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Back Pain that No One can Solve


Hey guys,

Im an 18 year old kid. I've had several hip pains, foot pains and some other annoying pains from hip imbalances, tight muscles and such.
Those are solved. I went to rolfing. Amazing, he alligned my hips and legs, i feel more stable. got rid of all my pains EXCEPT THIS ONE.

I am having this tightnesses on my middle/upperback between my shoulderblades for almost a YEAR now. The whole time stuck with it. Let me try to describe it to you. It's like a tight pulling feeling between my shoulderblades, especially when i hunch over or twist to the sides. My back is all cracking. When i use a foam roller i hear my back crack at about 10 times not exagerating.
The pain kind of radiates to my chest sometimes, in front, when i hunch over. Somtimes my chest pops when stretching my back.
Also my ribs hurt / feel tight when i move my spine around a bit.

I think (but not sure) this started a year ago from squatting. Like the bars weight pressing on my upper back causing this pressure. Then it started very light, my back was slightly tight, and it could crack 2-3times softly. Over the weeks and months (after stopping weightlifting completely!) the pain got worse and worse, and my back started to crack on more places and way louder.

I went to a 'manual therapist' (chiropractor/ osteopath) guy several times. He told me i had some stuck vertebrae, so he 'cracked' my back and did some fascial release, also did some stretching on my back.

Now ok it gave some instant relief, but really temporaly, as i was home 3 hours later the tightness and cracking/popping was there again.
After visiting him a bunch of times and spending a lot of money, he said its OK now, you're vertebrae aren't stuck anymore, they are mobile again.

But i was like what the heck, the pain is still there.

He replied, yes, this is all i can do. I resolved the skeletal thing, the pain is something muscular.

I was like eehmmm ok, but i've been stuck with this for a year, and i would love to start lifting weights again, and i'm only 18 years old. Are you serious that i will be stuck with this annoying tightness around my spine for the rest of my life?

He said, i cannot help you further. It's probably some loading from your neck that puts stress on that spot, your ribs, chest, and uppberback are interconnected, that's why it radiates.

I asked him if i should take a scan or something, because i am really beyond frustration, really no one can solve this issue?

He said thats a waste of money and unhealthy because i wont see anything on a scan. He might be right.

My rolfer is actually the only guy that kind of gave me some real form of relief and insight in the problem, now somtimes i feel a tingly feeling like it is somewhat 'curing' in my back from his fascial release technique. The chiropractor dude was a ripoff.

But then, the rolfer also wasn't able to solve this. He also explains me that the ribs, upper back and chestbone are interconnected. He finds my pain very strange. He thinks it might be pressure from 'deeper into my core' (under the painful spot) and pressure from the neck ( above the spot) that causes it. I've done the 6 sessions already, don't know if the next session are going to solve my problem.

Now the question, please, can anyone solve me out, point me out into a direction how to solve this? Anyone experienced something similar? I have the feeling my back is getting this painful tightness worse and getting worse with every day.

It's not really that painful actually, its more intense tightness. Like i can do martial arts no problem. But having this tight feeling 24/7 and feeling slightly immobile makes me almost cry out of frustration after 1 year of it.

God bless you if anyone can help me out!


Out of my full ignorance on this kind of subjects, wouldnt an MRI be a good idea?


The chiropractor guy says a scan would be a waste of money, since i won't see anything on it because the problem is muscular, like there is no accute injury.

But i will go to the hospital anyways to try the scan if there's a chance of hope. Probably won't see anything though..

Still open for suggestions from people?
In the evening the tightness is LESS, especially after i did some stretching on my upper back.
But every morning i seem to wake up with this very tight feeling on my upper back, my ribs and even around my neck. As the day goes by (after morning for example) the tightness is better but still noticeble.

I'm wondering if anyone has had similiar experience?

I'm still pissed off that the doctors here tell me 'there's nothing to do about it' like i have cancer or aids.


The chiropractor guy says a scan would be a waste of money, since i won't see anything on it because the problem is muscular, like there is no accute injury.

But i will go to the hospital anyways to try the scan if there's a chance of hope. Probably won't see anything though..

