What Are the Rhomboid Muscles?
At Entegra Health Parkville, a common Remedial Massage complaint regarding the upper thoracic area, involves the Rhomboid muscles. The Rhomboid muscles are located deep to the Upper Trapezius muscles and attached to the scapula (shoulder blades). The Rhomboid muscles comprise two pairs of muscles: Rhomboid Minor and Rhomboid Major; originating at cervical vertebrae 7 to thoracic vertebrae 1 (C7-T1); and thoracic vertebrae 5-7 (T5-T7) respectively. Both medially attach the scapula to the spine.
What is its function?
The name ‘Rhomboid’ is derived from the rhombus shape of the muscles. The Rhomboid muscles primarily function to support actions requiring movements of the scapula/shoulder, including drawing the scapula together, and rotation of the shoulders. In order to successfully undertake these actions, the Rhomboid muscles function in conjunction with the Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapulae and Pectoral muscles.
What tension related problems can occur here?
Tension commonly associated with the Rhomboid muscles is often attributed to poor posture concerns, and upper back pain and discomfort. Common postural concerns include rounded shoulders, contributing to a forward neck (poking forward) position.
Furthermore, as the Rhomboids are responsible for stabilization of the scapula, upper thoracic and shoulders in general, tension and/or weakness in this area may result in upper thoracic dysfunction and difficulties, including reduced weight or loading abilities.
Tension within the surrounding muscles of the spinous processes of the neck may also contribute to nerve related conditions, including Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). Common symptoms that may be attributed to TOS can include: tingling and/or numbness in the hands or fingers, reduced range of movement and/or frozen shoulder conditions, due to nerve impingement by surrounding shoulder structures. These conditions may also reduce circulation within the arms, hands and fingers.
How Can I Reduce Muscular Tension in This Area? | Rhomboid Stretch
At Entegra Health Parkville, tension related to the Rhomboid muscles is commonly the result of over extension, or overuse of these muscles in a forward head position. Tension in the upper thoracic may also be associated with weakness in the Rhomboid muscles. Common upper thoracic postural compensation patterns are often related to a desk based position, device use and/or sitting positions for prolonged periods of time.
The following self management options may assist to effectively reduce muscular tension and increase stability of the Rhomboid muscles between Remedial Massage treatments:
Stretches to lengthen the Rhomboid muscles between the shoulder blades can greatly assist in the reduction of tension in these muscles. For example: shoulder roll stretches, and simple rhomboid stretches (see Entegra Health Stretch Library here). Stretches to reduce tension in the Pectoral muscles in the anterior (front) muscles of the chest may also assist the reduction of tension in the upper back and Rhomboid area.
Foam Rolling | Rhomboid Stretch
Foam rolling of the upper thoracic area may also significantly reduce tension, and provide muscular relief in the upper back muscles, and the thoracic and cervical spine.
Strengthening of the Rhomboid muscles may also assist in the prevention of fatigue and over-stretching of the upper thoracic area, thereby reducing pain and discomfort whilst supporting stabilization of the scapula and overall posture. Examples of Rhomboid strengthening exercises include use of a rowing machine, and hand held weights for the upper back and shoulder blade muscles.
For further information regarding Remedial Massage, or treatment options, please contact us via email. Access to free online resources including stretch and exercise video resources can also be found on our website.