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Rhomboid Muscle Pain | How To Fix Pain In Shoulder Blade

Rhomboid muscle pain can be a real nagging sensation in the upper back. If not treated, Rhomboid pain can last for years without any relief. This post will show you exactly how to find Rhomboid pain relief and the exact exercises you can follow for the quickest route out of pain.


What Is Rhomboid Muscle Pain?

Rhomboid Muscle Pain Pattern

Rhomboid Muscle & Pain Pattern [1]

Rhomboid pain refers to pain caused by the Rhomboid muscle in the upper back (image above from source [1]). The underlying cause of the pain is constant tension in the Rhomboid muscle. Constant tension means the Rhomboid pulls on the shoulder blade 24/7, which can be incredibly uncomfortable.

What Is The Rhomboid Muscle?

The Rhomboid muscle lies in the upper back beneath the lower trapezius and on top of the serratus posterior muscle. The Rhomboid connects from the spinal vertebrae directly to the shoulder blade in the back of the body.

Rhomboid Pain Pattern 2

Rhomboid Muscle & Pain Pattern Via Source [2]

What Causes Rhomboid Pain?

Cause 1: Poor Posture Rhomboid pain can be triggered in a few ways, but since 2023 is the most sedentary time in human history it is most likely triggered by poor posture. Slumped, rounded-shoulder posture stresses the Rhomboids by pulling the shoulder blade forward and shortening the pectoral muscles. When the pectoral muscles shorten, the entire shoulder (including the shoulder blade where the Rhomboid is attached) is pulled forward and the poor Rhomboid is put in a strained position.

Cause 2: High-Impact Strain Rhomboid muscle pain can also come from the overuse of the Rhomboid muscle. This can occur from doing a back workout that you are not quite conditioned for, or from doing manual labor like shoveling or lifting off the ground repeatedly where the back muscles are required to work. This Rhomboid pain cause generally presents within a day of Rhomboid effort, while poor posture pain can take years to develop.

*See the Rhomboid tear test for more


Rhomboid Pain Relief Steps

Rhomboid muscle pain relief can be completely accomplished in one day with 3 steps - all without leaving your house. All you need is a ball, a fascia massage gun (optional), and a little bit of floor space. 

Rhomboid Pain Relief Step 1: Open The Pectorals

Yes, you read this right. The pectoral muscles are a sneaky contributor to Rhomboid pain and unlocking them is the first step to relief. When the pectoral muscles get tight, they pull the shoulder blade forward - the same shoulder blade that the Rhomboid muscle attaches to on the backside of the body. Releasing tension in the pecs can relieve tension in the Rhomboids by letting the shoulder blade retract into its natural position.

Pec Muscle Massage For Rhomboid Pain

How To: 1. Massage the pectoral muscles with your tool of choice. This can be done with a massage ball, the Claw, a massage gun, or by the hands of a trained professional. Work through any tender spots to break up rigid muscle tissue. 2. Stretch the pectorals for 2 minutes on each side at different angles. Focus on lengthening the pec muscles to provide the most relief to the Rhomboid muscle.

Rhomboid Pain Relief Step 2: Massage The Rhomboid

Soft tissue massage work on the Rhomboid will help release trigger points, knots, and constant tension contributing to pain. This is much easier after the pectorals are released from step 1 because the pecs are no longer fighting the Rhomboid for the shoulder blade at this point.

Rhomboid Muscle Massage With Ball

Self Rhomboid Massage

Rhomboid Pain Relief - Massage

Professional Rhomboid Massage

How To: My favorite way to massage out Rhomboid muscle pain is with a ball on a wall. A Back Buddy or lacrosse ball massage can provide a great amount of pressure to physically work out kinks and knots in the poor Rhomboid muscle. Perform this for 2-4 minutes on the affected side, or until you feel the Rhomboid loosen its grip on the shoulder blade.

Rhomboid Pain Relief Step 3: Back Mobility Exercises

Now that the groundwork is laid with steps 1 and 2, you are ready to explore your new back mobility range with active Rhomboid pain relief exercises. The next section explains a few of the best Rhomboid exercises I have found to open up the upper back and complete the Rhomboid pain relief process.


Rhomboid Muscle Pain Relief Exercises

*All three exercises are shown in the video at the top of the page*

Rhomboid Exercise 1: Mid Back Twist On All Fours

Rhomboid Muscle Pain Mid Back Twist

The mid-back twist, also known as "thread the needle", is an awesome way to mobilize the Rhomboid and surrounding muscles right at home. To do this exercise, reach as high as you can with the elbow as shown in the picture, then reach down and under your tripod arm to complete the rep.

Rhomboid Exercise 2: Cat Camel

Rhomboid Pain Cat Camel Rhomboid Pain Cat Camel 2

The cat camel works out Rhomboid muscle pain by mobilizing the spine in a different plane. Make sure to utilize the full range of motion slowly and to stop if pain presents. If the arched back position is stiff, you may want to try Rhomboid exercise 3 to open up the upper back and posture even more.

Rhomboid Exercise 3: Buddy Back Opener

Rhomboid Muscle Pain Buddy Back Opener

This looks a lot worse than it is. Have a friend push slowly on your mid-upper back to push your back into posture correction. I am a big fan of this because it helps me get further into posture correction than I can under my own strength. Proceed with caution - do not jerk and remember to breathe slowly. This last Rhomboid muscle pain exercise may elicit some soothing back cracks as well.


After Rhomboid Pain Relief: Injury Prevention

I highly recommend including upper back strengthening exercises in your routine. There are a hundred reasons to train the upper back and Rhomboid muscle pain is just one:

  • Improved posture
  • Shoulder health
  • Higher overall strength
  • An aesthetic muscular back
  • Rhomboid muscle pain relief

Here are a few strength training exercises you can implement to work the muscles in and around the Rhomboid muscle:

  • Face pulls
  • Rear delt raises
  • Row machine rows
  • Barbell rows
  • Pull-ups
  • Incline rows
  • Pike push-ups (Read more on pike push-up muscles worked)

Leave a comment or email me at if you have any questions! Back Muscle Solutions exists to make back pain relief information and resources accessible to everyone. Subscribe to us on YouTube or check out our shop for more on back pain relief and burying Rhomboid pain!

Read about Mid Back Pain and Shoulder Impingement Exercises next for more tips on finding pain relief.



[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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