migraines. Can't say these have improved much.
  • I did wonder about hunching shoulders because I am aware of doing that, especially when I'm trying to run fast. I try to do a "body check" every 10 mins or so to check if I have any tensed muscles etc and make suer that I relax them. I used to get quite bad migraines after runs, but thankfully they have stopped.
  • Twinklemel,

    The shoulder blade will move across the back of the ribs when you move your arms whilst running.

    So some form of body awareness may be required

    you could look at the book: "the art of running" or at the posetech training. Or a non running focussed form i.e. alexander technique, feldenkrais or Somatic education


  • The physio's idea was that both the shoulder pain when running and the hunching (which affects me more when I'm on a computer - like now!) were due to a weakness in the muscles under the shoulder blade, most likely in the trapezius muscle. Some of the exercises I was given are on <>. There were also a number of stretches. The idea was that this weakness led to poor posture, which really told in situations of strain.

    I do seem to have had these pains less frequently since doing these exercises. Though to be honest, I haven't run myself to the point of tiredness much recently!

    Having said all that, the physio didn't seem to have encountered the condition before. And I've never met anyone else who suffers from it. So if you do find anything helpful out, I'd be interested to know!
  • I have a similar problem, which I'm currently trying to sort out, caused by archery. Although, my problem appears to be with the rhombiod muscles (sit under the traps) rather than with the trapezius.

    A rehab exercise I've been using is seeted shrugs - done with scapula (shoulder blades) pinched together.

    Another good type of exercise are rowing type exercises. Again pinch the scapula (shoulder blades) together and keep elbows close in.

  • have a look at the articles on the following website. They are about developing awareness of what your muscle groups are doing. Alot of pain is caused by tight muscles (which are being kept tight by innervation ultimately from the brain) so by developing awareness you can reduce the tightness.

    There are some articl;es regarding stretching which may be of interste to the runners (second link)

  • Pirahna - I did find that the muscle is a bit tender the day after, so if I sort of "lift" my shoulder blade, I feel the muscle. It has that feeling that it has been in spasm or cramp, and is a bit tender. Maybe it's the same thing?

    I asked some people at running club last night and they all said it was a stitch, but I'm not believing that!
  • I searched to find if anyone else suffered from the same tension in the left shoulder blade - hits me about 6km when I do a 10km and I too have to pull my arm either behind, in front or let hang - and am relieved to find that it is quite common (not for other sufferers I assume!). I spoke to one of the instructors in the gym this evening and he basically said the same as the physio quoted above - need to strengthen the shoulder blades with exercises similar to rowing (he will show me more when I go next to gym and I will try to explain them on this thread). It is to do with posture and usually affects the shoulder blade that is not regularly used i.e. it is my left that hurts as my right hand is used to write with and use the mouse, etc..... Hope this helps. i am going to check out the links given above too. Thanks for advice

  • Have any of you considered you may be dehydrated when the pain occurs?  I have found in the past year and a half that I no longer feel thirsty before I become dehydrated. My first result was kidney stones. Got rid of them with the hot water and lemon juice remedy and the blssings of GOD!   But lately I have noticed this  cramp like aching happening under my left shoulder blade, used to only happend when driving but now is happening more, and I am realizing it happens mostly when the weather is hot. I Just read on another website this was a common dehydration symptom. So I grabbed my gallon of distilled water and I literally drank 2/3 the bottle down comfortably! (I didnt feel thirsty but obviously I needed water) Its been leass than 10 minutes and the shoulder pain is gone now! Thank you GOD again. If your running I would think dehydration could develop very rapidly, maybe like me your not feeling as thirsty as you should be.  Best hopes.

  • Twinklemel wrote (see)

    I asked some people at running club last night and they all said it was a stitch, but I'm not believing that!

    Stitches can occur in the shoulder, though most runners experience them in the abdominal area. The general consensus for stitch is internal organ movement caused by the impact on these organs while running.. some of these attach to the diaphragm. The diaphragm is innovated by the phrenic nerve which comes from the neck, which is why sometimes a pain is felt in the shoulder area.

  • SOME QUICK EXERCISES - Good for everybody
    Exercises given by Physical Therapy didn't help me;

    Keep your feet under your thighs when sitting in a computer chair.
    When walking and running mentally keep your weight above your feet. Move different heights of your body (knees, hip, chest) back and forth to find equillibrium and power in your stances and movements.

    Simply pull with the back of your neck up and a little back.

    Protrude your stomach by pushing from the back of the bottom of the ribcage.

    Sit at end of a chair, put armpits covering over kneecaps and fingers under your arches of your footz. Move all around your back and shoulders.

  • Sounds like a combination of poor posture (hunching as mentioned) and weakness of muscles (also mentioned). Too many runners forget that outside of legs, core and the cardiovascular system there are a whole bunch of other parts that play a role (if relativley small) in your running motion: chest, back, arms, shoulders and even neck. If these are neglected then you will never be able to perform to your best.

    Sounds like you need some time on a rowing machine, or some low weight high repetition weights. Good ones for upper back include: seated row, bent over row, reverse flys and lat pull downs.


  • Oops, jus noticed this is an 8yr old thread. Taxi for one....


  • Perfect recommendation for rowing machine! Totally forgot about that one

    For those with pain:
    -Lay on your belly or stand. Slowly stretch both your thighs by pulling both your feet with your hands (one at a time if standing). Move/flex your shoulders around. Adjust for Maxiumum Effectivenss. Alternatively;

    -Flex all the muscles, arching near the shoulder blades. Stretch out the muscles from your head pulling up. To a degree this is the desired posture 24/7. Keep your chin down. Try tightening your stomach and chest.

    -Keeping your head pulled up by an invisible force, stand at arm's length from a doorway. Put your hands on either side of doorway and lean forward, adjusting your legs, body and shoulders as you go up/down for Maxiumum Effectiveness.

    I personally need to use cyclobenzaprine oral or skin cream as I waited long to address it

    Haha what does 'taxi for one' mean?

  • Pain between the shoulder blades can take a long time to develop, so it takes some time and effort to get rid of it. How to control it is the problem.
    1. Stretch the shoulder muscles
    2. Take a hot bath or use a hot pack for at least 10 minutes.
    3. A neck massager is recommended to relieve pain. You can get better results if you use it before going to bed. :) here you can find some tursted brand.
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