T Nation

Tightness in Upper Back


Figured this technically isn't an injury or rehab, so I'm posting it here.

I've had trouble finding much information on this online, and pain is really getting to me (I just went to modells during my lunch break to use a baseball to roll my back).

I've had a tightness in this area (refer to picture) for the past month or so and when I turn my head to the right or when I tilt my head right I feel it more. Often I regain my ROM and feel much better after using a lax ball every few days to roll that area outlining my shoulder blade (while bringing my arm across my body).

However, I am aware that this is only a temporary fix stemming from a muscular imbalance. Which was probably made worse this summer because of my internship where my right arm is positioned too high on the desk and I sit at a computer even more than in school.

I've read this before and I've been doing facepulls since I started training, but I'm going to give these other exercises a try and see if they act in an antagonistic way and relieve the pain.


If anyone has experienced this or have any other suggestions it'd be much appreciated.


I've been dealing with the exact same thing in the same spot. It started when I got a new desk and chair at work. I tried to foam roll it and use the lax ball, but it didn't get better until I started getting massages. I've had 6 within the last 3 weeks and it's almost totally gone now.

Also, it can't just be a relaxing spa massage. These were pretty hardcore, intense deep tissue massages. They would focus on that specific area, but also the right trap, shoulder, neck, and even chest. The first couple were incredibly painful.


Crap, sounds expensive. Did you go to a certified kind of person/sports trainer, or will a good ol' china town rubdown do? Don't know if I can throw down on that many massages.


That's a good article and worth reading.

It sounds like you have adhesions in your right rhomboids and/or mid traps. When you use the baseball for smr, does it "feel right" or does it feel like you need something more precise? If the latter, you may want to invest in a Thera Cane for something similar. (Damn - this is the second time I mentioned that product; I should be earning a commission.) Anyway this device or others like it (there are several different manufacturers) will allow to precisely work the trigger point in between visits to a skilled therapist.


you only use it every few days?? maybe try getting in there a bit more frequently. daily. maybe even twice a day. remember the aim is to get the muscle to relax - not to get it to cramp up and bash it about.

do you do rotator cuff stuff? how is your shoulder rotation?


She is a sports massage therapist at a chiropracter's office. They charge $1 a minute and I typically go for 30 minutes a session. My insurance also helps. After meeting my deductible, it's $18 for 30 minutes. It can add up, but it's worth it if you feel better.


hm ill look into the pricing with my insurance. I've been more consistent with the lax ball from 4-5 days to everyday now and see how that goes.

Guess it wasnt a muscular imbalance.


try doing shoulder rotation while you are rolling around on the ball. i found some pretty sharp trigger points in mine with internal rotation.


I'm going through the same thing.

One thing I've found that helps (albeit hasn't solved the issue) is to use a softball to roll out the upper trap.

The size of the softball allows you to really dig in to the top of the upper trap.

Has anyone completely alleviated this issue?