Are you suffering from a “knot” in your back? The most common place for these muscle spasms or contractions is between your shoulder blade and spine. They usually occur on the side of your dominant hand (the one you use the most.)

So what causes these painful knots and what can you do to get rid of them?

There are different types of muscle contractions. A “contraction” is a shortening of a muscle. One type is protective. If a muscle is stretched too much, too often, it will contract (get short or spasm.) It does this to protect itself.

So, if a muscle is being over-stretched and is in danger of being torn, it will shorten to prevent damage to itself. An example of this is what happens to your back muscles. Your muscles are complaining. They don’t like being over-stretched. To make sure you understand their message, they give you pain.

You get a knot.

Here’s another example:

If you hold a muscle in a short position for a long period of time, it can “forget” how to relax and be as long as it should. An example of this would be flexing your bicep muscle (the muscle on the front of your upper arm) for a long time.

So sometimes a back spasm can be triggered by holding something for an extended period while you contract your arm or body muscles. A tight area on the front of your body or under your arm toward your back can pull on the muscles on the opposite side of your shoulder blade.

The muscles that are being pulled on the opposite side don’t like it, so they give you a message: pain.

The good news is that once you figure out the cause(s) of your pain, you will be able to take simple, natural steps to get rid of it. Drugs like pain relievers and muscle relaxants don’t cure your problem. They only mask it.

In fact, it is my understanding from my training that muscle relaxants don’t relax a spasm. They only relax the rest of the muscles that are in a more normal condition. The knot stays and the muscles that surround it relax.

And now I’d like to invite you to discover how to heal the pain in your upper back naturally at

It doesn’t matter whether you call them knots, muscles spasms or contractions, the fact is they hurt. You can claim your free report “Five Steps To Get Rid Of Those Miserable Knots In Your Back” now.

I’m Kathryn Merrow, The Pain Relief Coach, and I look forward to helping you get rid of those knots in your back and shoulder bladeĀ  naturally.


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18 Comments on How To Get Rid Of Painful Knots In Your Back

  1. Twitter Tweets about upper back pain as of July 11, 2010 | BACK PAIN TWEETS says:

    […] 11, 2010 | 0 Permalink | Reply KathrynMerrow: article: How To Get Rid Of Painful… http://www.simplebackpainrelie.....your-back/ 2010-07-10 23:57:52 · Reply · View TwitterDoodle by The Lessnau Lounge Share and […]

  2. Twitter Tweets about upper back pain as of July 12, 2010 | BACK PAIN TWEETS says:

    […] 14:21:37 · Reply · View KathrynMerrow: article: How To Get Rid Of Painful… http://www.simplebackpainrelie.....your-back/ 2010-07-12 14:21:36 · Reply · View LiveWellWithDrG: Health Update:: VINIYOGA […]

  3. nadan naidoo says:

    Hi,I have been suffering from everyday discomfort, irritation and pain for the past 3 years.(cervical and recently thorasic)I went for 3 mri scans but it shows mild disk protusion c4,5,6 and7. I have tried acupuncture,chiros,nerve block injections massages personal trainer to work on muscles but no relief. I have used msm, pain killers and other medicine but no relief. I am currently going for massages can you please give advice?

  4. Hello Nadan,

    Here’s my best long distance guess. Has your massage therapist worked on the muscles on the front of your neck behind your windpipe? Lots of massage therapists only work on the muscles on the back side and skip the sides and front. You may have to find a new therapist who can treat the muscles on your anterior cervical spine.

    As far as I am concerned, massage is one of the best (maybe THE best) medicines in the world so I’m glad you are doing that. Tight muscles in the front of the neck can cause the disks to move. That’s why they need treatment.

    Hope this helps.

  5. Thomas glace says:

    Hi I’m 18 and I lift alot of weights I’m perfectly fine I stretch yoga but I still have random horrible spasms under my shoulder blade on both sides and it happens maybe once every month in a half on both sides I’ve been told u can see the knots in my back when I lift

  6. Hi Thomas, Thank you for writing. A couple of things come to mind: (1) I suspect it is not knots that someone is seeing when you lift but rather your muscles flexing. (2) There are muscles sandwiched between your shoulder blades and ribs. There are also muscles below your shoulder blades, closer to your waist. I’m guessing you mean those lower muscles?

