Assuming the knot is purely formed by muscular dysfunctions, then muscle tissue can become tight and hard. When these knots become highly dysfunctional they can radiate pain to other parts of the body which are referred to as trigger points.
What causes muscle knots?
Muscle knots can form from variety of reasons including
· Poor Posture
· Stress and Anxiety
· Overuse of muscle
· Injury to muscular tissue
· Sedentary lifestyle and lack of use and mobility
· Joint Problems
· Poor eating habits.
These knots or trigger points form when fibers in the tissue become shorted and stay contracted creating a hardened section as they don’t release. This can be from trauma or due to a lack of movement.
What are some ways you can prevent muscle knots from forming?
It's easy to keep moving and never take a break which often leads to muscle dysfunctions and feeling overwhelmed. When we are resting we enter the parasympathetic state which allows for our body to restore our tissue back to a healthy state. Make sure you take time to rest during your busy days, get a good night sleep, and give your body time to heal between workouts.
Stress and anxiety can cause a number of psychological issues that start to lead to physiological issues. This is due to the excessive release of cortisol which is a hormone that engages your fight or flight response. From a physical perspective this often leads to fatigue of the body and muscle tissues as well as muscles tensing up as a protective response. When the protective response is held for a long period of time it can causes knots to form in the muscle belly.
Learn more about what causes stress here:
And learn how to relieve stress here :
Stretching has a variety of benefits for a number of reasons. It can help loosen the muscle fibers by inhibiting the stretch receptors. There are a variety of stretches to use depending on your needs including warm up, cool down, at home relaxation and more. There are 3 types of stretching including corrective, active, and functional.
Corrective Exercise uses static stretches that are held longer than 30 seconds and help release muscles. Active stretching involves leaning into the stretch for a couple seconds and then releasing it to maintain the tissues excitability but not fully relax it. Finally functional flexibility uses dynamic movements like lunges and squats to work on mobility and prepare the muscle tissue for athletic use. You can select which stretch to utilize depending on the needed results.
Foam Rollers, massage balls, Thera-canes
These types of tools use pressure to help release the knots. You want to locate the uncomfortable or tight spot and hold a static pressure, which means your won’t move it for at least 30 seconds. This is also referred to as autogenic inhibition and basically the pressure receptors override the receptors sensing length which in turn forces the muscle to release. Slowly move along the belly of the muscle and hold on every knot.
Heat is a great way to bring in fresh blood and nutrients into the muscle tissue. This can also have a soothing response which can help engage your parasympathetic system allowing you to feel relaxed and less stressed.
Mobility focused exercise
One of the simplest ways to prevent muscles from sticking together is to move them. When we stay static all day it gives our muscle fibers a chance to form adhesions and create postural compensations.
Massage Therapy & Self-Massage
Massage therapy can have a magnitude of benefits for soft tissue. A skilled massage therapist is able to help release muscular adhesions and break apart scar tissue. Some therapist use trigger point release which uses an ischemic (not moving) pressure to release these spots that radiate pain. This works much like a foam roller does.
Self-Massaging your knots can also be highly beneficial. To do this you want to locate area of stiff muscle tissue first. Then you can apply pressure and do little circles with your finger to release the spot.
IASM tools can also be useful during a massage session as a way to deeply engage the tissue and further break it up and release the muscular tissue. Things like cupping, gua sha, and percussion guns can all have similar effects as an elbow or finger tip if not better due to deeper engagement and less taxing on the nervous system.
Muscular knots are something that are much easier to prevent than recover from. Take a little time every day to increase the health of your tissue so you can live your best life.