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What is a muscle knot and why does it happen?

You have probably said or heard at some point, " I have knot in my back (shoulder, neck)". But what does this actually mean? Can a muscle really get tied in a knot? Well, no, not really but the fibres can bunch up…

Muscles contain lots of fibres which are capable of contracting and stretching which is what enables us to move. Sometimes, however, some of these fibres contract but don't release. The fibres at the 'knot' are tense and contracted but the fibres further away are stretched. This restricts the blood flow to the area and fibres close by the site come out in sympathy and also contract but don't release.

The reduced blood flow means that oxygen cannot get to the fibres which are not nourished and waste products build up. This generates pain and the brain subconsciously protects the area by making other muscles do the work (our brains and bodies are really very good at that and it is called compensation pattern). The fibres are essentially 'bunched up" and the resultant lump can be the size of a pin head or the size of pea. This is called a Trigger point and it will be tender, it maybe painful or you may not even know that it is there.

The reason for this is because another thing our bodies are good at is 'referring' pain. This is where the painful site is some distance from the Trigger Point. You may have a headache or feel pain in your calf but the cause is a trigger point in your shoulder or your gluteal muscles (bottom muscles). Luckily, over time these referred pain sites have been catalogued and a skilled therapist will know where to look for trigger points for referred pain.

Unfortunately, if left untreated, the muscle tissue will continue to lose elasticity and can cause postural stress or changes. The good news is that they can be dealt with. Once they are found there are massage and pressure techniques that will ease them and relieve the pain. The technique for dealing with trigger points is called "NeuroMuscular Technique" or NMT. It can be simple or it can sometimes be complex and take time but take's knot a problem.....

Treating a trigger point in the Soleus muscle (calf)

Treating a trigger point in the calf

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