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SAY GOODBYE TO MUSCLE KNOTS: YOUR GUIDE TO RELIEF

Updated: 5 days ago

Ever felt that achy tightness in your calf, back, or neck that won't go away? You might be dealing with muscle knots. But what exactly are they, and how do you know if you have one? Dive into this guide to learn all about it, from their formation to their telltale signs. We'll explore what muscle knots feel like in different areas like your calf, back, and neck.


Then we'll equip you with some easy self-relief tips to loosen them up. Plus, we'll delve into why massage therapy can be a powerful tool for long-lasting relief, leaving you feeling relaxed and refreshed. So, get ready to say goodbye to those gremlins and hello to a pain-free you!


back pain, muscle knots

WHAT ARE KNOTTED MUSCLES?


Woke up feeling a bit out of shape? Oh no, some muscle knots may be hiding in one of your muscles! Come on then, let's get it out of there.


As a massage therapist, I get asked, "What are knotted muscles?" so often that I'm considering dubbing myself a muscle knots therapist. They are technically known as myofascial trigger points. They are tender, tight spots within your muscles and the surrounding fascia (connective tissue).


Imagine them as tiny, contracted bundles of muscle fibers that get stuck and cause pain. These trigger points become hypersensitive and cause a variety of symptoms, including:


  • Tenderness: The area feels sore or achy, especially when pressed.

  • Tightness: The muscle feels stiff and restricts your range of motion.

  • Referred pain: Pain that radiates beyond the trigger point to other areas. For example, a knot in your upper back might cause pain in your shoulder blade or arm.


What toxins are in muscle knots? When you exercise or stress your muscles (i.e being in a prolonged bad posture), they produce toxins such as lactic acid and other metabolic waste products.


These might be present in higher concentrations due to restricted blood flow caused by the knot, but they aren't the primary cause.


WHAT DOES A MUSCLE KNOT FEEL LIKE?


Something clients refer to as muscle knots, and therapists are trying to be smarter than thou by saying: oh you mean adhesions, can actually be a million different things. Nonetheless, they feel like knots and we call them knot



WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF MUSCLE KNOTS?


So, to try to explain muscle knots better, I must make it clear that there are four stressors that can induce pathology (knots!) in the muscle and surrounding connective tissue: adhesions, scar tissue formation, trigger points, inflammation, stiffness, atrophy, and ischemia.


The four stressors that can cause muscle knots in the neck, back and calves are these:


1) MECHANICAL

Simply, movement. Our posture is influenced by the shoes we wear, the mattress we sleep on, the chair at work, being left-handed or right-handed, a heavy shoulder bag, and so on. Due to these postural imbalances, we overuse some groups of muscles and under-use others. Under-used muscles can develop a degree of atrophy, fascia stiffening, ischemia, while overused muscles can develop inflammation, hypertonicity, spasms, trigger points, or scar tissue.


WHAT YOU CAN DO


  • Keep active!



  • Try different sports or types of exercise to introduce new movement patterns to your body.


  • Do yoga.



  • Make your body "think" out of the box!



2) CHEMICAL


While toxins don't directly cause muscle knots, some chemical factors can contribute to their formation and the pain they cause.


What matters most in terms of chemical muscular health is:


  • nutrients and oxygen supply muscles with energy,

  • potassium and magnesium determine the secretion of the muscle-moving chemical, acetylcholine,

  • Body-unfriendly substances that aren't flushed out of the muscles by blood or lymph cause a build-up of pathogenic tissue in the form of phlegm, crystals, and oedema.


WHAT YOU CAN DO



  • Keep hydrated (and you may want to check the acidity levels in your tap and bottled water - keep it on the alkaline side!)


  • Eat your greens!



  • Test yourself for food intolerance and sensitivity. Keep away from fast sugars and processed foods.


  • Support your belly with friendly bacteria cultures.



3) EMOTIONAL


Forgive me if I sound too holistic. The mind is directly connected to the body by the nervous system; our body reacts to our every thought and emotion. Why? Because the mind is directly connected to the body by the nervous system, the history of any emotional trauma will result in tension in the body.


Sometimes, it's the whole muscle group or just a muscle knot. But the result is the same: you won't relax. In fact, body language is the best way to picture how thoughts and emotions affect our movement or posture.


Cultural factors, such as how we are being seen due to being male or female, our age and social status also often dictate how we should be sitting, standing or moving. So it can result in developing dysfunctional movement patterns which will affect the state of our muscles.


WHAT YOU CAN DO


  • Talking therapy


  • Journaling



  • Meditation & deep relaxation techniques


  • Alexander technique


  • NLP & hypnotherapy.


Find a therapy that works for you.


 journaling, tea, relax

4) GENETIC


My least favourite is because it indicates something can't be changed. But what if someone told you it could be? When muscle knots are due to genetic factors, the rule here is to be familiar and honest with yourself about your flaws, strengths and cognitive/behavioural tendencies. Employ them in the most effective ways.


Choosing the sport that challenges your weaknesses is very difficult and tough work, but the results are so sweet that once you've tasted them, you won't ever want to go back.


WHAT YOU CAN DO


  • Know thy self.


  • Read.


  • Watch.


  • Try. Fail. Try again. Zen Master Seung Sahn said: "Try, try, try. 10,000 times."


We hope you now have a better understanding of muscle knots and how they feel. Next time you experience muscle knots in your neck and back, make sure to try our self-care tips!

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