The reality is different if you think the muscle knot is some kind of twisted or kinky muscle. Muscle knots are usually caused due to tension in the tender muscle spot that causes discomfort and even pain. Those who suffer from back or neck pain are most likely to have muscle knots, but regardless of how discomforting it can be, there is no evidence of muscle knots showing up on scans.
In this blog post, we have enlisted every detail about the muscle knot, its symptoms, treatments, and how it feels.
What is a Muscle Knot?
When a muscle is continuously irritated by specific movements for a long time, it may result in a muscle knot. These trigger points are developed when the muscle comes under stress during an intense disturbance in the muscle’s regular movement. According to a few doctors, muscle spasms or muscle cramps disturb the blood flow, resulting in pain at the muscle knot.
Any body part with muscles or fascia is susceptible to developing muscle knots. The most common areas where the muscle knots can be formed include the lower back, neck, arms, shins, shoulders, and mid-back.
Certain hyperirritable muscle nodules are commonly called ‘myofascial trigger points.’ These points can either be latent or active but are painful in both conditions. While latent trigger points produce a painful sensation when touched, the active trigger points do not need to be touched to cause pain.
Some triggering factors to stimulate painful muscle knots are:
- Sitting in the same posture for many hours
- Driving for too long
- Training one group of muscles repetitively without breaks
When certain hard and sensitive points of muscles come under pressure due to tightening and contractions, it stimulates pain in the surrounding area.
Upon touching the muscle knot, it may feel bumpy, swollen, and tight, resulting in limited muscle movement. Also, when the muscle knot is touched, the pain passes to the nearby area and slowly radiates toward other muscles.
What Causes Muscle Knots?
Although there is not much research on the causes of muscle knot, a few pieces of evidence suggest that muscle knot is caused due to overusing the same muscle area repetitively or over weightlifting.
Since our muscle fibers are made for relaxing and contracting, the fibers may start sticking to each other if we do not process this nature of muscle fiber correctly. This may lead to the formation of a knot at the spot where the muscle fibers are intermingled.
There are certain reasons involved behind painful trigger points, including:
- Poor body posture
- Heavy lifting, overusing the same muscle area
- Emotional stress & tension (Here are some ways to reduce stress)
- An accidental injury that results in tear and twist
- Prolonged bed rest, lack of any physical activity
- Poor ergonomics
- Too much sitting time
- Joint problems
How to Treat Muscle Knots?
The muscle knots are normal and do not indicate any harmful health condition. However, the longer a muscle knot stays in its place and is left untreated, the more chance it has to become permanent. It is advised to treat these muscle knots as soon as possible to get rid of painful and aching sensations.
There are certain things you can do to get rid of painful muscle knots and get back to your everyday life routine sooner.
1. Do Somebody Stretches
Stretches are beneficial for the muscle’s health and prevent unpleasant muscle knots. If you feel the formation of uncomfortable and sore muscle knots at a certain spot, ask your therapist or look for gentle body stretches to lower the appearance of muscle knots. Aerobic exercises such as jumping jacks and swimming are great for muscle strength and to prevent muscle knots.
2. Try Ice and Heat Therapy
Since icing is an excellent and effective way to get over inflamed and sore body areas, trying ice or ice packs on the spot of a muscle knot helps prevent the muscle knot. Apply an ice pack on the painful area and alternate it with a heating pad. If the heating pad works better than the ice, stay stick to that or vice versa.
3. Do a Massage
Your muscle may release when you apply forceful pressure. To exert pressure, use your hands or a foam roller. Just locate the knot and apply as much pressure as you can stand. Repeat this several times daily until the muscle is no longer sore. Myofascial trigger points may be treated with static compression and a foam roller to improve performance and address muscle function issues.
4. Take Some Rest
If you feel muscle knots in your body, take some rest from strenuous physical activities. Take a break from everything and give your body some time to heal. Relax as much as possible in a comfortable position and use pillows to support and comfort your body.
5. Trigger Point Pressure Release
By applying pressure to your trigger points, you can prevent muscle knots. The muscular knot goes under pressure a qualified practitioner applies until it releases. After a therapy session, your therapist will give you a series of exercises to perform at home. Your muscles will benefit from this muscle training.
