How Do You Get Rid of Knots in Neck? [Therapist & Self]

Do you know that muscle knots in your neck can give you problems far from your neck and shoulder?

Your daily life activities put a lot of tension and strain on your neck muscles as they move your head ultimately controlling what you see, what you hear, and most importantly your balance while you walk.

So knots or muscle imbalance in your neck not only causes pain in your neck but also affects other functions.

Here is a detailed overview of how these knots are formed, what problems they can cause, how to understand them, and how you can massage them to get rid of the pains and other symptoms.

Neck Muscle Knot Locations

  • Behind the ear
  • At the sides of the neck
  • In front of the neck just above the collar bone
  • In the thick roll of muscles at the angle midway between your neck and shoulder
  • Behind the shoulder, just above the shoulder blade
  • At the back of the neck, below the occiput, and above the shoulder blades

What are Knots in Your Neck? [Muscles Involved in Neck Knots]

Many muscles in your neck can get weak or short over time due to bad posture, but the most commonly affected are,

  • Sternocleidomastoid
  • Upper trapezius
  • Levator scapulae

Besides these muscles, you can also have tight knots in your deep neck muscles that are even harder to massage.

What Causes a Knot in Your Neck?

During your daily life, many or say all activities need you to position your head in a certain way. Since your neck muscles control your head movement and posture, they are under constant loading while you are working.

Here is a list of daily life activities that can be causing you neck knot problems,

  • Forward head or slouching posture while working on a computer screen or using the phone
  • Overstretching due to overhead tasks or accidents involving speed
  • Sleeping on your stomach
  • Sleeping on the side without a pillow
  • Reading or using your smartphone while sitting or lying in bed
  • Working with your head turned to one side for a long time
  • Holding your phone between ear and shoulder while on calls
  • Carrying a heavy backpack or purse hanging from the shoulder
  • Keeping your shoulder elevated or shrugged for a prolonged time

Knots in your neck muscles are not solely due to movements or activities involving your neck muscles.

If you have knots in your upper back or other parts of your spine, your neck muscles work excessively to compensate for the work of those muscles which put them under undue stress and tension.

Here are a few other problems that can also lead to muscle knots in your neck,

  • Excessive heavy breathing in asthmatic people
  • Chronic cough
  • Emotional stress
  • Keeping your muscles contracted all the time due to anxiety or fear

What Does a Muscle Knot Feel Like in Neck?

  • Headache in the front, back, top, and sides of your head
  • Pain at the back of your neck or on the side of your face
  • The pain sometimes resembles toothache or pain in the ear
  • Pain at the side of the jaw and in the temples
  • Pain a stiffness at the angle of the neck
  • Pain referred to the back of the shoulder and between the shoulder blades

Are Muscle Knots in Neck Harmful?

Surprisingly, knots in your neck muscles not only cause pain but also lead to other problems like,

  • Dizziness
  • Balance problem
  • Fainting without any other reason
  • Hearing loss, that is reversible if the knots are treated
  • Blurred vision or blurred vision
  • Redness in the eye, drooping of the eyelid, or teary eyes
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Sinus problems

Note: You can have these problems because of other apparent reasons like infection or a systemic illness for which you must get medical treatment, but other than that, if any tests or medical treatment does not justify your symptoms, then there is always a chance that tightness and knots in your neck muscles are the cause for these symptoms.

How Do You Get Rid of Knots in Your Neck?

A therapist can locate and release your muscle knots precisely by assessing your symptoms, pain pattern, and neck movements.

Here are the steps to locate and massage knots in the neck.

fastest way to get rid of a knot in your neck
  1. With the client in a sitting position, the therapist places one hand over the shoulder blade to stabilize the shoulder and moves the head in multiple directions with the other hand. This is important to identify which muscles are short or painful to stretch.
  2. For knots at the angle of the neck, the client is in a sitting position, and the therapist is standing behind the client or at the side.
  3. For the knot in the front part of the neck, the client is either sitting or laying straight with his neck flexed to the opposite side. And the therapist stands at the head end or at the side.
  4. The therapist palpated your neck muscles to locate the knots.
  5. The therapist holds the muscle roll between the fingers and thumb and massages it by rubbing it between the fingers and thumb by applying ischemic compression or direct pressure method.
  6. This technique can also be done while the client is lying on his stomach.
  7. If the knots are deeper, the client is asked to elevate the arm forward and the therapist elevates the shoulder blade with one hand and reaches his fingers deeper under the thick roll of muscle on the client’s shoulder to approach the deeper knots and massage them.
  8. For the knot at the back of the neck, the therapist asks the client to lie face down. The therapist palpates the knots and uses friction massage or direct pressure technique.

How To Release Muscle Knots in Neck At Home? [Self-Massage]

Self-massage is the best option if you have knots in your sternocleidomastoid muscles, that start at the back of your ear and end at your collarbone in front of your neck.

For massaging knots in your left side, follow these steps,

  1. Sit with your head turned towards the right side (as if you are looking to your right shoulder), this will protrude out your muscle bulk.
  2. Hold the muscle bulk with your right hand between your thumbs and fingers, and start massaging from your collarbone up until you reach the other end of the muscle at the back of your ear.
  3. Repeat the same process for the right side and massage each side for 2 minutes.

For massaging knots behind the shoulder or at the angle between the neck and shoulder, I recommend using a Theracane or massage ball.

  1. Feel the knot with your fingers, place the Thera care over the knots, and massage it by applying the direct pressure method.
  2. Or take a massage ball, and place it against a wall with your knots in contact with the ball.
  3. Move up, down, and in circular motions to massage the knots.

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