Anatomy of Muscle Knots and How to get rid of them
Knots are very irritated spots in muscle or fascia which professionals refer to as myofascial trigger points (MTP). If the MPT is active it may cause a lot of pain in the body. Sometimes MPT’s are quiet or hidden and you only feel pain if you press right on them. Common areas of the body where knots develop are neck & shoulders, lower back, outside of the thigh (where IT band is located), calves and shins.
Muscle tissuewhen healthy is pliable and strong. Muscles are layered throughout the body allowing us to bend and move in all directions. Muscles are comprised of muscle fibers designed to move in a certain direction when we use them. When we don’t move enough, the fibers start to stick together and become adhered. A knot starts to form.
Fascia is densely woven connective tissue located throughout the body and sort of “holds us together”. Fascia supports and surrounds bodily structures and provides stability as well as a cohesive direction for the line of pull for muscles. Healthy fascia is relaxed and wavy and has the ability to stretch and move without restriction.
Both of these tissues can get knotted up and boy, do we feel it! Trauma, scarring or inflammation will also cause the muscles and fascia to tighten up and the result is shortening of the muscle tissue. The function of that muscle is now compromised and other damage will follow.
Common causes of knots are dehydration, poor posture, lack of exercise and stress to the muscles, e.g. over-use or maintaining the same position for long periods of time.
Best preventive measures are:
Exercise –the body is designed to move so “use it or lose it”
Take stretch breaks. Gentle movement based stretches are recommended. Some examples are: slowly rotating the head in both directions, swing arms and legs slowly, rotate your ankles in both directions, shoulder shrugs…
Best treatment for knots you already have:
Exercise correctly and foam roll (myofascial release) regularly. Foam rolling and self myofascial release will improve circulation to the sore muscles. Check out the foam rolling movements on my website.
Therapeutic massage will also help keep muscles healthy, pliable and oxygenated.
For chronic pain which does not get better, seek help from a physical therapist.