A muscle knot is a painful or tender spot in a muscle. It feels tight and sore, and it often happens in the upper back or legs. They’re not usually harmful, but they can certainly be uncomfortable.
What Are Muscle Knots?
If you’ve ever had pain in your back, in your neck, or under your shoulder blade, you’ve probably had a muscle knot. The name makes it sound like the muscle is twisted, but that’s not the case. Knots are usually a type of cramp that causes a small percentage of a muscle to tense up. This tension can be painful.
Muscle knots usually happen because a muscle has been irritated by a repetitive motion. Athletes will notice muscle knots after training one group of muscles for a long period of time. A muscle might also knot when it’s in an awkward position for too long. For example, sitting at a desk or driving a car for a long time, especially without breaks. This can irritate a muscle to the point of it “knotting up”.
Research suggests muscle knots may affect blood flow, and that’s what makes the knotted area hurt. Others say the pain could be caused by nerves that are triggered by the knot.
No matter what causes it, a muscle knot is painful, and this pain can linger for days or weeks. The discomfort might affect your work or make it hard to do things you enjoy.
How to Treat Muscle Knots
With some time and patience, you can often manage a muscle knot at home. Here are some simple tricks for getting your muscle to relax and stop hurting:
Sometimes, getting up and moving or doing gentle stretching exercises can relieve a muscle that’s knotted from being in an uncomfortable position for too long. Stretching can also prevent knots. If you notice certain areas knotting up often, ask your therapist or Chiropractor about stretches to loosen those muscles and lower the chances of more knots.
Ice and heat.
Most muscle pain responds well to alternating ice and heat. Use an ice pack on the spot for a short while, and then switch to a warm compress or heating pad. If you notice that one seems to help more than the other, stick with what you feel is best.
Trigger point massage.
Sometimes, firm pressure encourages your muscle to release. You can use your hands or a foam roller to apply pressure. Simply find the knot and press on it as hard as you can tolerate. Do this several times a day until the muscle feels better.
A massage with a professional massage therapist might be helpful. Tell them where the knot is and what may have caused it. Your therapist can work on that muscle and identify any areas around it that might be adding to the pain.
It can take some time to ease pain from a knotted muscle. You may need to repeat treatments, such as massage, to resolve the problem fully. In the meantime, try to avoid the thing that irritated your muscle in the first place. If you think you have knots or are struggling with exercises because of muscle tightness or pain contact us for more information on how Massage Therapy can help.