Exercises & StretchesHealth and Disease information

10 Best Trigger Point & Muscle Knot Stretches – Ask Doctor Jo

Hey everybody it’s Doctor Jo, and today I’m going to show you the 10 best ways to get rid of knots in your neck, upper back, and traps, and I’m going to use Sr. Musclestein to help me out with that. So let’s get started. So these top 10 best ways are my favorite ways. They’re the ways that I found helped out my patients, have helped out myself. There’s no research base to it, it’s just what I found works for me and the people that I use them on. So the first one is going to be a shoulder squeeze, and so you can see here when you do a shoulder squeeze, it works those rhomboid muscles, and it works that upper trap there, and that’s where we have a lot of those knots. Sometimes they hold it here where that levator comes down all through here, and sometimes even here in those rhomboids, so the shoulder squeeze is a really good way to kind of work those muscles and get those knots out. The big thing to know about the shoulder squeeze is to make sure your shoulders go downward ,so you’re not hunting them up, but you’re going down.

So let’s take a look at that exercise. For shoulder squeezes, you’re going to keep your elbows by your side and imagine that somebody has their hand on your spine, and you’re trying to squeeze it. So exercise number two is going to be chin tucks. Chin tucks are my favorite, I really like them to help with posture to help kind of reset those muscles.

If you’re working on a computer a lot, you get those knots, chin tucks are a really simple and easy way to help get rid of those, so when you’re doing the chin tuck, what you’re doing is you’re working the front muscles and the back muscles here that end up getting over stretched because you’re leaning forward so much. So these get over stretched, these in the back get over stretched, so a simple chin tuck is really going to help release those knots that are in there and reset those muscles to help them work how they’re supposed to. So let’s take a look. For chin tucks in sitting, you’re going to actually move your chin back. It’s not tucking it forward. So place your finger on your chin and leave your finger in one spot, and then tuck it in, and hold it. Number three is a neck rotation using a towel to stretch it out, and the reason it’s so great to use a towel, some people call them snags, is because when you put the towel around your neck and then stretch, what the towel does is it helps kind of steady each vertebrae.

So if you have some tightness in there, it stops it here to allow movement up here, so you can move the different segments at a time which is really really cool because if you have some spots like the facet joints that are stuck a little bit, this helps loosen them up because when they’re stuck those muscles get really tight and you get those knots.

So this is a really great way to help loosen up those muscles, so let’s take a look. For a neck rotation stretch with a towel, take the towel and put it behind your neck. Grab one side to anchor it down and keep it there, then take the opposite hand put the towel up over your chin across your ear, and you’re going to pull upwards and a way when you rotate your neck to the side. Exercise number four is snow angels on the floor. You can also do them on the wall, but I like doing them on the floor because you can kind of help gravity get you down to the floor. The important part of the snow angels is to keep everything on the ground or on the wall. Some people think they’re super easy, they look kind of easy, but if your shoulders are coming up, if your arms are coming up when you’re lifting, you’re not really doing the exercise correctly, so it kind of incorporates the shoulder squeezes or the scapular squeezes while you’re laying down, but now you’re moving your arms to make it more of a dynamic movement as well.

So let’s take a look. For snow angels, lie on your back and bend your knees up. Push your stomach towards the ground so your back is nice and flat, and try and keep it that way. Then bend your elbows up and put your arms flat on the ground. If your elbows start coming up, then keep them down as much as you can. Slide your arms up and then come back down. Number five, so with trigger points, those knots, when you have that muscle kind of balled up and really tight, you can use a ball to help relax that, and so using a ball like a lacrosse ball a tennis ball, you can use something even a little bit smaller or lighter just to kind of get to that specific spot. So those balls really go in if you’ve got a trigger point, and you can feel it, you know it’s that one spot, you can use that ball to help release that knot in there. So let’s take a look at that. For a trigger point release on the neck with a ball, place the ball right on the trigger point on a firm surface and then relax onto the ball.

Number six. So if the ball is maybe a little bit too much, or maybe your knot’s a little more general versus specific, you can use a foam roll. Foam rolls are a great way to really get those knots out, to really work on those trigger points, and even though a lot of times people use them on their legs and their backs, you can actually use it on your neck, too. You can even just lay on it in a vertical way or horizontal way to really stretch out those muscles to get those knots out of that upper back and that neck area. So let’s take a look at that. For a trigger point release on the neck with a foam roll, place the roll on a firm surface and lie down where the trigger point is on your neck.

