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Athletic Training

Shoulder Blade Pain



I have rheumatiod arthritis and I walk every day. I started adding another walk a day. I start getting pain and swelling inn my back by my shoulder blades on both sides. My doctor told me that it was from my RA and swinging my arms when I walk. Is there any thing that I can do to try and prevent this from happening again? I can`t do much in the way of exercise but I do love my walks.


It is hard to answer this question thoroughly without a physical examination and viewing the way your arms move when you walk, but it sounds as if you could benefit from some light scapular stabilization exercises.  If your scapulas, or shoulder blades, are not properly stabilized when you exercise, it could be causing some swelling due to excess motion throughout the shoulder and scapula complex. 

A few exercises that might benefit you include the following:

1) Scapular squeezes:  squeeze together your shoulder blades and hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times.   3x/week

2) Shoulder shrugs: shrug shoulders, hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times.  3x/week

3) Scapular punches:  Lie on your back, with both arms pointing towards the ceiling, "punch" arms forward towards the ceiling - hold for 5 seconds, repeat 20 times.  You can add a light weight in your hands if tolerable.  3x/week

It is very important to remember that if you have any pain or adverse reaction to these exercises, you should stop them and consult with your physician. 

Best of luck!

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Response by:

Katrina B Stibel, MA, ATC Katrina B Stibel, MA, ATC
Assistant Athletic Trainer, Instructor
Department of Athletics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University