Still open for suggestions from people?
In the evening the tightness is LESS, especially after i did some stretching on my upper back.
But every morning i seem to wake up with this very tight feeling on my upper back, my ribs and even around my neck. As the day goes by (after morning for example) the tightness is better but still noticeble.

I'm wondering if anyone has had similiar experience?

I'm still pissed off that the doctors here tell me 'there's nothing to do about it' like i have cancer or aids.


The Chiro said that it was a waste of money. Boy, do you really believe that lots and lots of problems are due to subluxations in vertebrae? Ask them to define what is a subluxation and look for it on their clients. Read a little bit about the origins of chiro. Have you ever thought why if they are so good at fixing all by adjusting vertebrae they are turning to soft tissue treatment and hooking with physios?

The most ironic thing is that you took his advice about the MRI even after you realize he was a rip off!!!!???

My advice: Go to an orthopaedist that it is used to see athletes and also do exercise. Before thinking on MRI plain Rx would be needed. But that will be decided after a careful interrogation and a good exploration (maneuvers). Go get with an orthopaedist or a sports MD at a Sports college department. And no, you are not lost or have something terrible, you just seem desperate for not having results........but with the bad choices that is impossible boy. Do not worry, act!


I have a few suggestions, and a couple of questions...
What's your posture like- are you slightly kyphotic? Do your scapula wing? How's your thoracic motility?
The reasons I ask is because I wonder if it's anything to do with your serratus muscles? Bear in mind that your serratus isn't just located in the one place, it actually extends round deep into your back, beneath your shoulder blade.

You say that the tightness extends round to your chest and arm, which is the referred pain pattern from an active trigger point in the serratus posterior (see http://www.pressurepointer.com/Serratus_trigger_points.htm). I'm asking about scapular winging because the serratus anterior muscle itself (which is the serratus muscle you see) actually has a relationship to the muscles in your neck (see http://markyoungtrainingsystems.com/tag/middle-scalene/ ).

If you have an active trigger point in the scalene muscle, and it is tight, it may cause your scapula to consequently wing. In this instance, I wonder if that consequently activates the trigger point in your serratus posterior (or perhaps this is working in a vice-versa way, or maybe even independently of one another.) I don't know if it may be worthwhile recieving some ART on these particular areas (or at least treating the one in your back with a tennis ball yourself, to see if it makes a difference.)

However, I'm also asking about your posture, because this may be the root of the problem. If you're lacking thoracic motility and you're slightly kyphotic, it stands to reason that trigger points in your back (such as in the serratus posterior) are going to activate. Likewise, poor posture may also be causing the muscles in the front of your neck (i.e. the scalenes) to be overactive, activating trigger points (and thus referring issues down into your serratus, as suggesting in the second article I posted.)

The rolfing you're receiving (and even the ART, if you go on to receive it) will releive your issues temporarily, but unless you deal with what is causing the issue (i.e. poor posture) things will go right back to square one- you would want to work on improving thoracic motility and reversing kyphosis. Now, all this is speculation but it seems feasible, though I'm far from an expert; if you have perfect posture, then all of what I've mentioned may be irrelevant, but I thought I'd put forward a suggestion.



First of all really thanks for your concern and reply.
I'll do my best to accurately answer your questions.
I want to say that it doens't radiate to my arm at all.
And the radiation to my chest is no big deal, just wanted to mention it to be complete in my description. I only feel a slight pain on my sternum when i consciously bend over in a forced way, apparently the sternum is split in two pieces on the upper side, its a slight friction of this two pieces that sometimes stings me.

About my posture, i have far from perfect posture.
Before rolfing, i had a really awful posture. I had extreme case of hyper-lordosis, knock knees,imbalanced feet, 'one leg shorther than other' and thus unleveled hips. Luckly my rolfer solved all my leg and hip related problems. I don't have knock knees anymore, my feet are balanced, my hips and legs are as good as equal height, only i still have hyperlordosis but way less than before.

So when you see me from the side my posture is still far from perfect, especially the upper side.

When you see me from the back or front, my posture looks pretty OK, except for my rolled forward shoulders.

