Almost everyone has experienced painful knots in their muscles atsome point in their lives.
In therapy we call these painful muscle knots Myofascial Knots or Trigger Points. They are both the same thing. Sometimes they come on briefly and then go away.
Other times they become more chronic and lead to a condition know as Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS).
If you suffer from muscle knots or have had them in the past, they can be quite irritating and painful.
What Are Myofascial Knots/Trigger Points?
Myofascial Knots, a.k.a Trigger Points, are still somewhat of a debate as to what causes them in Western Medicine.
However, it’s well agreed that you can detect them by rolling your fingers or thumb over the tender muscle and feel a hard like mass or ball within that muscle. As you press down or apply pressure over this area you will feel increased pain in that specific area.
It is also well recognized that Myofascial Knots (Trigger Points) can radiate pain into other areas of the body and into other trigger points. And that these Trigger Points can actually be mapped out on the body consistently from person to person.
Coincidentally, Trigger Point maps coincide with Acupressure Points. When you understand the roll of connective tissue (discussed below), you’ll see that this makes complete sense as to why this occurs.
As a therapist who has studied and performed Myofascial Release Techniques, I have found that the most common cause of Myofascial Pain is a disruption in the flow of connective tissue around muscles and this can occur for a number of reasons.
Causes of Myofascial Knots – A Combination of..
Stress: Stress seems to be a predominant factor with most everyone who suffers from muscle knots.
Muscles knots can be dormant, or inactive, and with increased stress can become active, meaning they become painful and sensitive to touch.
As our stress levels increase you’ll notice your pain levels and sensitivity to these muscle knots also increases.
Strain or Injury to muscles, tendons, or ligaments: When we injure muscles, tendons, or ligaments we create micro-tears within the muscles, tendon’s, or ligaments. As we heal, we form scar adhesion that then can disrupt the connective tissue system within the injured area.
This disruption in the connective tissue can lead to a tightening of the effected muscle causing a myofascial knot.
Muscle Use: After prolonged muscle disuse, as seen in people who have suffered a stroke, a person can experience muscle knots.
Once the person regains some muscle function and control in the affected side of the stroke, they tend to develop muscle knots as they start to use their muscles again.
Excess Calcium: Another theory of why we get muscle knots is that as muscles contract, they can leave deposits of excessive calcium within the neural connection of the muscle, thus irritating the muscle causing a myofascial knot. This is much more complicated than my simple explanation here and doesn’t have to do with your dietary calcium intake.
Dehydration & Toxins: Dehydration and excessive toxins in our body can disrupt the nutritional cycle of muscles causing an imbalance in muscle nutrition resulting in stress to that muscle which in turn can cause a muscle knot.
Posture: Our daily posture and the effects of gravity on our posture play, in my opinion, the greatest roll in where and why you get knots as well as how severe the knots can become.
Everyday the effects of gravity are pulling us forward and down in whatever postures we assume during our daily tasks.
By realizing this, we can see when our bodies are entering into a negative posture.
When we sit in a slumped position for example, our head is slumped forward (we call this the Turtle Head Posture), and our spine is rounded. When we assume this posture on a regular basis, we actually start to change the muscle, tendon and connective tissue length.
And here in lies many of our problems with knots and muscle imbalances.
The Key To Muscle Knots – Understand Connective Tissue
Connective Tissue is awesome, it’s the matrix of our bodies, the gummy glue that holds us together.
We think of your body’s form and strength comes from our bone structure and muscles, and this is a major part of our strength and structure as human beings, but it’s the tough connective tissue that winds around and within every muscle fiber, ligament, and tendon that keeps us upright.
Connective tissue has an incredible strength that holds our bodies together and because of the force that connective tissue has, when we look at our postures throughout our daily activities, we can begin to realize the damage and changes our bodies can go through over time.
How Do We Get Rid Of Muscle Knots?
Muscle knots can be alleviated through a combination of: massage techniques, hot and cold application, myofascial release techniques, active release techniques, stretching, improving our nutrition and hydration, and improving our awareness of our posture throughout our daily tasks.
As you can see there are a combination of factors that we can utilize to decrease the frequency and severity of getting muscle knots.
As I continue to develop this website, I will provide you with various techniques that you can use to decrease your muscle knot pain and improve your quality of your life and functional abilities.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or helpful suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave me a message below.