“Knots” or muscle spasms in your upper back happen for a reason.

Almost all pain happens for a reason or a cause.  If you get rid of the cause, you can get rid of the pain!

Most often the reason for upper back muscle spasms is a “forward head” posture which strains and aggravates upper back muscles. If you can correct your posture and strengthen your upper back muscles, that will help.

Working with your hands and head in front of your body for long periods (or even short periods if the knots have already started) can cause knots, too.

Here are two ways to get rid of your knots:

1.  Strengthen your back.  That will improve your posture and help you get rid of the “forward head”.

2.  Therapeutic massage can be an excellent way to get rid of muscle knots.

But just blasting away on muscle knots won’t work if the knots are caused by something else (like your posture.) Blasting away will just hurt and you will still have the knot!

You have to get rid of the cause!

On the other hand, sometimes the cause of the knot IS actually where it hurts and those knots can be treated easily with massage or tennis ball pressure therapy. (<– click to learn how.)


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11 Comments on What Causes Knots In Your Upper Back

  1. suresh says:

    thank a million
    your tips and suggestion are pretty effective
    iam working onn…
    thank you

  2. Hi Suresh,

    Thank you, too! You are on the right track. 🙂


  3. justin says:

    I haved a rhombiod knot for 3 years now, ever since I played video games… It has’t gone away..everytime I sit down and lean forward the comes comes instaly.. and is around all day usualy. The only way I can relieve it is by laying down flat on my back or standiing straight up on a wall… its horrible pain.. I’m a college baseball player and I have to work out everyday and I rarley have time to do other back excersises nevermind going to physical therapy. I’m stuck and I just want the pain gone 🙁

  4. Hi Justin,

    The knot is not in your rhomboid muscle but just in that area.

    1. Don’t lean forward since that aggravates it.

    2. Ask someone to grab your lat muscle and the muscle under your armpit at the edge of your shoulder blade and to squeeze or pinch it. You don’t want them to just grab skin–make sure they get ahold of a lot of muscle tissue. If it is very uncomfortable for you, that’s good–means the muscle is too tight. If they can hold the muscle for about 20-30 seconds that’s good. In about 30 minutes you will notice that the pain is gone.

    3. Can you switch to the other hand for video games and mousing? Sure you can. 🙂

    4. Take a few minutes several times a day to stretch the front of your chest and arms and to squeeze your shoulder blades toward your spine.

    I’d love to hear how this works for the knot in your back. If you need more help I have a free report and a program with instructional videos at http://KnotsInYourBack.com

    Take care,
    The Pain Relief Coach

  5. Jan Shelton says:

    Knots in my neck caused from herniated disk . Seems like my whole shoulders got 3 inches higher than other side. Chiro says I have thoracic outlet syndrome. I get massages every week. I found that yoga helped til I got vertigo (bPPV). now I octant bend my head forward or sideways without feeling dizzy. Knots are huge in my neck & head. Massage is the only thing that works til this dizziness goes away!

  6. Hi Jan,

    I don’t blame you for feeling frustrated! You said the knots in your neck are caused by a herniated disk. Let’s go a step farther back.

    What caused the herniated disk? Unless you had an accident that whipped your bones around, the most likely cause is muscles or muscle imbalance. Disks don’t move unless muscles pull on them. They can’t. Muscles move bones and disks.

    I’m glad you are having massage. It’s the greatest medicine! Ask your therapist if she can recommend someone else who knows how to release the muscles that are causing your thoracic outlet syndrome (syndrome: a collection of symptoms.) Those are the same muscles that are causing lots of your knots.

    Or maybe she learned how to release the scalene muscles in training but isn’t making the tie-in with your symptoms. The scalenes are on the sides of your neck basically and she will have to release your SCM muscles first.

    So what may have caused your thoracic outlet symptoms and knots in the first place? The usual culprit is posture.

    The disk may be pressing on nerves but everything can get back closer to normal when the muscles that started the whole issue are happy and relaxed again.

    Regarding the vertigo: That can also be muscle related. There are muscles in your temple and jaw and neck that pull on the inner workings of ears. And posture can also play a role.

    Jan, please remember I am not a doctor.

    I hope this helps you understand your situation a little better and that it helps you get on the road to being free of your vertigo, herniated disk and the knots in your neck.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  7. Jan, also when your muscles start to be more balanced here’s how to correct your posture.

    1. Stretch the muscles in the whole front of your body. Your massage therapist can help this along with massage if she knows how to work on fronts of bodies.
    2. Strengthen the muscles on the back of your body from knees to head.

    The first step is to release or relax the tight muscles. They are usually in the front of the body although they are not the ones who complain.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  8. Andrea says:

    I keep getting knots on the right side of the back of my neck. I do not understand your advice about not leaning the head forward, how is it possible not to lean your head forward? Are you suppose to bend from your waist? Thanks!

  9. Hi Andrea, I love your question because it will help me learn how to explain more clearly when I tell people how to avoid getting knots in their upper back and neck. Thank you!

    Yes, you can bend from your waist while keeping a straight back. Let’s say you are bending over to pick up a child. Bend forward with a straight back and use your legs to lower your body.

    You can look down with your eyes rather than your whole head. Let’s say you are reading or using a laptop or other device. Hold your head in a neutral position, over your shoulders rather than out in front of them, and look down with your eyes. Turn your eyes downward while facing straight ahead.

    Laptops and other electronic devices can be absolutely horrid for necks and backs. They are not ergonomic unless you add a mouse and keyboard and use the laptop monitor as your monitor.

    Here is a possible reason that you are getting knots on the right side of the back of your neck: Do you tend to look in one direction with your head rotated? For instance, if you watch tv and sit in your favorite corner of the couch do you have to turn your head to see the tv? Or do you use a keyboard while turning your head to see the text you are copying?

    Another possible reason may be the way you sleep. Do you always sleep on the same side? Perhaps your pillow doesn’t support your neck well enough.

    Sometimes we can get away with tilting our head downward. But if we do it often, the muscles get overstretched and go into a type of contraction that can be quite painful and feel like a ‘knot.’

    I hope this helps you get rid of the knots on the back of your neck, Andrea. I hope I answered your questions in a more clear way. 🙂

    The Pain Relief Coach

  10. karanjeet singh says:

    Sir I had knot in my back of upper arm in right side from 5 years due to heavy weight lift in gym. Bcz of dis I had suffer so many difficulties in my life in my work from past 5 years initially I couldn’t spot dat it is knot n my physio says dat u had cervical problem bt after so many treatment it couldn’t correct so kindly suggest me vat I do

  11. Hello Karanjeet, Based on your description, I think that you may mean the muscle on the side of your back near your arm? The muscle on the outer edge of your shoulder blade? Please let me know if that is true. I am sorry for my delay in responding. Next response will be faster.