This said, when i look to myself from the side in the mirror completely relaxed, i don't think i have scapular winging. My 'wings' look pretty flat on my back for me. Ofcourse they are visible, but to a normal degree, not 'winging' out like the pictures i found about scapular winging.

Do i have kyphosis? Not really, maybe really slight, although not. I think my grade of kyphosis falls under 'normal'.

Although what do i surely have, ROLLED forward shoulders! Yes thats very obvious for me. My shoulders are in front my my chest, and when you see me from the front. my arms literally hang on the front of my body, my triceps then point to my sides, and my hand are actually in front on my quadriceps. When i walk i have this "meathead swag" because my elbows stick out to the sides because of my rolled shoulders

So i have a pretty bad case of rolled forward shoulders. Maybe this has to do something with it?

Thanks for the tennis ball advice. I do this ART on myself with a foam roller sometimes but it doens't work too well on that spot, the tennis ball might do the trick.

Note that in my country there are no helpful chiropractors, or guys who can make me fix my posture and such, i don't trust anymore here. They allready ripped me off for hundreds of euros for NO help. Only the rolfer (which i have to visit my neighbour country for) has helped me somewhat.

I just bought Eric Cressy's Assess and Correct, but i seem to lazy to go through the whole program, seems pretty boring.

I guess i should just finally start watching the program and fixing my posture. I'm wondering howlong it will take until i'm going to start to see results. Fixing posture seems such a slooowww progress.

But after all even with a great posture i wonder if this problem will still persist.

When i bend my waist in to the sides i feel this pain between my spine and ribs also.

It's more pain on, in and around the spine, slightly involving the ribs. When i say 'ribs' i mean 'deep back ribs' , so just want to make clear the main issue is all around the spine.


The rolled shoulders are most likely a key piece of the puzzle. It's most likely not the only piece, but I recommend you proactively work on resolving it.

Also, go through Cressey's Assess and Correct completely. I know it's boring but rehab/prehab is rarely exciting and sexy for anyone. That doesn't mean it's not important because it's very important.


Sounds like your latissimus dorsi are tight.
Give them a good stretch and you will have instant relief.
Massage will help your back feel good for a while but correcting their length will solve your problem.


I will very soon, although it will be an impractical job doing all the assesments on my own.


Thanks for your advice.
I did this test and i passed it easly:

Although when i did this stretch i felt some instant relief:

And with that i actually felt my ribs stretch out. Maybe it was the stretching of the ribs that gave me instant relief?

I don't know but it helped some.

Anyways the pain gets more annoying with each day that passes.

Today again my back cracken a million times, and my upper back (between shoulderblades along my erector spinae) is so tight again.

I have limited range of motion when i do side rotations. I kind of 'force' through the tightness by bouncing forcefully which gives me some kind of painful stretch and also gives me some relief.

What also helps me to give some relief is using a tennis ball on the sweet spot next to my vertebrae on both sides.

I am SO annoyed by this.

I WILL do the Assess& Correct program but honestly i have this feeling i will still be stuck with the same miserable problem. Grrrrrrr


This may come across as granola-new age silliness. However, a positive mindset (which I know is difficult to maintain at this point) can be the difference. I'm convinced that this mindset will put you in a more receptive state for any possible solutions. Take two lifters and, all else being equal, the one who enters the gym with a positive mindset will get a better workout.

Keep us posted with updates so we can give you our thoughts on your case.


Thanks for the support, yes this whole positive thinking sounds so new age lol but it is a fact that it matters a lot. Actually it makes the whole difference between failure or not failure.

My gym Sucks anyway so i think i'm better off doing the program at home. I'm just gonna need to buy the basic stuff so i can do A&C in my room. Which is a floor mat, some wooden blocks and mini bands i think.

In fact, i'm starting the the program seriously today.

Gonna keep posting every few days, at least once per week.

If you guys don't see me posting, please give me a kick in the butt for being a lazy ass.

