Believe it or not there is relief for that irritating, painful hard muscle knot between your shoulder blades!
More specifically that intense, chronic contraction of part of the rhomboids (major and minor) or trapezius muscles.
The muscle knot started out as a sort of “catch” in the muscle. I tried to get rid of it by twisting my back, stretching and pushing on it with my fingers. I knew that my self-adjustments or “crack” to my back would put into the right position and I would have instant relief. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
Weeks later I rolled on tennis balls, did the same with golf balls and leaned against wall corners to put pressure on the knot. The pain only intensified.
More to try
Months into the continuous, dull pain I tried more homemade techniques. I had people dig their knuckles and thumbs into the spot. Friends would stand up and walk on my back digging their heels into the knot. There was relief, but it was fleeting. It seemed like hours later that this had only angered the knot. It would be worse—much worse.
I did the Advil technique—four Advils every four hours for a couple of weeks. This had no effect. I wouldn’t advise anyone to try this. Advil is harmful to your liver if taken long term, but that’s for another blog.
Years into it
I’m not one to go to the doctor for anything, but this knot was ridiculous. I felt like my ribs were being pulled into my lungs. I would take a deep breath and could feel my ribs with small relief.
I scheduled an appointment to see a sports doctor. He checked it out. “Yep” it’s probably a rib-head issue. He took me and twisted me in different ways that seem like it would “pop” the heads back into place. ‘Thank goodness for resolve to this issue’. I thought to myself….but no. I went home and the pain continued. I scheduled another appointment and was back several weeks later.
They did x-rays, found nothing and eventually gave me three injections in different muscles. I’m not sure exactly where the injections were but I believe they were in the trapezius and rhomboids muscles. This was three days of pure ecstasy. I was pain-free.
Then… the pain came back.
More of the same
More advice from well intentioned people some said it was posture and certain workouts. I stopped and started certain workouts. I sat up straight and made sure I didn’t slump.
I visited several massage therapists and told them of my plight. They said it was spasms, scar tissue and fluid buildup. Ice it, heat it, leave it alone. They tried different massage techniques including Deep tissue, Swedish and a variation of Rolfing but nothing assuaged the pain.
Between 4 and 8 years with this chronic pain, I had seen three different chiropractors and other specialist in the field of medicine. I had them adjust, prod, shock and prescribe everything under the sun. One chiropractor mixed in “energy” water with her therapy while another would put weights on my head and let it hang there for 20 or 30 minutes. Believe me I wanted something to work.
I resorted to something that I never thought I would try. Not because I don’t believe in it but because I have this overwhelming feeling whenever I have to sit still. It makes me want to pass out. This feeling is similar to scraping your fingers across a chalk board multiplied by 100. But, I wanted to try.
The acupuncturist pushed in countless needless all throughout my back. She wanted to stick some in my toes and ankles but I vetoed that idea before she fully finished suggesting that. She left them in there for what seemed like days. Probably it was under 20 minutes. This had no effect, expect for the tiny little holes in my back and lower neck area.
Then a breakthrough
It was during one of my workouts that I decided to add back in back extensions. These are good for the gluteus maximus, erector spinae and a host of other muscles in the lower back. It had been years since I had done these. Hours later my back adjusted slightly and I felt relief in that knot. Somehow, someway working out those muscles either stretched out a muscle or weakened a muscle enough to release its hold on the knot.
***NOTE: ONLY TRY THESE EXERCISES IF YOU HAVE NO BACK PROBLEMS. IN FACT, ONLY TRY THIS IF YOU HAVE NO OTHER BACK ISSUES. THIS IS STRICTLY WHAT HAS WORKED FOR ME.
It’s quite easy to keep pain free. I just kept up with the back extension exercise. I do it about three times a week. If for whatever reason I skip the exercise then the muscle knot seems like it wants to rear its ugly head.
The pictures will show the various back extension exercises that you can perform to help relieve the pain of the knot. There is a second benefit to the exercise—actually the primary benefit to those not afflicted with “the knot”. This exercise is extremely beneficial to the lower back muscles and gluteus.
You should start out using no weights and work yourself up to about 3 sets of 25 reps. Once you have that down, add 10 pounds. It can be a medicine ball or just a plate. With the added weight drop your reps down to between 15 to 20. Continue to increase your weight. Since I’m a guy I use a 35 pound plate.
The end of the exercise should make it difficult to walk, that is a fleeting feeling. Don’t worry, relax and feel the benefits!
Go to Part 2 and add to the list of techniques that don’t work. Help save some out there that might take the wrong advice.