Preventing and Treating Muscular Knots
WHAT IS A MUSCLE KNOT?
You probably hear this term a lot with people saying things like “I have a huge knot in my back” or “I’m all knotted up!” But what does this actually mean?
Understanding a little bit about muscle tissue will help you understand what a ‘knot’ is. Muscle fibres run in all different directions throughout your body, with muscles layered on top of each other. Our muscles should be pliable, strong and challenged but when we sit in the same position all day, if we injure ourselves or if we are chronically dehydrated, our mobility and flexibility can become reduced. Various muscle fibres start to stick to each other and become adhered. This hard and lumpy feeling is what’s referred to as a muscle ‘knot’.
Muscle ‘knots’ are incredibly common but that doesn’t mean they are normal or harmless. Chronic stress on our muscles can create micro-tearing of muscle tissue which creates scar tissue. If left untreated the muscle tissue will continue to lose elasticity and cause postural stress that is hard to reverse.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of things you can do to treat and prevent muscle knots.
How to avoid getting muscle knots in the first place:
Massage is not just an occasional luxury saved for vacations and spa days. Massage Therapy can help keep your muscles healthy, pliable and oxygenated so you maintain flexibility and mobility.
When you’re well hydrated, the water inside and outside the cells of contracting muscles provides adequate nutrients and removes waste efficiently so your muscles will perform better. Water is also important for lubricating joints.
Our bodies cannot handle being in the same position for too long. If you usually spend long hours at a desk or driving, for example, try to take regular breaks and walk around to stretch your body out. Even when you are sitting still, straighten out your back regularly, turn your neck from side to side, uncross your legs and move as much as you can.
Your muscles were designed to be challenged. You are built to perform. If you’re not moving, stretching and lifting then you are compromising muscle health.
A life filled with stress and lack of sleep can be a pathway to injury. Slow down, breathe and get more sleep. 15 minutes a day of focused relaxation time can make a world of difference to your well-being.
What to do if you already have muscle knots:
If you’re in pain, it is your body’s way of saying it needs a break. Try to take a few days away from your usual routines so you’re taking a break from whatever is causing the pain.
Massage Therapy is not only great for prevention, but a good Massage Therapist can help relieve muscle pain, break up the adhesions and recommend self-care. Both soft and deep tissue massage techniques can be used to target muscle knots directly, breaking down the fibres and stretching out affected areas.
Gentle stretching movements through your full range of motion can be very helpful. Do not push stretches too hard without discussing first with a Physical Therapist or Massage Therapist. And remember that just because a muscle is hurting doesn’t mean it needs to be elongated. Sometimes the opposite is true. However, gentle, full-body movement is usually a good idea as long as it is pain-free.
So, move around. Get a massage. Go to bed a little earlier. Drink more water. Your body will thank you!