What are muscle knots?
Everyone has, or will, experience a muscle knot somewhere in their lifetime. Muscle knots - medically termed myofascial trigger points - occur when muscle fibers or the band of tissue located underneath the fibers tense and tighten up. These knots are hard and can cause extreme pain. Even when your muscles are resting, they can still contract and become sensitive.
The trigger points that cause muscle knots are classified as active or latent. Active trigger points can produce intense pain without being touched. On the other hand, latent trigger points can create a dull aching sensation or tenderness and remain dormant until pressed or touched.
Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about muscle knots and advise on helpful treatment methods.
Where do muscle knots occur?
Muscle knots can develop anywhere in your body where muscle or tissue is present. The most common points include your:
- neck and shoulders
- lower back
- IT band area (outside of the leg from the hip to the knee)
- and shins.
What causes muscle knots?
Many things can cause your muscles to tense and tighten up. Below, the most common causes are highlighted.
Stress: You better believe that mental and emotional stress can have an impact on your body. Stress can cause your muscles to tense and trigger painful points.
Overuse of Muscles: Before you participate in heavy lifting or make repetitive motions without resting, consider that overusing your muscles can put a strain on them.
Injuries: If you break, strain, twist, or tear a muscle or tissue, it can lead to painful muscle knots.
Poor Posture: Poor posture is a prevalent cause of muscle knots and usually results from an inactive lifestyle.
Prolonged Sitting: People who work at a desk all day are prone to experience muscle knots. If you fall in this category, remember that it's wise to stand up and take short breaks from sitting throughout the day.
Dehydration: When you don't drink enough water, it can lead to chemical imbalances in the muscle.
Unhealthy Diet: Having poor eating habits can lead to muscle pain due to a disturbance of minerals and electrolytes in your body.
How do I know I have a muscle knot?
Pain is a primary symptom of muscle knots and can occur in your muscles and joints. To the touch, it may feel bumpy, swollen and tense. Even when you relax, muscle knots may still feel contracted and tight or cause an aching sensation. Depending on where your muscle knot is located, they may become inflamed, swollen, or sensitive when touched.
Many times, a muscle knot can also lead to other symptoms. Depending on where it is located, it can send pain to other areas in your body too. This pain includes tension headaches, jaw pain, ringing in the ears, and lower back pain.
Who is more at risk of experiencing myofascial trigger points?
Though few people won't ever experience muscle knots, many have trigger points making them more susceptible than others. Studies have revealed that 97% of people with chronic pain struggle with muscle knots, while 100% of people with neck pain have them.
Other risk factors increase your likelihood of developing muscle knots, and these include:
Aging: It should come as no surprise that we're prone to experience unwanted pain as we age. This pain includes involuntary contractions of the muscles.
Disease: Diseases such as autoimmune disorders, myofascial pain syndrome, and fibromyalgia can make you more susceptible to muscle knots.
How can I treat muscle knots at home?
Though it's best to have chronic muscle knots assessed and treated by a chiropractor, once you've been diagnosed, there are many at-home pain-relieving techniques you can follow to treat muscle knots. No matter which option you choose, remember that the goal is to release any trigger points in an attempt to reduce pain, increase mobility, and break up knotted tissue while calming inflamed nerves.
1. Heat and Ice Treatment
To relieve pain caused by muscle knots, heat and cold therapy are recommended and can easily be done at home.
Cold compressing for about 10 minutes will make veins and tissue contract, reducing circulation in the area treated. Removing the cold for about 15 minutes will make the veins overcompensate and dilate, ensuring that blood rushes to the affected area.
Applying heat to the affected area will help loosen and relax stiff muscles and increase blood flow, promoting healing and relieving pain.
Whichever form of therapy you choose, always use a cloth to cover the heat or ice source.
2. Anti-inflammatory Medication
Over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen helps reduce muscle pain.
3. Aerobic Exercise
A great way to loosen tight muscle is partaking in aerobic exercises such as cycling, swimming, and jumping jacks. Just be careful if your muscle knots have been caused by overexercising in the first place.
4. Massage Therapy
Many experts recommend massage therapy as the most effective way to treat muscle knots. You may be able to push or rub out a muscle knot at home by focusing on loosening up the tight muscle fiber and relieving tension.
When enough pressure is applied, the knot will start to soften and release. Using the G5 ProPower from Mettler, you'll be able to give your muscles a deep treatment. This powerful massage tool is trusted by experts worldwide and offers a powerful, customizable massage therapy treatment to curb muscle knots. Massage therapy should be delivered in the right dosage, and the G5 ProPower is scientifically calibrated to do just that.
What are some professional treatments of muscle knots?
If you're interested in other treatments for your muscle knots, you can consult a professional for the following:
- Chiropractic Treatment
- Acupuncture Dry-Needling
- Ultrasonic Therapy
- Ischemic Compression
- Low-Level Laser Therapy
As with many things, prevention is better than cure, and when it comes to muscle knots, the same can be said. Reducing stress, being active without overexercising, creating healthy eating habits, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep can help reduce your chances of experiencing muscle knots.