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What is a muscle knot? Why does it happen? What can you do to relieve it?

Muscles knots are hard, sensitive areas of muscles that tighten and contract even when the muscle is at rest. Muscle knots, also known as triggers points ( TrP), can occur anywhere on the body, but typically appear on the back and neck. The affected muscles become weak, stiff, and lack the normal range of motion. When pressure is put on the muscle knots, there is not only localized pain, but can also cause pain to another part of the body, known as referred pain. Since many trigger points occur in deep tissue, muscle knots are also sometimes called myofascial pain. Trigger points can be active or latent. Latent trigger points create a painful sensation when direct compression is applied. Active trigger points produce spontaneous pain, as well as when the muscle is pressed.

When muscles become dehydrated or immobile, either from sitting in the same position for long periods of time, repetitive use, or from an injury, the fascia around the muscle becomes adhesive. Fascia is the thin membrane that covers the muscle and connects it to the bone. This connective tissue surrounds not only the big muscles, but it is also surrounds each individual fiber. When these deeper muscle fibers become glued together, you'll have a muscle know. The effect can be anything from mild discomfort to intense pain.

There are several ways to release muscle knots and relieve myofascial pain that can include physcial therapy, chiropractic treatments, acupuncture, trigger point injections, and massage therapy. For this article, I will discuss ways within my scope of practice that I've been able to help clients through massage therapy, gentle stretching, and trigger point therapy. These methods are noninvasive and fairly tolerated by the client.

Massage Therapy, using deep strokes, helps to "melt" the trigger point. Lymph fluid, containing the muscle's waste (lactic acid), is then moved out of the body. Each time deep pressure is applied, fresh blood is able to flow in providing oxygen and nutrients to the muscle. Sometimes, the client feels some immediate relief, but much depends on how long the muscle knot has been present.

Trigger Point Therapy uses referral patterns of the trigger points to locate the point in that muscle and apply direct pressure to release the spasm. The digital pressure is applied for 30-90 seconds, up to 3 times per session.

Gentle Stretching is done after applied pressure. Trigger point pain will intensify if stretching is done before the tissue is warmed up and oxygenated blood is flowing to the muscle. Assisted stretching can then be beneficial. Oftentimes, I will use a muscle rub or spray that quickly reduces skin temperature and is very effective at reducing pain and deactivating acute trigger points.

Some clients will experience immediate relief after just one 60 minute session, however, it usually takes 24 to 72 hours before the full benefits of the massage are achieved. If muscle knots are chronic, it may take several sessions before they are fully released.

If you are experiencing the myofascial pain from muscle knots, don't wait to get relief! Contact me at or visit the website - - to book an appointment online. Therapeutic Massage Packages (Buy 4 - Get 1 free) are also available.

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