    If you are spending more time strengthening your pecs and biceps than your back, your back muscles could be complaining. The muscles in the chest and front of the arms are about 30% stronger than the muscles on the backside naturally. The back needs more strengthening to keep things in balance.

    Also, how’s your posture? If it’s nice and upright, no problem. But if you have a tendency to slouch or spend time bending over a laptop you could be over-stretching your back muscles and that makes them complain. When your back muscles complain they go into knots.

    I hope this helps. Enjoy your lifting!

    The Pain Relief Coach

  7. Thomas glace says:

    Thank u!! Helped alot im going to work on strengthen my back more I’ll check in in a couple of weeks to let u know how it’s going.

  8. Hi Thomas, You’re welcome! Looking forward to hearing how well you are doing getting rid of those knots in your back. šŸ™‚

    The Pain Relief Coach

  9. Jack D. Bradley says:

    Hi Kathryn,
    I have one major knot that reoccurs on the left bottom part of shoulder blade – it is so sore. I go to massage with physio and always feel better when finished, but, it returns. Any suggestions?

  10. Hello Jack,

    The cause of the knot is not where you feel it. That knot is just the symptom. The massage therapist needs to work lower on your back and on the outer side of your back in the terres and lat muscles, and probably also on the front side of your chest and upper arm and the ribs on that same side.

    If the person doing the massage is only working on the area of the knot, they are just chasing symptoms.

    You may have to direct the areas of massage. If an area feels really, really tender to the touch, there is a good chance that it is a place that is causing the knot. And the knot cannot get better until the cause(s) is eliminated.

    You can find more articles here about the causes of knots in your back. I hope this helps you get rid of that knot on the bottom of your shoulder blade.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  11. Koby613 says:

    So I got out of surgery about a week ago, on my jaw (unrelated I know) But over the past couple days i’ve been developing a pain in my Lower back, at first I thought nothing of it until i was lying down without a shirt, and my girlfriend came across a small “knot like bump” below my left side rib cage.. she said it felt a bit too hard to be a knot, but it still could be.. Now before the surgery I was working out 3-4 times a week, and keeping active with Cardio and what not.. so she tried to help me out with a bit of a massage to see if it’d lighten up a bit.. Turns out it got worse.. Any idea what the problem is, or If it’s even a knot at all?

  12. Well, it could be related to your jaw because everything in the body is related but I suspect not (from this distance.)

    Here are my best long distance guesses:

    1. There are ribs that aren’t attached to the breast bone. They are called floating ribs. If it was below your rib case she might have been feeling the front end of one of these ribs. It would feel hard but I don’t know why it would get worse.

    2. Lots of people get fatty cysts or a variety of lumps and bumps. Most of the time they aren’t anything.

    3. You can get muscle knots in the rib muscles and in the abdominals but you don’t seem to think that’s it.

    4. I don’t know what you mean by ‘got worse’. Did it get painful, larger or harder?

    5. Was the lump/bump/knot red, hot and swollen when she found it? If so, go see your doctor just in case it’s a blood clot from the surgery. But that doesn’t sound like what you were saying, either.

    Thank you for writing and I hope something here will be helpful with the knot on your side.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  13. Put a heat pack on it or if that doesn’t work put an ice pack on it. If that doesn’t still doesn’t work after about 5 minutes then go for a hot shower and run the hot water on your back where the knot is. It always helps me so I hope it helps you. From Anonymous (answer to your question person)

  14. Thank you very much for writing. That’s very kind of you to offer help. šŸ™‚

    Sometimes the muscle knot can be relieved with heat or cold and I’m glad you have good results when you do that.

    But sometimes it’s KNOT where it seems to be. Lots of time the knot is caused by muscles on the other side of the body and they need to be released in order for the knot to release.

    The problem with heating just the back side of the body is this: The back muscles get more and more relaxed. That means they get weaker and weaker, in essence. We don’t want weak back muscles. We need strong backs! Weak backs are more likely to get knots.

