A very very common area clients have tension or trigger points they had NO idea existed is on top of the shoulder blade, or the muscle known as the infraspinatus. The infraspinatus is part of the rotator cuff muscle group and it’s one people don’t really feel when it’s being used. Functions of this muscle include lateral rotation of the arm and stabilization of the shoulder joint. It’s responsible along with 3 other muscles for keep the head of the humerus from slipping out of the socket when you move your shoulder. Clients I have found to have issues with this muscle have been people whom work at desk jobs, dental assistants, chefs, auto techs, swimmers, MMA fighters, boxers, and those who regularly attend a martial arts class.
Symptoms that are likely caused from trigger points in the infraspinatus muscle are tendonitis in the elbow, bicepital tendonitis, numbness or tingling down the arm, forearm tension, pain or tension in the deltoids (shoulder), and potentially pain in the wrist.
If you look at the trigger point pattern shown in the picture above, it’s showing what’s called a pain referral pattern. Pain referrals are important and often telling for massage therapists due to the fact that it let’s us know what other muscles may be affected from the trigger point. For example, I mentioned how more than 90% of the clients never knew they had trigger points on the infraspinatus muscle. So a client will come in and describe having numbness down their arm when they wake in the morning, shoulder pain and forearm tension. They say that they sit prolonged hours throughout the work day 5 days a week and do not exercise regularly. No mention of ‘shoulder blade’ pain.
One of the first muscles I examine is the infraspinatus, and almost, almost 100% of the time the client feels a shooting pain or tingling down their arm. And sure enough, they feel trigger points or knots in the locations where they felt the tingling in the arm (bicep, forearm, deltoids, or wrist)
Along with this muscle, I examine the scalenes, pectoralis major and minor, deltoids, the other 3 rotator cuff muscles, (subscapularis, supraspinatus, and teres minor).
Ways to help reduce infraspinatus dysfunction and tension: massage , rotator cuff strengthening, self trigger point release using a thera cane or back buddy, stay hydrated.