An Explanation for your Shoulder & Back Pain

Do you suffer from chronic shoulder and upper back pain?

I’m going to tell you something that usually shocks people when they see me about pain in their upper traps. You have a rib that high. That’s right folks. Your first rib is pretty high up there - and sometimes it causes issues.


Sometimes that rib just doesn’t move as well as it should, causing pain and tension throughout the upper trap region. It can also cause pain up into the neck and head as well as numbness, tingling, and pain down the arm. If numbness down the arm occurs, seek medical attention immediately. This can be a symptom of something called Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which can be caused by the first rib, as well as other structures.

When evaluating a patient, if I feel that the first rib is part of their problem, I teach them a technique they can use at home to mobilize it and also loosen up the upper trap at the same time. For this technique, you need a foam roller. I suggest the Axle from RAD. Lean it up against a wall as shown below, wedge it into your upper trap and push into it like you’re trying to push the roller through the wall. You can use small rolling motions up and down to also roll out your upper trap. When you have found a good trigger point in the muscle, you can look down and to the opposite shoulder to get a really good stretch. Here’s how this looks. The Atom by RAD can also be helpful when trying to release the upper trap and mobilize the 1st rib.


Back to blog