Rhomboid muscle pain can be a short-term nuisance, or a long-term chronic condition. It can be a painful thing to live with, as well as it can limit one’s overall mobility.
The Rhomboid major is a muscle that runs along both shoulder blades. It attaches to the spinous processes of the thoracic vertebrae on one end, and to the medial scapulae on the other end.
This muscle can become tight and painful for many reasons and that is why it can be complicated to treat properly. One reason is something we often talk about here and that is the prevalence of poor posture.
Please note that if releasing tension directly in this muscle doesn’t work, you may be getting pain from a different muscle or from your neck.
Symptoms of Rhomboids Pain
- Pain inside the shoulder blade (Along rhomboid muscle)
- Muscle spasm in the rhomboid muscle
- Limited shoulder range of motion
- Tightness in upper back
- Tightness and pain in neck
- Difficulty lifting arm overhead
Causes of Rhomboids Muscle Pain
- Long periods of Computer work
- Poor posture: Forward head & Kyphosis
- Poor Thoracic mobility
- Excessive device usage (Looking down at phone)
- Cervical Radiculopathy (Pain referred from neck)
- Pain referred from another muscle (Like Lats or Levator Scapulae)
Out treatment methodology involves relieving the muscle tension directly at first with self massage and stretching. Then opening up the Thoracic spine, and lastly doing a neck exercise. This is meant to treat Rhomboid pain holistically.
7 Exercises for Rhomboid Pain Relief
Exercise 1: Self massage with ball
- Apply a gentle massage using a massage ball on a tight spot around the shoulder blade area.
- Hold on the area for at least 60 sec, then find another tight knot to work on.
Exercise 2: Levator Scap stretch
- Begin in a seated position and grasp the bottom of your chair with your right hand and bring your left hand on your back of the head.
- Turn your head towards your left armpit
- Then using your left arm, gently push your head down looking towards your left armpit until you feel a slight stretch along with right side of your neck.
- Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Repeat on the opposite side
- Aim for 3 repetitions of this stretch on each side.
Exercise 3: Thoracic Foam Rolling
- Use a foam roll or a rolled up towel
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and have the foam roll just underneath your shoulder blades.
- Bring your hands behind your head and extend your upper back over the foam roller.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Exercise 4: Neck Extensions with Towel
- Sit at the back of a chair with an upright posture while holding a towel wrapped around your neck
- Now stretch your spine up and over the back of your chair.
- Keep tension in the towel, to support your neck.
- Do 5-10 Extensions
Exercise 5: Thoracic Twists
- Kneel down on both knees with your butt touching the heels of your feet.
- Extend one hand on the floor for support and place the other hand on the back of your head.
- Twist your body toward the extended arm, and try to touch the elbow of the arm that is on your head, to the extended arm.
- Now twist your body to opposite direction and look up as your elbow goes up (Opening up your upper back)
- Aim for 10 repetitions on each side.
** Have the movement be predominantly in your upper back and not in your hips.
Exercise 6: Open Books
- Lie down on your side with your knees stacked at a 90 degree angle and your arms extended in front of you, palm to palm.
- Now extend the free hand up and open up your upper back. Keep twisting, until the back of your palm reaches the floor on the other side.
- Make sure to keep your knees from twisting, they should not move at all.
- Now bring the hand back to original position.
- Aim for 10 repetitions on each side.
Exercise 7: Chin Tucks
This exercise will activate and strengthen your deep cervical muscles (front of the neck muscles).
- Place 2 fingers at the bottom of your chin.
- Gently tuck your chin in and retract your head backwards. At the same time, use your fingers to keep the chin tucked in the entire time.
- Hold the end position for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Relax your neck for a moment (Let the neck come fwd).
- Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
** You should feel like the back of your neck is lengthening or “pulling up”, and there will be packing in front of your neck.
Winged Scapula Exercises
7 Specific Upper Back Stretches For Back Pain Relief
What Are Myofascial Trigger Points? (And 5 Ways To Release Them)
Fix Pain Between Shoulder Blades In Upper Back – With Exercises & Self Massage
How To Fix Rounded Shoulders Posture – 5 Effective Exercises
 Yoo W. Changes in Pressure Pain Threshold of the Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapular and Rhomboid Muscles during Continuous Computer Work. J Phys Ther Sci. 2013;25(8):1021-1022. doi:10.1589/jpts.25.1021
 Griegel-Morris P, Larson K, Mueller-Klaus K, Oatis C. Incidence of Common Postural Abnormalities in the Cervical, Shoulder, and Thoracic Regions and Their Association with Pain in Two Age Groups of Healthy Subjects. Phys Ther. 1992;72(6):425-431. doi:10.1093/ptj/72.6.425
 Singla D, Veqar Z. Association Between Forward Head, Rounded Shoulders, and Increased Thoracic Kyphosis: A Review of the Literature. J Chiropr Med. 2017;16(3):220-229. doi:10.1016/j.jcm.2017.03.004
Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM-CES), Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), Professional Dancer
As a long time back sufferer Leon found unique methods to alleviate his pain using natural methods including self massage, exercise/stretching and postural habits. He founded Backintelligence.com to empower others to fix their postures and ease their back pain from home.