Why are muscles spasms in upper backs such a common problem now?

Here’s a list of some of the most common reasons.

Car seats.
Working positions.
Weak back muscles.
TMS (Too Much Sitting)
TMJF (Too Much Junk Food) Poor nutrition

But all of these can be overcome.  Honest!  It’s your body and you have to take action to get better.  No one can do it for you.  (But some people, like a skilled massage therapist, can help you get started.)

I have faith in you.  Just start taking action and you can get rid of the muscle knots in your upper back.

You see, when you were very young you used all of your muscles.  And that was a very good thing.  That’s what we are supposed to do.

And now, you’re not.  Or you are using some but not others.

And that’s the problem.

But that’s okay.  Why?

Muscles can heal.  Bodies get better all the time.  That includes your body!

You can find articles here that will help you.  Just scroll through the list of articles on the right hand side.  And if you would like, sign up for the free report about upper back knots.

If you educate yourself about the real cause(s) of your upper back pain, you can get rid of it.  You will probably end up learning things that even your doctor doesn’t know.  🙂

Doctors don’t learn much in med school about how muscles work and why they get knotted up.  At least, not most doctors.  But they do learn how to mask symptoms.

But we don’t want to cover up symptoms; we want to get RID of the causes of symptoms.  Knots or muscle spasms are just symptoms.  Your muscles are complaining.

But you can get rid of those miserable knots in your upper back naturally. 🙂


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14 Comments on What Causes Those Miserable Knots and Muscle Spasms In Your Upper Back

  1. Nadia says:

    Wow that’s interesting. I was wondering I’m 17 and I get these knots along my shoulder blade at least once a month. Is It common for like teens to get this?

  2. Hi Nadia,

    Thank you for writing! It’s more common than ever for teens to get knots in their backs.

    Why? Mostly it’s because of posture and lifestyle. The people who are very active and whose bodies have the most ‘muscular balance’ have the fewest complaints.

    People who spend a lot of time sitting tend to get knots in their backs. The muscles get overstretched and are often weaker than the muscles in the front of their bodies. That makes the muscles in back unhappy and they get a specialized type of muscle spasm or knot.

    You can keep your back stronger by squeezing your shoulder blades together and watch how you sit or stand. Slouching makes those back muscles around the shoulder blade knot up.

    Hope this helps!
    The Pain Relief Coach

  3. Mandi says:

    I have been having muscle spasms for 4 months and they have been getting worse. I cant even go for short walks because my back goes into spasm and I cant get home!!! I work in a bottleshop and do alot of heavy lifting. I am now on work cover but still have to go to work with restrictions. Im not allowed to lift anything over 5 kilos, no stretching in front, no bottom shelf work no top shelf work.It makes it really hard! What would be the best way be to get my body back into working order again?

  4. Alexis says:

    That makes sense. I have been playing baseball or softball my entire life and I am about to be 16. But for the past few years I have had back problems but this past year(softball season) I have been having upper back spasms and even though I rested it after the season and then started playing again the spasms and knots still continued. I have gone to doctors and done the stretches but none of it helps. The spasms and knots are to the point where it is getting almost impossible to pitch and play.

  5. Hello Mandi,

    Is it your lower back that goes into spasm? There are muscles next to your spine in back but there are also muscles that attach from your thigh bones and hip bones to your spine. They are called the iliopsoas muscles and they can cause lower back pain, too.

    Do you have a large curve in your lower back so that your tummy is pushed forward? Do you have a large tummy? Or do you have a flat lower back without a curve at all? Those answers will provide clues to the cause of your pain.

    You can use a tennis ball or two to roll along the muscles next to your spine. That will help if those muscles are the problem. If you can, do this on the floor. Just place the tennis balls (or similar balls) on the floor and under your most tender spot. Just lay on the ball or balls for about 5 minutes. You will probably notice that you don’t notice the balls much anymore. That is because your muscles are relaxing.

    You can also use the balls to press into your gluteal (buttock) muscles. If they are also tender, that means they are tight and massaging with the balls will help them to relax, too.

    If it is your iliopsoas muscles, you can best help them by stretching in a way so that your leg moves behind your body. The idea is to stretch the front of your thigh and make those muscles from knee to spine longer.

    The best plan would be to get all of your muscles balanced so that they can all work together well. You can usually do this most easily by stretching the muscles that are in front of your body and strengthening the muscles that are on the backside. There are directions in the articles at http://SimpleStrengthening.com to help you do that.

    If you can, please find a trigger point book. There are self-help books about trigger points. The ones by Claire Davies are very good. Trigger points are places in muscles that cause pain in other areas. When they are released, the muscles can again function properly and regain their strength and pain goes away.

    I hope this helps and wish you the best. Keep reading the articles on this website and at http://SimplePainRelief.com I believe you can get rid of the muscle spasms in your back by taking action.

    Kathryn Merrow
    The Pain Relief Coach

  6. Jill says:

    My shoulder muscles make a crunching noise when I roll them. It doesn’t hurt but I wonder what it is. I have severe knots along my shoulder blades that a massage therapist is working on, and upper back muscle spasms (between shoulder blade area) that are not happening as often but painful when they do. I’m starting to do exercises to strengthen my upper back muscles and trying to notice and adjust the way I sit and walk. Thank you for all the great ideas on your website that I just found!

