How to “Pop” a Muscle Knot in Your Back

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How to Get Rid of or “Pop” a Muscle Knot in Your Back

In this blog, we’re going to focus on simple things you can do to get rid of those painful muscle knots that you may find on your low back, mid-back and neck. Many of these pain relieving treatments below can give you relief in as little as 30 seconds.

But first, what causes muscle knot? They are tight points that can develop on your muscles if they have been overworked or overtaxed. 

Muscle knots are mainly caused by:

  • Injuring your muscles
  • Repetitive motions that cause a muscle to become irritated
  • Employing poor posture habits
  • Holding a muscle in an awkward position for loo long like driving or sitting for a long time without taking a break.
  • Dehydration.

What does a knot in a muscle feel like?

Muscle knots can occur anywhere on your back (or in your extremities) and will usually feel swollen, tight, contracted, or look like a ball.

So how do you get rid of it?

The first step to getting rid of a muscle knot is to reduce the tension in the knotted tissue and calm the irritated nerves down.

Tips to avoid dehydration courtesy of INNOVA Integrated Wellness Centre. (Read the caption)

The following things below can do this:

Rest – The first thing you can try is just to rest. Avoid doing any activities that caused the knot. For example if you find sitting for 30 minutes brings on those painful knots, then try to avoid sitting for periods greater than that time. Many times, just resting your body from aggravating activities is enough to break up the knot to give you relief.

Stretching –  If the muscle knot is caused by being in an uncomfortable position for a long time, stretching can help. It can help loosen up the muscles and reduce the tension in the knot.

Trigger Point Massage – During this type of massage a therapist will begin to apply pressure and stretch the muscle knot to release (a.k.a pop) it. You may experience minor discomfort, but long-term relief during this technique. You can even do a similar trigger point massage yourself that has shown to be very effective for muscle knots. Simply place two fingers on your muscle knot and put pressure on it. Then hold for 10 seconds and release. You can do this a couple of times. Many will notice significant relief from this technique.

Dry Needling – This is another effective way to relieve muscle knots. This is done by Physiotherapists using very thin needles to stimulate the muscle. This stimulation allows the muscle to release.

Use a tennis ball. Lie on the ground with a tennis ball placed under your back on the muscle knot. Then roll it on the knot until it releases.

Once you’ve gotten rid of your muscle knot the next step is to keep it from coming back.

Benefits of dry needling courtesy of Aurora Sports Medicine Professionals. (Read the caption)

Here are 4 ways to prevent muscle knots

1.) If you sit throughout your day, make it a goal to stand up every 30 minutes, walk around, and stretch for a minute or so. This will reduce the cumulative amount of stress on your neck, mid-back and low back.

2.) Exercise – regular exercise is a great way to keep muscle knots at bay. It doesn’t have to be intense either! Just simple walking and stretching will help. Exercise increases tolerance levels of your muscles, which lets them withstand load more efficiently. This can prevent muscle knots from developing.

3.) Maintain Good Posture Habits. Maintaining a slumped, bent-over posture for long periods of time puts stress on your muscles which can lead to muscle knots. Trying to maintain different postures throughout the day can reduce strain on your spine.

4.) See a Chiropractor. Not only have Chiropractors shown to be effective at relieving muscle knots, but they are also at preventing them.

To find a top chiropractor near you just use the search box on this page.

Canada’s largest network of physiotherapists, chiropractors, and registered massage therapists.


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, sometimes they do go away on their own with rest. However, even if you think the knot has disappeared it can re-appear if you employ poor posture habits and avoid regular exercise.

You can loosen it by pressing down firmly and holding for 10 seconds. Then release.  You can also use a foam roller to reduce the tension of the knot.

Muscle knots can feel “crunchy” when toxins start to build up inside of the knot. Then they start to solidify. A massage can help release these toxins and the knot.

About Taylor Sipos

Taylor is a physiotherapist at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic located in Toronto, Ontario. He treats patients with various musculoskeletal conditions using patient education, exercise therapy, manual therapy and acupuncture. His treatment philosophy involves giving his patient’s the means to self-manage their injuries. He does this through reassurance, education and health promotion. Taylor uses the same principles as a patient educator at Pain Hero. He aims to provide you with high-quality, easy to understand information to teach you about your condition and how to improve it.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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