6. Treatments to Reduce Muscle Knots
Although muscle knots can be treated at home and through certain medications. If the muscle knot does not disappear and the symptoms are not minimized, various treatments are available to restore your muscle’s functionality and prevent muscle knots medically.
A few of the prescribed treatments for muscle knots include:
Low-Level Light Therapy in which the affected area of the muscle knot is exposed to infrared light.
Dry needling in which a small thin needle is inserted into the muscle knot area to break and release the muscle knot.
Pulsed ultrasound penetrates the ultrasound radiations to break down the muscle knot.
TENS Therapy, abbreviated as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, passes a low level of electricity to treat muscle knots.
Acupuncture is a traditional method of strategically inserting thin needles into the affected muscle area on the body to treat muscle knots.
READ MORE: How to Reduce Muscle Aches and Soreness?
Prevention from Muscle Knots
The formation of muscle knots can be prevented by adopting a healthy lifestyle and improving your postures and positions. There are certainly other things you can do to prevent muscle knots which are given below:
- Avoid slouching and stooping forward while sitting. Focus more on your sitting position during rest with your shoulders erect, back, and down.
- Always warm up your body before starting any aerobic or anaerobic exercises to avoid your body from muscle collapse.
- If your job requires you to sit for long hours, always take a break for a few minutes between the work, stand up, and move for 2 to 3 minutes after at least one hour of continuous sitting.
- Diet intake comprises vital nutrients, including magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin.
- Take plenty of water and avoid dehydration, as the lack of water is also a major reason behind muscle knots. Use this water intake calculator to know the right amount of water your body needs.
- Get regular massages, as these are great for improving blood circulation and strengthening your muscles.
Although muscle knots can’t always be avoided, you can take precautions to lower your risk. Ensure you engage in regular physical activities and concentrate on relaxation and flexibility. Find out which treatment options and lifestyle changes are most effective for you.
If you feel that besides doing all the home remedies and massaging your painful area, the muscle knot or the soreness is not reduced or even worsening, you should consult your doctor to relieve the condition. The muscle sore can lead to various other health-related conditions in severe painful conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who is more likely to develop muscle knots?
People who are overweight or obese, have a history of specific joint issues, insomnia, a sedentary lifestyle, or abnormal breathing are more likely to develop muscle knots.
What do muscle knots look like on the skin?
The muscle knots usually feel like a small bumpy area tightened or swollen due to tension in the myofascial trigger points.
Does a muscle knot feel like a hard lump?
A muscle knot might feel like a hard bump upon touching it. The ones which are made inside the deep layers of soft tissues may not be felt upon touching but are painful.
How do you break down a muscle knot?
Taking a proper massage, using a body roller, using an ice pack, trying acupuncture, or consulting a therapist may help break down a muscle knot.
Are muscle knots permanent?
The longer a muscle knot is left untreated, the more likely it becomes permanent. However, the muscle knot starts reducing if appropriately treated on time.
How long should a muscle knot last?
A muscle knot takes a week or a maximum of two to disappear. You may get a massage to make it recover sooner, as it helps break down the muscle knot quickly.
Is it OK to massage muscle knots?
Since massage helps improve blood circulation and flow, it helps treat the muscle knots effectively. Be gentle on the area of the muscle knot, as intense massage may lead to even more pain and stiffness.
Are muscle knots serious?
Although muscle knots are not too serious about creating any complications, they might get extremely painful and discomforting for some people. They are not harmful or lethal but are discomforting and, most of the time, restrict a person from moving his affected muscle area freely.
What causes muscle knots?
Muscle knots are usually caused due to overusing a muscle, accidental injuries, or lack of physical activities.
What problems can be caused due to muscle knots?
The muscle knots may result in limited physical movements, painful sensations, and complications in the movement of muscles and joints.
Are knots caused by stress?
Yes, stress and anxiety are some of the critical reasons that result in muscle knots forming.
Which are some of the massage therapies to resolve muscle knots?
The massage therapies used to release the muscle knot include Swedish massage, Self-massage, Deep Tissue Massage, and Sports Massage.