Friday, December 26, 2008

Shoulder Blade Pain--When the Knots in Your Upper Back Won't Relax?

People often ask me if I can help them get rid of the knots between their spine and shoulder blades. I explain why they have knots in their upper back and why they are having pain. And, I also explain why the therapies they have tried did not work or didn't work for very long.

If you have had deep tissue massage or other treatments that didn't get rid of your shoulder-blade-to-spine pain, it's because the treatment did not address the cause of your pain. The massage therapist or doctor was working on your symptom rather than the actual cause of your pain. This is a very common occurrence as therapists and doctors often don't understand exactly why someone is having pain.

Here is some background. Each of your muscles attaches to at least two bones. This is what allows us to move. If a muscle is pulling on one side of a bone because it is short and tight, then the muscles that attach to the other sides of the bone will also be pulled on (they will get stretched.)

The muscles that are being stretched will start to complain. And, they will develop "knots." The knots are their way of getting your attention. Your muscles are calling to you.

Actually, your muscles may be screaming at you.

Those stretched muscles are called "taut." Taut is different from "tight." Taut muscles cannot relax on their own. Taut muscles need the muscles around them that are pulling on them to be relaxed, or released, before they can relax.

So, if you have had massage or other therapies that did not relieve your painful back spasms or knots, now you know why.

What are some things you can do yourself to get rid of those knots?

1. Have a therapeutic massage. Ask the massage therapist if he or she will be able to work on the muscles that are around your knot (which are the probable cause of your knot) to release them before massaging the knot itself.

2. A good massage therapist will also be able to figure out whether your shoulder blade knot is being caused by tight muscles in your neck. Those muscles are called the scalenes and they can cause knots in your back near your shoulder blades.

3. Strengthen your back from the base of your head to the back of your thighs. This will help prevent the painful back knots from happening in the first place. It will help normalize your muscles. See the helpful articles at

4. Try "tennis ball therapy." Lie down on the floor with a tennis ball under the "knot." Just lie still for 5 minutes. The tennis ball will aggravate the knot and get more blood flowing to that area. This will often help release your knot.

5. Squeeze your shoulder blades toward your spine. This helps strengthen your back muscles and stretches the too-tight muscles that caused your knot in the first place.
A person who is well-educated about the cause of their pain or dysfunction is more likely to get better than someone who simply puts their care into the hands of another person. You can get lots more 'education' at I have many more natural back pain relief articles there.

And I'm glad you are becoming that well-educated person so you can get rid of those shoulder blade knots.