I have knots…not knots in my shoelaces or garlic knots (though I wouldn’t mind some garlic knots), but painful muscle knots in my back. I get them right under each shoulder blade and feel them pretty much every time I move. Muscle knots are known for being one of the main causes of daily aches and pains. Everyone has experienced a dreaded knot. But what exactly is a knot? It’s a term that gets thrown around so often that the actual meaning is sometimes lost.
Muscles knots are not actually knots. Muscle knots, also known as Myofascial Trigger Points, are painful spots in your muscles. There is some disagreement among the scientific community, but knots are generally considered to be the result of damaged muscle fibers becoming tense and sticking together. Your muscles are meant to be pliable, they allow you to bend, twist, and complete your day to day activities. There are two different kinds of muscle knots: latent knots, which do not hurt unless you make direct physical contact with them, and active knots that hurt regardless. Muscle knots tend to form in the following regions:
- Lower back
- Shoulders and shoulder blades
- Upper arms
The most common region where muscle knots occur is in the trapezius muscle, which is located directly between the shoulder blades.
What causes muscle knots?
Some of the main causes of muscle knots are injuries induced by overuse, heavy lifting, or moving improperly. When you’re injured, your body cannot always move properly, and this can strain muscles. Poor posture and a lack of exercise can also directly be a cause of knots. Another culprit that I know I am personally guilty of is prolonged sitting. I have a bad habit of getting distracted and sitting for long periods of time when I am reading or working on the computer. Additionally, stress can cause muscles to tense up leading to knots and a variety of other muscle pains.
How do you get rid of muscle knots?
1) Massage Therapy
Pressing on the irritated muscle and the surrounding area can help loosen up the muscle fibers to break up knots. If you have the time and the money, seek out a professional massage therapist. For those of us with busy schedules and a budget, I recommend purchasing a high-quality shiatsu massager designed to mimic the feeling of real hands.
Regular stretching is a great deterrent for muscle knots and can also help make them go away. Stretching helps maintain overall muscle health and flexibility, while also preventing injury. Make stretching a regular part of your daily routine.
3) Applying Heat
Temperature has a direct impact on your muscles. Heat has been proven to help sore and tense muscles relax. Heat therapy is also effective in alleviating chronic muscle pain. Invest in a heating pad or advanced massager that comes with built-in soothing heat so you can relax when you need it.
4) Adjusting Your Lifestyle
If you’re like me and you find yourself sitting for extended periods of time, try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and stand for a few minutes or take a walk. This has been especially useful for me when I am streaming one of my favorite TV shows. The alarm reminds me to pause the show and stand up and stretch so I don’t spend 3 hours straight sitting on a couch.
There is no immediate solution to muscle knots. Always listen to your own body and although I hope these tips are helpful to you, you should do what is best for you and your body. Have any additional tips? Let us know on social media!