People can talk around and around in circles about the concept of pain. Just as Bob Dylan sings in his signature track Not Dark Yet, “Behind every beautiful thing, there is some kind of pain.” What is pain but an unpleasant sensation? An emotional experience that is different for every person in this world? We cannot find one sole way to feel and describe pain, or one definitive way to treat and define it. But everyone knows the familiar nag of the sensory phenomenon.
Pain is one of our mind and body’s most communicative tools—felt either emotionally, physiologically, or physically. Pain is felt interpretively when nerve fibers detect damage and send a direct signal to the brain. Within the wide world of physical pain, physicians categorize pain as either acute or chronic. According to medical experts, chronic pain generally relates to long-term illnesses or damaged nerves, and acute pain has a sudden onset with a more limited duration.
Either pain type can make a person miserable. At one time or another, you may experience perpetual pain points known as muscle knots. Ever wonder what are muscle knots, and how do you get rid of them? We’ve compiled a general guide on the subject to untangle what is known about these spots within the human body. Let’s more closely examine the what, how, and why of myofascial trigger points.
Myofascial Trigger Points: A Basic Definition
When it comes to muscle knots, there’s something you need to know: the pain involves no actual knots. A visualization might imagine nerves tied together like shoestrings under your skin, but that’s not the case. Rather, a muscle knot is a small patch of contracted muscle. This specified muscle has either undergone an isolated spasm due to overuse, underuse, or an injury.
The medical scientific term for muscle knots is myofascial trigger points. The fascia is the connective bands of tissues or fibers that surround your muscles. Myofascial trigger points are distinctly hard and palpable nodules. These complex knots occur above tighten fascia that sticks close together because of continuous tension.
Active Versus Latent Knots
You can come across two diverse types of these trigger points in the muscle. Latent knots do not vigorously hurt unless touched, but they can restrict your movement and full range of motion. Conversely, active trigger points send constant pain along your neural pathways. These triggers can induce unexplained tenderness in areas outside of the core knot.
Symptoms: The Most Common Locations
You’ll notice that pain is the primary symptom. However, as mentioned above, every individual experiences pain a bit diversely. Your symptoms may vary from somebody else’s. The general consensus is that muscle knots noticeably cause tenseness, bumpiness, swelling, and aching sensations in specific areas of the body.
Muscle knots can appear anywhere. The most commonly lodged location is somewhere between the upper back, neck, and shoulder blades. This is known as the trapezius muscle. Your hips, lower back, calves, or shins are also a possibility. Individuals typically come across these pesky knots in a muscle that is either overused or in a poor position throughout the day. The knot develops as the muscles tighten around the weakened, strained, or injured spot as protection.
Sources: The Main Causes of Muscle Knots
The main causes of these trigger points are not clear, but common belief finds the sources in a person’s age, daily habits, or lifestyles. You don’t have to be an athlete or avid exerciser to encounter these painful spots. If you’re someone who is hunched over a desk at the office all day or works in a physically-demanding field, any repetitive motion can be a common culprit. These environmental conditions are perfect for forming tight muscle knots.
Other causes of increased tension and tight muscles could be poor posture and ergonomics, increased psychological stress, dehydration, a lack of essential nutrients from unhealthy eating habits, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. Individuals who are more likely to experience trigger points have these noted risk factors: sleep disturbances such as insomnia, a sedentary lifestyle, or a history of joint injuries or chronic problems.
Treatments: Tips for Relief and Myofascial Release
Now, how do you effectively get rid of them? Since you have more knowledge about what muscle knots are, a strategic approach is key. You will be stuck with tender tension and a limited range of motion until the muscle successfully loosens up. Fortunately, treatment or therapeutic options for muscle knots are relatively straightforward. Be sure to talk to a professional you trust about any personal medical-related advice.
The general principle around trigger point treatment is intervention. A knotted area quickly gets caught in a detrimental cycle of pain and spasms due to a continual trigger. The main objective is to interrupt the persistent cycle and release this knotted, constricted area for relief. Below we explore several different methods to do so.
Heat It Up or Ice It Down
Applying ice packs or heat pads to the affected area can work wonders to soothe the pain and tension. Alternate between the two to provide optimal relief.
Stretching: Target Muscle Groups
Engaging in regular stretching exercises is a good idea to alleviate tension and reduce tenderness. The goal is to counterbalance repetitive motion as you prevent the development of future muscle knots. If you’re unsure about the best stretches, you can ask a physical therapist or fitness instructor for suggestions.
Massage: ISTAM Therapy
Massage is a treatment that will literally get rid of the knots. Professional massage therapists may better handle persistent knots. Yet, you can also perform self-myofascial release with the right tools. Specialty IASTM tools help a person apply steady pressure around and to the trigger point. With enough pressure on the constricted area, the knot will eventually soften, loosen, and begin to release tension.
Mobilization Magic: Use the MMT
If you’re currently searching the market for an effective instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization tool, look no further than the MMT. Advanced IASTM tools are the most beneficial method to massage the knot right out of muscle, but not all of these therapeutic tools work the same.
Mobilization Magic is different. Award-winning physical therapist Peter Gregory designed this tool to relieve people’s pain and stiffness around the world. With a little time, patience, and correctly-applied pressure, the MMT can set you free. Read through the details about how it works on our website today.