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  • Writer's pictureHannah Foster-Middleton

HOW DOES A MUSCLE KNOT FORM?

What Are Muscle Knots?

Knots occur in response to a spasm, causing muscle fibers or fascia to become tense. Knots are also   called trigger points. Trigger points are places of rigidness in body tissues known more popularly as “knots” or “nodules”. While they are primarily found in muscles (“myo-fascial” trigger points), these knots can also be found in tendons, fascia, periosteum (bone cover), and ligaments.

Muscle spasms (also called muscle cramps) occur when your muscle involuntarily and forcibly contracts uncontrollably and can't relax. Muscle spasms are normal and quite common. They can involve part or all of a muscle or several muscles in a group. You can get muscle spasms anywhere in your body.

The fascia is made up of sheets of connective tissue found below the skin. These tissues attach, stabilize, impart strength, separate muscles, and enclose different organs.

You will be aware of trigger points with certain movements that cause pain or may be “hidden” or latent. In the latter case, you only notice the issue when you rub or press down on the trigger point and feel pain.

Causes of Muscle Knots

Muscle spasms tend to stem from at least one of the following factors:

·         Repeatedly training one muscle group

·         Not changing your position for an extended period

·         Overuse, including repetitive motions or repeatedly lifting heavy objects

·         Poor posture

·         A sedentary lifestyle

·         Stress contributing to muscle tension

·         A muscle strain, tear, or bone injury

While little is known about how muscle knots affect the body, some researchers believe they can restrict blood flow or affect adjacent nerves, which may intensify your pain.

Common Locations

Although you can experience trigger points anywhere you have muscle or fascia, they are more likely to occur in the following areas:

·         Neck

·         Shoulders

·         Lower back

·         Calves

·         Shins

·         IT band located on the side of the thigh

 

Based on location, an active muscle knot may be contributing to:

·         Headaches

·         Neck and back pain

·         Rotator cuff pain

·         Hand pain

·         Arm pain

·         Carpal tunnel syndrome

·         Tennis elbow

 

Muscle knots can result in varying degrees of pain, soreness, tenderness, or tightness. These sensations may stem from lifestyle habits like poor posture, incorrect form, or repetitive motions.

In certain cases, muscle knots are a sign of myofascial pain syndrome, a chronic condition potentially related to overuse that causes pain to be referred to other parts of the body.

You may be referred to a physiotherapist for assistance if you're dealing with chronic muscle knots.

Treatment for Muscle Knots

If you have a muscle knot that won’t seem to go away, you can try the following:

·         Get in the habit of routinely stretching your muscles

·         Changing your exercise routine can prevent certain injury risks.

·         Take breaks throughout the day to get up and move

·         Regularly change positions as you sit, drive, or lie in bed

·         Alternate between ice and heat to manage the pain

·         Book a massage to try and work out the muscle knot

·         Apply pressure to the affected area throughout the day

 

If your condition has become chronic, you may be referred to a physiotherapist for more targeted stretching, exercises, and treatments:

·         Myofascial release therapy is a form of massage designed to release fascial tension

·         Dry needling, a type of acupuncture, can lessen pain and help break up the knot.

·         Ultrasound or transcutaneous electrical nerve (TENS) can help relax the muscles.

·         Polychromatic light therapy is very effective at healing and relaxing muscles.

·         Trigger point injections by a doctor can decrease pain affecting the musculoskeletal system and would work in conjunction with other physiotherapy modalities.

 

Do not allow muscle tension, knots, or trigger points to persist. They will limit the power and stability of that muscle, potentially harming overall body function. If your home treatments are not effective enough, seek professional help from a physiotherapist. 

 

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