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Sitting causes me to have constant pain and burning between my shoulder blades and headaches in the back of my head. I have to sit for my job most of the day, how can I get rid of this?

First, lets talk about why you are getting the burning between your shoulder blades and the headaches in the back of your head.

When you sit for prolonged periods on a daily or near daily basis, you develop muscle imbalances. As you sit, your body begins to slouch which causes your shoulders to round and the head to sit in a forward position. When you slouch and the shoulders become rounded, the muscles in your upper back and between your shoulder blades are over-stretched and elongated. This causes the muscles between your shoulder blades and along your upper spine to be weak because they are too long to do their job (which is to keep you upright and in good posture) effectively.

When these muscles become weak and over-stretched, they begin to spasm, and you notice a “burning sensation” because the muscles are protecting themselves from stretching to the point where they tear. Also, when you slouch and round your shoulders, the muscles in the front of your chest become shortened and tight (which also contributes to the over-lengthening and weakness of the muscles between the shoulder blades).

Also, as you slouch, your head drifts into a forward position with the chin tilted slightly up. This causes the muscles in the front of the neck to be over-stretched. The muscles in the back of the neck and skull become shortened and tight. As these muscles become shortened and tight, they compress a nerve that travels up the back of your head — this is what causes the headaches in the back of your head.

So how can you get rid of the burning and pain between your shoulder blades and the headaches?

This requires a multifaceted approach. First, you must address your sitting posture, your work station and decrease the amount of time you sit without taking a brake and changing positions. Next, you must reverse the muscle imbalances, so shorten and strengthen over-stretched muscles and lengthen the tight muscles.

The expert physical therapists at Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy instruct you on how to set your workstation up properly to place the least amount of stress on your back and neck. They also make recommendations on the chair that places your back, head and neck in the best position possible.

In addition, your physical therapist will instruct you in the exercises that will reverse your muscle imbalances, which will eradicate your headaches and the burning/pain between your shoulder blades.

If you are experiencing headaches and or burning/pain between the shoulder blades that is keeping you from being able to perform your job or other activities that you need to be able to do, call today for your free screening at 717-245-0400 to see how we can help you get your life back.

If you have a question you would like me to answer in one of my upcoming columns, please email your question to: smiller@cardinmillerpt.com.

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Steve Miller is the owner of Cardin and Miller Physical Therapy and can be reached by email at smiller@cardinmillerpt.com. His column will appear bi-monthly in the Thrive section of the Sentinel and on Cumberlink.com.