I am gonna ignore the ' frontal' assesment part (e.g. left hip higher than right side) though, since i feel i either don't have any issues on this part, or either they are almost completely solved by my ROLFER, and are solving themselves with each day that passes since my body is still changing every day (i notice because every day i step different, my hip/leg/knee aches at different point in different ways)... So i'm just gonna wait until the rolfing changing effects are completely over before checking this part.

I will focus on my 'lateral' assesment part, thus my pelvic tilt and shoulder stance. In some way rolfing made some good improvement in my anterior pelic tilt (lordosis) and kind of 'loosened things up' including making my legs feel more stable, loose and balanced under my hips, the rolfing didn't do that much to my shoulder stance and spine form.

So i'm gonna get my ass started with fixing Hyperlordosis, forward/rolled shoulders and forward neck / kyphosis issues.


I think ignoring the 'frontal' assessment would be a poor decision. The body works as a unit and not fixing a glaring issue would likely just cause problems down the road. Also, ROLFing may help with the soft tissue aspect of the issue, but that is only part of the solution. Soft tissue work can only be as effective as the corrective exercise that is combined with it. I don't think it will be that much more work for you to perform some of the exercises to address any 'front assessment' abnormalities you may find. There will likely be a crossover of exercises for all of the pathologies/imbalances you find in any plane during your assessments. Regardless of if you feel the issue has been "solved" by the ROLFing, if you do not strengthen/activate the needed musculature and correct the muscular imbalance, you are likely going to return to whatever improper biomechanical movement patterns and improper postural position you had before.


Hmm well that is what i am a little confused about.
The Rolfer told me his practice moves the soft tissue in to place which in turn gives space for the body to adapt, according to him in the following weeks after the rolfing sessions my muscles change (e.g. strenghten or lengthen) according to the changes he made on the fascia around. In other words, the improber biomechanical movement changes into a good once, since by manipulating my fascia my muscles and tendons also modify to these changes.
My Rolfer says me that the only way to return to improper biomechanical movement is if i fall into 'bad habits' again (e.g. work-specific posture, hunching over while sitting) or actually injury myself again, and that if i dont do 'anything wrong' i will keep my new posture.

Note that before i went to rolfing my right leg was 'a bit away from under my body' and was shorter also.
Now my right leg is 'back under my body' again, and is almost as long as the left leg again.

I'm actually afraid that if i do these 'frontal assesments' before my rolfing sessions and effects have completely taken place (with this i mean before my deep joint/muscle pains due to change dissapear in few weeks/months) i will work against rolfing's effects. Or maybe i am wrong because these assessments won't change anything to the fascia and vice versa?

Note that i am a little confused. I don't know what to believe from my rolfer, or maybe i don't interpret him right.

He also tells me that putting 'tension' while stretching on the muscle actually makes it even tighter, and that you should stretch in a passive fashion (e.g. 'hang' on the muscle instead of applying force) and that breatching is essential or you will tighten your muscles even more.
I am pretty skeptical about this, i mean he basicly says 99% on the stretching techniques on the internet are useless and actually tightening the muscles more.

I'm sure he doesn't have bad intentions though, he's a really good guy, he just doesn't like the use of the body in 'power' and 'contact' ways. He's a really smart guy that knows a lot about the body but more in a calm, kung fu and ballet-ish way, instead of 'power' weightlifting-ish way.

I am confused what to believe sometimes, what he says, or what some guy on the internet say :stuck_out_tongue:


I'm going to break up your last post into sections and respond to each separately to make it easier for myself and hopefully easier to follow.

IMO, your practitioner is correct in that during his techniques he is helping reallign the fascia and make positive changes in the tissue. And there are few instances where just changing the fascia/tissue may restore a proper range/biomechanical position, so during your everyday activity you restore the proper activation, length-tension relationship, biomechanics, etc. But, from my experience, there is usually an underlying muscular inhibition or improper activation patterns that are causing the poor biomechanics, posture, and resulting in the poor tissue/fascia. Also, FME, the body will respond more when active stimulus is presented, not just passive (active meaning muscle re-education, corrective exercise, mobility drills, etc; passive meaning soft tissue work, manual therapists including manipulations, mobilizations, etc).