Push down into the foam roll. Number seven, the cat dog. Some people call it the cat cow, I think it depends on what you’re using it in, if you’re using a yoga, if you’re using it in therapy, or if you’re just using it for animal lovers depending on what animals they love the most, but I love dogs and cats and so we’ll call it the cat dog. The reason the cat dog is so good, is because it really helps arch your back up and then pull it back down, and so it’s really getting those muscles moving, you’re adding your neck into that movement, so it’s stretching out those those upper muscles in the neck, in the back area ,and really if you’ve got those knots in there that’s really just going to help move those to get it all out. So let’s take a look at that one. For the cat dog stretch, get on all fours. You’re going to arch your back like a cat and tuck your chin in, and then drop your back down and pick your head up so in, out.

Number eight, the prayer stretch or some people call it the Child’s Pose. This one I like the best when you go side to side or angles, and the reason for that is because when you have those, not especially up high, if you go angles that really help stretch those muscles in a different way versus just going straight down, and it does a good job of, you’re able to hold that pose, you’re able to relax take some nice deep breaths, and it helps let those knots go, getting those trigger points out of there and so I really really like this one, too. So let’s check it out. For the prayer stretch side to side, start off sitting on your feet and then slide your arms out at an angle, holding the stretch. Number nine. So this is one of my favorite stretches, I saved the stretches for last because after you work those muscles out, you want to stretch them back out and really get those knots out. So an upper trap stretch is going to be really good for getting those knots out of those traps, so as you can see here, the upper trap muscle comes all the way up in the neck and comes down like a triangle or a trapezoid, that’s why it’s called a trapezius muscle, and so when you’re stretching out these muscles here, for that upper trap stretch, it does a really really good job of getting those knots out.

Make sure that you’re holding those stretches for at least 30 seconds because that’s what’s going to help let it go and it does a really really good job there. So let’s check that one out. For an upper trap stretch, take the arms of the side that you want to stretch and either push it downwards or sit on it to hold that shoulder down. Then take the other hand on the side and just pull it over towards your shoulder holding that stretch. Number ten. The last stretch, and the stretch I use almost every day is the levator SCAP stretch, and the levator scapulae is one of those muscles that is notorious for getting knots in there.

It’s the muscle that’s attached to your shoulder blade, or your scapula, and it goes all the way up into the neck. So levator scapulae, it elevates that scapula or that shoulder blade, and the reason it gets knots so often is because when we’re doing stuff, and we’re on a computer, when we get stressed out ,we tend to hunched up our shoulders and that overworks that muscle and then it gets lots of knots in it, and it can be very painful because especially since it’s attached to that shoulder blade, there’s so many muscles attached that shoulder blades, if something’s not working properly, it effects the whole thing. So you can have those knots, and then it causes pain in the neck, in the back, and the shoulder, and sometimes even down into the arm. So number 10 is probably my favorite stretch of all time.

So let’s take a look at it. For a levator scapulae stretch, the side that you want to stretch, you’re going to take your arm and put it up over your shoulder and that’s to stabilize that scapula. Then you’re going to take your head down towards an angle almost like you’re looking towards the opposite knee. Take your other hand and put it behind your head and give it a little extra stretch.

So there you have it, those were my top 10 best stretches and exercises to get rid of those knots in the neck, the upper trap area, the upper back. They’re again my favorites, they’re not any research-based thing it’s just this what I found works for me, and the reason that those work so well is because all those muscles in that neck area work the neck, work the shoulders, and that upper back, and that’s where we hold a lot of our stress.

So that’s how those knots form, when we’re hunched up, when we’re over working those muscles and they’re not working how they’re supposed to. So sometimes just getting them stretched out, or putting some pressure on those trigger points helps relax those knots and it makes it a whole lot more comfortable once you get those released because once they’re released, then those muscles kind of go back into the position they’re supposed to and everything starts working again. So if you have any questions, leave in the comment section, and if you’d like to help support my channel, click up here, and don’t forget to subscribe by clicking down here. And remember, be safe, have fun, and I hope you feel better soon..

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