You don't actually have knots in muscles. What you do have is a muscle, or group of muscle fibers that is not working properly and in a constant state of contraction, or spasm. The usual places that most people feel knots are upper neck, top of the shoulders, next to the shoulder blade near the spine, low back and in the butt muscle, but knots or trigger points can be found anywhere in the body.
Muscle fibers are long strands of tissue that connect and move bones. These fibers contract and lengthen with use and slide along side each other. When a fiber constricts and stays shortened, it can interfere with the function of surrounding fibers. The constriction causes swelling, inflammation and pain. This swelling is what your massage therapist is feeling and what causes you pain when the area is touched or moved.
When you have a muscle or group of muscle fibers within a muscle that have shortened and are not functioning correctly, it can result in loss of blood flow, lymph drainage and can affect movement. Protein fibers from the muscles can actually intertwine between fibers and they “hook” onto each other, restricting their sliding action. Studies have been done that show trigger points to have a build up of waste products such as lactic acid, pyruvic acid, protein build up from over use of the muscle and the break down of glycogen that feeds muscle tissue. With a lack of circulation waste products can't move out of the area and allow renewal of fresh blood and nutrients to the muscle. This can lead to a larger and more painful trigger point.
Compression of a trigger point helps to release fascia, the thin layer surrounding the muscle and individual fibers and forces elongation of the muscle releasing the spasm and also forces the waste products from the area allowing fresh blood and nutrients in. Accupuncture is another affective technique for treating trigger points. Depending on the size and length of time the muscle has been in a “knot”, will determine whether the trigger point will be chronic or short-term.
Massage to loosen muscles, Trigger Point to address individual problem areas, strengthening muscles with exercise and stretching muscles will help to keep “knots” at a minimum. Relaxing techniques such as meditation and biofeedback or just plain getting out in nature and moving your body will help with stress levels and a lowered level of stress helps the body be more relaxed and supple instead of tight and constricted.
Have you experienced a "knot" and what kind of treatment did you get that worked?
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