Muscle knots, also known as trigger points, simply describe an area of muscle fibres that have become tight and contracted at rest. In healthy muscle tissue, muscles fibres should contract with activity and relax during a period of rest. When knots are present, bundles of muscle fibres are failing to relax even in their resting state which can lead to pain, stiffness and weakness.
Muscle knots can be caused by:
* A sedentary lifestyle
* Poor posture
* Weakness or muscle imbalance
* Stress and anxiety
Muscle knots may form anywhere within your body, but mostly can be found around the neck, shoulders, back, buttocks or calves. They are often very sore and prominent to touch – often feeling like a marble under the skin. If knots become more prominent they may also start to refer pain to other parts of the body including the head, jaw, face, arms and legs.
Treating muscle knots
1) Rest or change in activity – if your knots are brought about by repetitive activities or posture you may need to take more regular breaks or alter your position to reduce strain on your muscles.
2) Stretch – gentle stretching of tight muscles performed for short periods on a regular basis e.g. 30 second holds 3-4 times per day can have a positive benefit in promoting muscle relaxation.
3) Exercise – our bodies are designed to move! Most of the knots/trigger points we come across in this day and age are a result of long periods of sitting or being sedentary. Just
30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day can make a real difference in alleviating muscle tension.
4) Heat therapy – try applying heat in the form of a hot water bottle, heat patch, muscle rub, sauna or long soak in the bath to increase blood flow to the muscles which has a relaxation effect.
5) Trigger point release/self-massage – gently press onto the knot until you feel a moderate degree of discomfort. With time the pain should start reduce and you can push a little more firmly until the pain eases again.
When to seek help
If you have tried some of the above self-help treatments but have found no benefit after two weeks, it is best to seek advice from your local physiotherapist in order to prevent the issue becoming chronic and more difficult to manage. The physiotherapist can advise you on potential lifestyle factors you may need to change and provide an array of treatments to help dispel the muscle knots including:
* Trigger point therapy
* Sports/deep tissue massage
* Joint manipulation
So what are you waiting for? Give us a call today on 01276 37670 and a member of our team will be happy to help return you back to optimal health.
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Senior Physiotherapist at Thorpes Physiotherapy Ltd