A knot in the upper back happens when muscles constrict forcefully at a certain point. The pain associated with these knots can range from mild to severe. The way to reduce knots is by lengthening the upper-back muscles with subtle exercises and stretches. The trapezius is the main muscle you want to focus on. It is located right under the neck, and it flares out to the sides of the upper back.
Sit or stand with your feet together to do a side-bend stretch. Look straight ahead and place your left hand on the right, top side of your head. Keep your shoulders down and your lower body still as you gently pull your head laterally toward your left shoulder. Turn your head gradually as you do this and look down toward your left side. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Lightly release and repeat on your right side.
Reach up and grab a pull-up bar to stretch your upper back. Grasp the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Bend your knees and cross your lower legs. Let your body hang from the bar for 20 to 30 seconds; slowly lower yourself back down.
Sit comfortably in a chair and do shoulder shrugs. Keep your gaze fixed forward, let your arms hang straight down at your sides and raise your shoulders in the air as high as possible. Hold for a full second, slowly lower them back down and repeat 12 to 15 times. Do not round your shoulders or bend your elbows throughout.
Lie on your back to work out the knot with a foam roller. Place your shoulders perpendicular across the foam roller. Bend your knees and flatten your feet on the floor. Tighten your core so that you have a straight line from your hips to your shoulders. Roll your back across the roller slowly until you find a knot in your back. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds, then roll back and forth slightly until you find another area of tightness. Hold again for 20 to 30 seconds. Continue this process until you've loosened up your whole upper-back area. Do not roll your neck across the foam roller, as this will place too much stress on your vertebra.
Perform a downward-facing dog yoga pose. Lie on your stomach with your hands shoulder-width apart and feet hip-width apart. Push yourself off the floor and straighten your arms. Raise your hips in the air and push your weight back onto your heels. Try to get your feet flat on the floor when you do this. Keep your back, legs and arms straight as you rotate your shoulder blades inward. Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds and slowly release.