Rhomboid (Upper Back) Strain- Trouble Hiking or Typing
The Pain- Burning, cramping or aching pain between the shoulder blades. The pain is usually worse reaching out or up.
The Cause- Poor posture sitting at a computer is a frequent culprit in conjunction with prolonged reaching activities such as typing on a keyboard without arm or wrist supports. Backpacking, especially carrying a pack on one shoulder can cause problems in the great outdoors.
The Basic Stretch- Door hangs. Reach out at shoulder level. Grasp a door frame with your thumb closest to the floor. Lean back relaxing your shoulder muscles and let your shoulder blade slide forward. Hold 60 seconds, repeat with the other arm.
The Basic Strength Exercise- Rows. Take dumbbell or weight and bend ninety degrees at the waist with your arm hanging toward the floor. Lift the weight toward your shoulder in a rowing motion. The weight should be heavy enough that you can only do this about ten repetitions. Repeat with opposite arm. Do twice with each arm.
Feel Good Move- Ice is always good for muscle pain and spasm. Wrap in protective cloth to prevent frostbite. Leave on for twenty minutes and repeat up to three times a day. Rolling on a tennis ball across the painful spasms can also help work the pain out.
When To Worry- There are a number of medical conditions that can cause pain in the middle upper back such as esophageal spasm, pancreatitis and compression fractures in the spine. If you do not see any improvement with the above measures with 2-3 weeks seek out a physician to rule out a more serious medical condition.
Other Things- Good posture goes a long way in preventing upper back strain. When sitting or standing your ear should line up with your shoulder and your shoulder should line up with that pointy bone on the side of your hip. Using wrist and arm supports when typing can also be helpful. Use both straps of your back pack and make sure the load is distributed appropriately.