I somewhat agree with your practitioner's statement again, but what is causing your "bad habits". Are you rounding forward because the anterior musculature and fascia are tight, or because your posterior musculature is weak and unable to support proper posture, or is it both? Or could it be poor thoracic mobility due to imbalanced/improper muscle activation? To just say "don't do anything wrong" is a pretty vague statement, and it may be something that you can't just think of "oh, I just won't do that". It may be something you need to correct with exercise, muscle re-education, etc. If you have poor scapular muscular control, then your shoulder won't be moving optimally. You can think of holding proper positioning 24/7, which is likely impossible. Or, you could train those scapular stabilizers with proper corrective exercise and make it a natural body action.

The frontal assessments shouldn't have any negative effects what-so-ever. The assessments themselves will just show where your body is standing at that given moment and guide you towards what exercises would be best to correct what-ever pathology/imbalance is present. If anything, doing the assessment and the exercise in conjunction with the ROLFing would be optimal. You are combining the active (exercise) and passive (ROLFing) stimulus/therapy, which will give the best results.

Not quite sure what the difference your practitioner is trying to make between the "applying force" and hanging, as when you hang into a stretch (first stretch that comes into mind is a hamstring stretch), you are essentially applying body force. If he is trying to say that you do not want to force your body into a stretch it is not ready for, then yes, I agree with that. The body will initially respond to a stretch by making the muscle contract as a protective mechanism, but after holding it for about 10 seconds, the muscle will relax and allow the stretch to take place. There is a lot of debate over the effectiveness of stretching, but that is a whole separate conversation.

By no means am I saying that I am right and your ROLFer is wrong. You just asked for opinions on things, so I gave mine. But the one thing that I will say is that even after your ROLFing, you still have lingering back pain. So maybe there is something missing in your therapy approach to help fix the problem.


OP, have a look on the injury related forum and you will find another post about a guy with rhomboid issues (fairly recent). I feel he is having similar issues and so am I. I just thought you should maybe go check it out because it might help you. But just to let you know, I have had my issue (sounds VERY similar to yours) for about 8 months and it has not gone away. My chiro did the same in unlocking my spine, which eliminated so of the radiating pain, but the localised pain still exists. I've just started with a physiotherapist who does much more manual work and the muscles and has me doing a lot of shoulder stability work (rotator cuff work, serratus to help w/ scapular winging). Funny how someone mentioned the serratus posterior, because mine defiantly feels tight. Just wanted to let you know I feel your pain, and if I get this thing sorted I will defiantly let you know man, I am only 20 myself and it sucks not being in the gym. But yeah I posted a bit more detail in the other forum, it might be an idea to read through the whole thing (dw its not much). Im focusing on my studies, so I won't be posting on this site much, but I'll keep an eye on this and the other forum when I can, and I'll help in anyway I can, but for now, Im in pretty much the same position as you (jerked around, and nobody is really helping)

Edit: http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_injuries/rhomboid_injury


LevelHeaded: Thanks for your reply. I will definately go through the whole A&C Program.

powersnatch: I am glad to hear of people with similar issues, although i do not really have scapular winging.
Yes it sucks so hard, being this young and out of the gym for almost a year already. 56x11 is completely right, at this point a positive attitude makes the difference between failure or success. Thanks for the link, going to check it out. Good luck with your recovery!


No scap winging is definitely a good thing. Ive had similar issue with hyper lordosis (lumbar), slightly kyphotic thoracic spine and rolled shoulders. My lordotic tendencies are still there but I have managed to reduce that quite a lot. My shoulders and upper back have also recently been improving and it seems to have a positive affect on my injury, but its a bit too early to tell. I'll try my best to keep you updated man I know how frustrating it is. I actually considered changing my major to either physiotherapy or chiropractor (from nutrition dietetics and exercise science, not out of the blue, I would actually be quite good at that stuff based on how I do in anatomy, physiology etc.) because I was so unhappy with the lack of knowledge of the professionals I worked with hahah. I've just started with a new physio which seems to be going well, so hopefully I can share some good tips soon. Best of luck, hope your back in the gym soon bro.


