How To Get Rid Of Muscle Knots in Your Neck, Traps, Shoulders, and Back

Have you ever felt like there's a tiny, painful bump in your muscle that just won't go away? If so, you may have experienced a muscle knot. Muscle knots are pesky, painful spots in your muscles that make it feel like you're carrying a bag of bricks on your shoulders. 

Living with muscle knots can be a daily struggle, as they can cause significant pain and discomfort, making it difficult to perform even simple tasks. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of muscle knots and relieve the pain they cause. 

This guide will provide an overview of muscle knots, the causes and symptoms of muscle knots, and the various treatment options available for treating them and reclaim your comfort.

However, if you need professional help dealing with your muscle knots, consider getting a massage therapy session at PRESS. We offer a range of massage techniques that can target and release muscle knots, relieving pain and discomfort. 

So, don't suffer in silence - book a session with us today and experience the benefits of a targeted massage therapy for your muscle knots! 

What Are Muscle Knots?

Before you start picturing tiny ropes tangled up in your muscles, let's break it down. Muscle knots, also known as adhesions, are small areas of muscle fiber that become stuck (adhered) to overlaying or underlaying structures, like other muscles or fascia. In a healthy muscle, these areas glide past each other nicely. Adhesions or knots form when they start to stick.. 

They can develop in any muscle but are commonly found in the neck, traps, shoulders, and back. 

Muscle knots

What Causes Muscle Knots?

There are several factors that contribute to the development of muscle knots, including: 


  1. Overuse Or Repetitive Strain
    This type of strain occurs when a muscle is used too often, too hard, or in an awkward position. It can be caused by activities such as running, weightlifting, or even sitting at a desk for long periods of time. 

    When a muscle is overused, it can become tight and weak, leading to a knot. Overuse can also cause the muscle to become inflamed, leading to further pain and discomfort.

    Signs of overuse include soreness or stiffness in the muscle, decreased range of motion, and fatigue. 

  2. Poor Posture 
    The most common causes of poor posture are sitting in front of a computer for long periods, hunching over a desk while studying or working, carrying a heavy object on one side of the body, and sleeping awkwardly.

    All of these can lead to muscle imbalances, which can cause the muscles to become tight and knotted. 

poor posture


  1. Dehydration And Lack Of Stretching
    Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water to function correctly. When dehydrated, the body cannot eliminate toxins and waste products efficiently, leading to muscle tension. Therefore, staying hydrated is important by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

    Stretching is also crucial for keeping muscles healthy and flexible. When muscles are not stretched regularly, they can become tight and tense, leading to the formation of knots. Regular stretching can help to loosen tight muscles, allowing them to relax and reduce the formation of knots. (1) 

Other common causes of muscle knots include: 

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Muscle injury
  • Stress and tension
  • Physical trauma
  • Poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies 

Symptoms Of Muscle Knots

These knots can cause a wide range of symptoms, from localized pain and stiffness to referred pain that travels to other areas of the body. 

So, what are the symptoms of muscle knots, and how can you identify them? Let's take a closer look.

Pain And Discomfort

Muscle knots can cause a variety of sensations, from a dull ache to sharp stabbing pain. The pain can be localized to a specific area or radiate to other body parts. 

The intensity of the pain can vary depending on the severity of the muscle knot. If the knot is severe, it can cause intense pain that can be difficult to manage. In some cases, the pain can be so intense that it can interfere with daily activities. 

In addition to pain, muscle knots can cause discomfort in the affected area. This can include a feeling of tightness as well as a feeling of tenderness or soreness. The discomfort can range from mild to severe and last for days or weeks.

Reduced Range Of Motion 

When a muscle knot is present, it can limit the range of motion of the affected area. A muscle knot in the neck can cause a limited range of motion in the neck, shoulders, and even arms. Similarly, a muscle knot in the back can cause a limited range of motion in the back, hips, and legs. 

Muscle Weakness

The muscle fibers tighten and contract when there is a knot in the muscle. This can cause the muscles to become weaker than they would typically be. This can lead to decreased strength and flexibility, making it difficult to perform everyday activities.

Tension Headaches

Muscle knots in the neck and shoulder muscles can cause tension headaches, which are characterized by a dull, achy pain that starts at the base of the skull and radiates to the forehead and temples. These headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several days, and the pain can range from mild to severe. 

Self-Treatment For Muscle Knots

Self-treatment for muscle knots is a great way to reduce pain and discomfort before seeking professional help. The most important thing to remember is to be gentle with yourself. You don't want to do anything that causes more pain or injury. 

Here are some tips on how to self-treat muscle knots:

Foam Rolling Techniques

Foam rolling involves using a foam roller to apply pressure to the affected area, which helps to release tension and restore mobility. Foam rolling can be done on both the neck and back and other areas where knots may form. 

To begin, place the foam roller on the floor and lie on top of it, positioning the area with the muscle knot directly on top. Slowly roll back and forth, applying as much pressure as you can handle. 

If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop and adjust the pressure. You can also try rolling in different directions or using a softer roller. 