    A hot shower can be used as a tool to warm ALL of the upper body muscles. Just aim it at your neck and chest and the sides of your ribs. That way everything gets relaxed and stays more in balance.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  15. JacquiJ says:

    I have had constant back pain and knots all over my upper and lower back. I realized recently that I now have knots in my upper arm mucles and on the sides of my butt. what can I do. I am expecting-16weeks and extremely uncomfortable

  16. Hi Jacqui, Thank you for mentioning that you are expecting. That causes your posture to change. If this is all new for you, I’m leaning toward posture being the culprit especially if your belly is large.

    I would suggest working to strengthen your back. You can still hold in your stomach muscles, too. Just contract them–squeeze your belly button to your spine.

    Squeeze your shoulder blades to your spine. Roll your shoulder blades up and back, up and back.

    Do you know the cat & dog stretch? Also called cat & camel. It is done on all fours while flexing the spine up and down.

    You can use tennis ball therapy for the sides of your butt and the knots in your back but the important thing is to adjust your posture. Getting a strong back side is a very helpful way to do that. Good posture = fewer knots and less back muscle pain.

    I suspect your chest muscles are also tight. You can stretch them in a doorway by holding onto the sides of the door frame and leaning forward. You can do one side or both at the same time. See which feels better to you.

    You can also stretch your chest muscles and the muscles in the fronts of your arms by leaning over a swim noodle. Instead of laying flat on the noodle lie more on your side and let the noodle act as a pivot point for your shoulder blade. If you watch the video link (just above) you will get a better idea of what I mean.

    Also, please mention your symptoms to your doctor just in case there is something about pregnancy that sometimes causes muscles spasm. He or she may have no idea and that would be good. In that case, just work on your posture.

    Watch the way you sit, too. I don’t know your height or build but when you sit stick your tailbone way back into the crack of the chair, couch or seat. If the seat doesn’t fit you, use a pillow or folded towel behind your waist. No slouching allowed! šŸ™‚

    I hope this helps you get rid of the constant back pain and knots in your upper and lower back.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  17. Marissa says:

    Please help, I have a knot in the crook of my left shoulder blade, I’ve tried countless times to rid myself of the knot, have had countless massages, and even used tennis balls and self massage hooks and such yet it will not go away, recently, it has caused such pain that I cannot lift my left arm without the searing pain from the now angry knot causing such pain and discomfort I cannot use my arm regularly. The knot seems to cause pain up my trapezius all the way to my beck to the base of my skull, I cannot keep going to the chiropractor every time this knot comes back( I have had that same knot return for years ) as my insurance will or pay for consecutive sessions throughout the year, and yes I have tried Aroma therapy, tiger balm, hot and cold water bengay, nothing seems to be working please help!

  18. Hi Marissa, I’m trying to decide what the crook of your shoulder blade is. It sounds like you are talking about knots and pain on the spine side of your shoulder blade?

    So, it hurts on the spine side. The problem is somewhere else. Your knot is just a symptom.

    Here’s my best long distance thought at the moment: The CAUSE is the muscles on the OPPOSITE side of your shoulder blade.

    Ask someone (who is not mad at you) to grab and squeeze the outer side of your back, the lat muscle, the tissue on the outer side of your shoulder blade under your arm pit. If someone lifts (pulls the muscle away from your body) and squeezes the muscle (not just the skin) it may be very tender. That’s a good clue that the lat muscle is tight and causing problems/knots/pain.

    If someone rubs or presses on the knot, it won’t be able to relax if muscles elsewhere (lat) are pulling on the shoulder blade (and therefor the muscle in the knot area.) Or it may feel better for two hours and then come back.

    There are other muscles besides the latissimus which may be involved but that’s most likely the main one causing the problem and addressing/pinching the lat may just take care of the problem.

    It WILL be tender to be pinched! Very tender! But that means it needs treatment and it’s a very effective treatment. If someone can grab and ‘pinch’ /hold that painful lat for a couple of minutes, (and then let go gently) you will notice the knot area feeling much better within 20 minutes after the pinch is released.

    Please let me know if I got the right area–the pain is between your left shoulder blade and spine. And please let me know if pinching the lat was the answer.

    Thank you for asking and take good care of you,

    The Pain Relief Coach