Already done the active Assessment part of the program today.
Still have to find a way to take pictures of myself for the static assesment part.
I have an excellent 5MP camera on my blackberry but can't find a way to set it up for a self shot.
I have some other old camera lying around but the quality isn't that good.

Here are the notes i took for the Active assesment part:

[i]-Neutral Spine test: Too big lumbar curve
- Cevical Range of Motion Flexion: OK
-Thoracic Spine Rotation: OK
- Pec Minor length: Short pec minor, measured about 3 inches.
- Pec Major Length (Clavicular head): too Short
-Pec Major Length(Sternal Head): too short
-Shoulder Flexion Range of Motion: Fail
-External Shoulder Rotation: Pass
-Internal Shoulder Rotation: Fail
-Upward Scapular Rotation: Pass
-Supine straight leg raise: Pass
-Supine Faber: Left leg: Almost good 5-10% away from parallel

-Supine Hip/Knee Flexion: Pass
- Seated hip and knee flexion: Pass
- Quadruped Rock Back - Part 1: Too big lumbar curve (hyperlordosis)
Slightly big thoracic curve ( very slightly kyphosis i think)
Part 2: Fail
- Prone Knee flexion: Fail
- Thomas Test: Fail -> The Psoas is short and maybe also work a bit on the TFL, but mostly psoas
Supine Hip Abduction and Adduction: Pass although feeling tight feeling in hamstring against the knee when abducting left leg. Left leg seems slightly less flexible than right (5-10 degrees difference)

Seated Hip Internal Rotation (foot outward): Left side at least 35degree as it is optimal, right side 10-15degree more than recommended
Seated Hip External Rotation (foot inward): Fail on right foot (only 30-35degree angle) while left side seems ok (45degree angle as optimal)
Prone Hip Internal Rotation: Same as Seated hip internal Rotation
Prone Hip External Rotation: Same as seated hip External Rotation
----> These tests make me believe my right leg stands a bit 'away' from my body just like my rolfer told me. It lacks External Hip Rotation ROM but has more internal hip rotation ROM than normal

Closed Chain Ankle Dorsiflexion: OK
Single Leg Squat (Glute Medius Function): Slight fail. Knee slighly bends inward -> Weak glute Medius
Single Leg Bridge (Glute Max Function): Fail -> Weak Glute Max[/i]

Conclusions i could make until now:
-I have Anterior Pelvic Tilt (hyper lordosis)
-I may have very slight kyphosis, nothing too noticeble though
-I have a bad case of forward rolled shoulders
-My pec major and pec minor muscles are too short
-I have very tight hip flexors, psoas muscle mainly
- I have weak/unactive glute medius and glute max
- Right leg seems to slightly have more ROM in abduction. This could be an illusion though
- I have a little tight groin muscles on my right side (FABER test = a little immobile in Flexing, ABduction, Rotation of the hip )
-And finally, my right leg stands a little bit 'away from my body'
(or slightly rotated internal?) (exactly how my rolfer described it. And this in turn makes my right leg seem shorter, it's only 3 milimetres now maybe. Before i started rolfing it was about 9milimeter shorter, so rolfing already made it about 60% better.) This is also noticeble when i lie down since my Rolfer pointed out, my right leg 'sticks out' a little bit, if i look carefully i can notice it.

[b]I notice this because on the Internal Hip Rotation tests, my right hip has slightly more ROM than is optimal ( legs turn for 45degrees while my left hip turn for 35degrees [35degrees being stated as 'normal'])
And then on the External hip rotation tests, again i have the optimal ROM for my left leg, but the right leg LACKS about 10degrees of ROM from optimal.

This made me conclude my right leg is internally rotated for about 10-15degrees.

I guess this means i have to use the corrective exercises for increasing External Hip Rotation ROM only for the right leg(?) and should ignore the Internal rotation exercises and also ignore the left leg since is already has optimal ROM. I think this is common sense though lol.[/b]

Thanks guy i'm really looking forward to improve my posture and i hope i will start to see improvements in a few weeks. :slight_smile:
Doing my best to post my static pictures tomorrow so you guys can also spot imbalances i might not see.