Stretching Techniques

Stretching helps to increase flexibility, reduce tension, and improve blood flow to the affected area. It can also help to reduce the risk of further injury. See the two most common stretching types:

  1. Static Stretching
    This is the most common type of stretching. It involves holding a stretch for an extended period of time, usually between 15 and 30 seconds. This type of stretching helps to improve flexibility. 

  2. Dynamic Stretching
    This stretching involves moving through a range of motion in a controlled manner. It is often used to help reduce tension and increase blood flow to the affected area.

Heat And Cold Therapy

Heat and cold therapy is a safe and effective treatment of muscle knots. Heat therapy helps to relax the muscles and increase flexibility, while cold therapy helps to reduce swelling and pain. 

Heat therapy can be applied as a hot compress, warm bath, or heating pad. On the other hand, cold therapy can be applied as an ice pack or cold compress. 

When using either heat or cold therapy, it's important to wrap the affected area with a towel or cloth to protect the skin from direct contact with the hot or cold source. It is also essential to start with the lowest temperature setting and increase or decrease the temperature accordingly.

Professional Treatment For Muscle Knots

Sometimes you just have to let a professional take a look at it. Here are some treatments you can consider for muscle knots: 

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a form of hands-on treatment that involves applying pressure and manipulating the muscles to relieve tension and reduce pain. Massage therapists use various techniques to target the knots and break down muscle tension. They also provide advice on how to prevent future knots from forming. 

Let's explore some of the massage therapy techniques that can be used to treat muscle knots: 

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage used to treat muscle knots. This type of massage focuses on the muscles and uses long, gliding strokes to help relax the muscles and reduce tension. The pressure used in Swedish massage is generally light to medium. 

Deep Tissue Massage 

This type of massage uses deeper pressure than Swedish massage and targets specific areas of the body where muscle knots are present. It uses cross fiber friction, a technique to help break up adhesions in the muscle.

Trigger Point Massage

Trigger point massage focuses on specific points in the body where muscle knots are present. Trigger point massage uses pressure to target the trigger points in the body and can relieve pain and discomfort caused by muscle knots. 

Don't let muscle knots hold you back from living your best life - book a session with us today and experience the benefits of a therapeutic massage!

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy, or physiotherapy, involves treating and managing physical conditions, injuries, or disabilities using various massage therapy techniques, exercises, and other modalities. 

Physical therapists can help diagnose and treat muscle knots by using massage techniques such as myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and deep tissue massage to alleviate pain and tension. 


Chiropractors are licensed healthcare professionals specializing in diagnosing, treating, and preventing musculoskeletal disorders, particularly those affecting the spine. These professionals may use manual manipulation techniques like spinal adjustments to help alleviate muscle knots and associated pain. 


Muscle knot soreness can be relieved using over-the-counter pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (2) Your healthcare provider may also prescribe medications such as muscle relaxers.

To Sum it Up: 

The key to eliminating muscle knots is to identify the cause and treat it accordingly. While self-treatment methods such as foam rolling, stretching, and heat/cold therapy can provide relief, it is important to seek help from professionals like PRESS if the knots persist or are causing significant pain or discomfort. 

At PRESS, we offer a range of massage therapies, including Full Body, Back, Neck & Shoulders, Pregnancy, and Corporate Chair Massage, to help alleviate muscle knots and promote overall muscle health. 

Our team of skilled massage therapists can assess your condition and develop a 100% personalized treatment plan that addresses the root cause of your muscle knots. Plus, we offer a range of products to complement your treatment plan and help you maintain your muscle health at home. 

So, don't let knots hold you back from living your best life - book a session with us today and let our team help you achieve optimal muscle health and well-being!

If you want to explore other topics of interest, take a look at:


  1. Modares. (n.d.). Retrieved from 
  2. Desai, M. J., Saini, V., & Saini, S. (2013, June). Myofascial pain syndrome: A treatment review. Pain and therapy. Retrieved from
  3. Sjörs, A., Larsson, B., Dahlman, J., Falkmer, T., & Gerdle, B. (2009, June 7). Physiological responses to low-force work and psychosocial stress in women with chronic trapezius myalgia. BMC musculoskeletal disorders. Retrieved from


What do trapezius muscle knots feel like?

Trapezius muscle knots can cause pain and discomfort in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, burning sensation, which may radiate beyond the immediate area. You may also experience tightness and tension in the area.

How long does a muscle knot in the neck last? 

The duration of a muscle knot in the neck can vary depending on the cause and severity. In most cases, a Full Body or Back, Neck & Shoulders massage from PRESS can help alleviate the tension and pain caused by muscle knots in the neck in just a few days.

What causes tight trapezius muscles? 

Research suggests that tight trapezius muscles can be caused by a variety of factors, including poor posture, repetitive movements, and stress. (3) 

How do you tell if a lump is a muscle knot? 

Determining if a lump is a muscle knot can be challenging without a proper medical evaluation. However, muscle knots are usually located in the belly of a muscle or at its attachment point, feel like a small, hard lump or nodule, can be tender to the touch, and may cause localized pain or discomfort that can be worsened by pressure or movement. They may feel a little “crunchy” when you glide your fingers with some pressure across them.

Posted on Thu, Apr 27, 2023