  7. Hi Jill,

    Thank you for writing and you are welcome! I’m glad you find the ideas helpful. 🙂

    There are several muscles around the shoulder that will cause the crunching sound you describe without pain. That is an indication there is at least one tight muscle. Your massage therapist may find that by working deeply and specifically on various muscles (like supraspinatis) she may be able to get rid of your ‘click.’ If she has access to the Travell Trigger Point Manuals, she will find more shoulder muscles that can cause clicking there, too. I was surprised at the number of muscles around the shoulder that cause painless clicking.

    Also please be sure to ask your therapist to release your pec minor and major muscles because that will help get rid of your upper back muscle spasms.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  8. Ann Hamilton says:

    I had a very painful left shoulder blade it lasted about 5 days then it went into my neck I visited a chiropractor and he told me it was torticollis, then a few days later the pain went to my right shoulder blade it is total agony any help would be appreciated thanks

  9. Dear Ann,

    Torticollis means there is a shortening or tightening of muscles. Muscles move bones. Muscles pull on bones. Muscles can also pinch nerves. Muscles in spasm are uncomfortable!

    Either your neck/shoulder muscles became irritated by some position or movement and went into spasm on their own or nerves were aggravated and caused the muscles to spasm.

    Your neck and then your second shoulder went into spasm most likely because the muscles from the left side were pulling on it and annoying it. Everything is attached so when one area gets tight or spasms it pulls on other areas.

    Ice or cold therapy would be a good choice for your painful areas because ice is the drug of choice for nerve pain. But whether nerves are involved or not, cold therapy is good for tight muscles.

    Rolling your shoulders up and back, up and back can help loosen or relax the muscles in the area of the shoulder blades. Squeezing your shoulders toward your spine may help, too.

    I wonder whether the chiropractic adjustment helped or whether he or she did one?

    There are a lot of muscles around your shoulder blades. If you have rounded forward shoulders or hold your head forward, that may be a good part of this spasm. Do you work with your hands in front of you? Do you sleep on your side?

    If you can figure out what may have caused the initial shoulder blade pain (a sneeze or sudden movement?) it will help you understand what not to do.

    So, I’d go with cold therapy (a bag of frozen peas works in a pinch or you can fill zip lock bags 1/2 way full of rubbing alcohol and water and freeze them into slush.)

    I would also consider massage but look for a skilled therapist who can gauge appropriate pressure–not too deep right off the bat and not too light.

    I hope these ideas will help you get rid of that pain in your neck and shoulder blades.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  10. Ann, I would also do lots of tiny little movements to help get things loosened up. The movements should be very small. It’s mostly to give the muscles the idea that they can relax and feel better. Small movements will help improve the circulation in the tight muscles.

    Ice numbs painful areas as well as helps reduce swelling. Cold packs stay on for 20 minutes, take a break for 20 minutes and repeat. I don’t follow the rules really closely because at home the cold pack starts to warm a bit over that time. Use a thin cloth between you and the ice so you don’t freeze your skin.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  11. Hi again, Ann,

    I looked into information regarding torticollis from the National Institutes of Health which is a government agency just to see what they say. They mention massage but only in passing.
    They suggest heat and stretching.


    I suspect you have already been using heat? If you use heat or cold and feel slightly worse afterward that means it was the wrong therapy for you.

    I am also unsure of the diagnosis. Lots of times doctors or chiropractors give names to things which are just muscles in spasm. (Remember: I’m not a doctor.)

    Your pain started lower and moved up to your neck. Seems to me like a chain reaction is going on. Muscles are like that. 🙂

    I hope this helps you get rid of the pain in your neck and shoulder blades.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  12. Ok, Ann. I’m back again.

    While stretching is good, muscles that are in spasm cannot stretch. The first step is to help them relax. Naturally this involves massage to warm the muscles and the surrounding areas. Massage is the best medicine for muscle spasms.

    The Pain Relief Coach

  13. Jeff says:

    Thanks for the tips here. I was looking for some help.

    I am 59 and work out ALOT…running, biking, and some weight lifting. At my age, I spend considerable time warming up and stretching. 😉 I have a muscle knot very deep next to my shoulder blade that never seems to totally go away. Stretching does not seem to “reach it”. I had a masseuse dig in about 6 months ago which helped alot. I thought the problem was solved. But just sitting quietly in my office a month ago, and for no apparent reason, the muscle spasmed and my entire upper back locked up for almost a week. The problem just won’t go away. I now use occasional heat and press the spot against a tennis ball while sitting in my office chair.

    Any other tips and advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

  14. Hi Jeff,

    Pain next to your shoulder blade? On the spine side? On your dominant side?

    Right now my best long distance guess is that it’s not where it hurts. I’m thinking your rib muscles below the outer lower edge of your shoulder blade and running toward your chest are causing your muscle spasm.

    When you were just sitting quietly were you leaning on one elbow or to one side?

    When a problem like this won’t go away, that usually means it’s not where you feel it. That’s just the symptom. The cause is elsewhere. In this case, I’m thinking it’s those rib muscles. They are called serratus anterior.

    Try massaging those rib muscles and look for tender areas. Hold the tender areas until they feel as though they are getting less tender (12 seconds or so.) Search all around for more tender muscles in the ribs. You may have to ask someone to help you find them if you can’t quite reach them all.

    If I’m right about this, when you get rid of the tightness in your serratus anterior muscles, you will get rid of that muscle knot next to your shoulder blade.

    The Pain Relief Coach