Muscle Knots: The What, Why and How
What is a Knot?
I feel the need to clear the air.... the discomfort you feel is "knot" a knot. Haha.
I know you may think I'm crazy, and maybe I am a little, but please know that my only purpose in this life is to help everyone live a happier, healthier, pain-free life. Using the term "knot" just isn't working and is also incredibly misleading as to what is actually happening to your body!
We will never be able to heal ourselves if we do not know ourselves.
For those of you that wish to truly understand what is going on inside of you, here's some information about those pesky "knots":
Basically, each of our muscles are made up of bundles, which contain even smaller bundles of millions of muscles fibers. At the end of each of these rolled-up-dough-looking bundles are tendons (a flexible but inelastic cord of strong fibrous collagen tissue), which in turn are attached to a bone. Being that there are no "loose ends" of a muscle, it would be impossible for one to become "knotted".
So, if you feel a lump that is sore to touch or you are experiencing general discomfort, it is often, simply, a muscle bundle which has become too tight too often and is in a chronically contracted state. Though you shouldn't be scared if you notice this issue, it is definitely something you want to address before it worsens (which it often will).
Why Do Knots Occur?
Lack of nutrients and/or hydration.
Prolonged sitting – If you spend a lot of time sitting at work, you are likely to develop muscle knots due to staying in the same position for prolonged periods.
Stress: Mental and emotional stress are major factors in forming muscle knots.
Injuries due to:
Repetitive Action – If you use the same muscle continually, doing the same task (typing, using the mouse, texting, sports), it often exceeds the functional endurance of the muscle – this causes pain. Your body is designed to do tasks using a variety of muscles.
Poor Posture – this can cause some muscles to be over-stretched, whilst others to be over-shortened. This imbalance is seen consistently in people working on laptops, or who look down at their phones.
How to Fix This Issue?
Massage. The best and most effective treatment is soft tissue manipulation performed by a professional, preferably a Massage Therapist. ;) When you can't be with a professional, massage yourself!
Stretching. Imperative to eliminating and preventing tight muscles; a regular routine will also help improve over-all muscle health. (Remember to hold all stretches for 10 seconds or more.)
Exercise. Be gentle and thoughtful when you are exercising to fix issues. Pick a time allotment that you can manage daily, don't be overly ambitious, and stick to a routine for at least a few days to see how your body reacts.
MOVE. Keep moving throughout the day. This maintains a healthy circulation of blood through your muscles, which brings the oxygen and other goodies your tissues need to thrive. (If you haven't noticed a pattern yet.... do this gently as well. Your muscles aren't tight from being too gentle with your body, my friend.)
Ice and Heat Therapy. Apply a covered ice pad to the sore muscle areas. If heat feels good then indulge, but keep it to a minimum, wait an hour or so afterwards and be sure that you ice last. Heat will increase blood flow, which can also increase inflammation and in turn, more pain.
Relaxation. Dedicate time to relax your body and mind – you can try meditation, listen to music, take a holiday, or just give yourself time to lie down for 10 minutes.
Sleep. Create a bedtime routine that's calming and try to increase your daily sleep. Our bodies are brilliant and with some downtime can do wonders at healing itself.
Water. Drink it, plenty of it.