You can feel it and I can feel it when I massage you; that little – or big – knot that’s painful to touch but needs to be worked on to relax. When coming for a massage, most people know they are tight and most people are yet surprised to see how many knots they have; they are very often a lot more than they were expecting!
So we know they are painful and we want to get rid of them – or at least we don’t want them to hurt that bad. But then, what is that thing exactly?
A muscle knot is actually a myofascial trigger point. When you want to use a muscle to do a movement, your brain sends a message to the muscle for it to act in a certain way, to contract and relax. When the muscle stays contracted without receiving any messages, it is going to create a knot in a specific area of the muscle. That happens for many reasons: injury, sedentary life style, overuse or stress. The muscle is just going to stay ‘stuck’. The knot is just a little part of the muscle in itself and specialists have found out that they are some patterns in where the knots form.
Because the muscle remains flexed and refuse to relax, it creates pain.
TrPs can be “active” or inactive.” Have you ever felt very achy when you’re sick with a cold or flu? Much of this ache can be contributed to inactive (latent) knots that are being woken up or activated by the cold. If they are active they are usually shooting (referring) pain all over the place. If they are in your shoulders, neck, head, or jaw you can get a tension headache. If you have one in your rotator cuff it can make your forearm hurt. There are even knots that can develop in your neck muscles that can make your ear ring, your eye water, or even give you a toothache! If the referral pain touches another knot it can activate it, or if it is chronic enough you can develop MORE knots within the referral pattern of the original knot.
The good news is these referral patterns are not at all random. They follow very specific routes through the body which are so consistent we have developed “Trigger Point Charts.” The darker areas are the most common referral patterns, the lighter areas a little less common.
What can you do to remove your knots?
Thinking that exercising, like running, after a day at work is going to help is wrong and can actually make the whole thing worst. Your muscles have behaved abnormally all day by sitting at a desk and all of a sudden they should work 100%. Bad bad bad for your body! That’s when stretching – I mean real long and good stretches – start being so crucial if you want to help your body prepare for that run. Stretch and start walking for example, before going for the full run. During the day, take frequent breaks while at work to walk around and get some fresh water. It’s going to keep your muscles hydrated and working a bit. If you start experiencing pain during your exercise, it is the sign that you must stop, your muscle is too weak to perform the movement, so never ‘push through’ the pain or you are really going to injure yourself.
- Come and see me for an hour deep tissue massage and some myofascial release
- Take regular bath with Epsom Salt. Epsom Salt contains magnesium, which is quickly absorbed through the skin and goes directly in the blood system and hence your muscles. Your muscles relax quickly and effectively that way.
- Give yourself a massage. The tennis ball and roller foam should always be your best friends! A couple of minutes a day is going to make a huge difference! Think about it like brushing your teeth: it’s just an obligation to stay healthy
- Stretch every day but be careful: if you pull hard to touch your toes and hunch over your are going to injure your lower back; always bend your knees if you want to stretch your back. If you want to stretch your legs, do so while lying on your back, it’s going to prevent you from getting injured.
- Relax!!! Find your way to relax, take deep breaths, enjoy the beautiful skies and spend some good quality time in good company;-)