A knot is bunched up muscle tissue right? Well maybe not.
We don’t know for certain, but the prevailing theory is that knots are the result of over working, or dysfunctional muscles, where the message to contract fails to stop sending and results in chronically contracted muscle fibres and ultimately, a small thickened area of muscle tissue.
Another common theory (potentially both theories could be correct in different instances), is that an overworking, tired or dysfunctional muscle causes chemicals to be released that restrict blood flow and ultimately reduce the body's ability to clean up waste products from the area causing the knot.
Whatever the cause, when you press on this knot and it can be quite painful, it can also send referral pain elsewhere in the body, normally following a common pattern for each knot. This is what is known as a trigger point.
It feels great to disperse the pressure of the knot with some trigger point worK - for you and for us!
You may be surprised to learn that exercise actually helps to decrease the likelihood and severity of muscle knots. So if you don’t already, introduce some daily exercise activities into your life and see how much that can help.
A particularly nasty knot is the one you get in the middle of your shoulder blade, apply some trigger point therapy to that spot and you will likely find it refer into the front of your shoulder. A good way to prevent this knot forming is to do some rotator cuff and back strengthening work.
Rotator Cuff Exercise (how to)
Take a resistance band and wrap it around your wrists
Think about pulling your shoulder blades back so that they’re floating away from your rib cage
Keeping the shoulder position pull your hands away from each other
Hold the pull against the resistance of the band for 10 seconds
Relax and then repeat 3x daily
Back Strengthening Exercise (how to)
Lie face down on the floor
Place your arms diagonally up above you so that you look like a Y
Gently lift your arms a little off the floor
Hold for 10 seconds
Relax and then repeat 10x daily
At Home Trigger Point Release can also help when you feel the knot coming on. Using a tennis ball (less painful due to more give in the ball), a squash ball or trigger point ball, which is my favourite but a little more intense. Place the ball into the area of tension and hold until the pain dissipates.
Some great spots to target are:
The Pec Minor
Lie face down with one arm out at right angles
Place the ball in the middle of the Pec muscle
Create greater pressure by lifting the opposite leg and rolling into the shoulder with the ball under it
The Rotator Cuff
Lie on your back
Place a ball in the middle of your shoulder blade
Roll around until you feel a pressure point
Hold until the pain dissipates
TFL and Glutes
Lie on your side and place a ball under your hip
Roll forwards and backwards in the shape of a C around (but not on) the hip socket
Pause over a spot of tension
When pain dissipates keep rolling and find other trigger points
Check out our youtube channel for videos on these and other exercises and releases.
So what is in a knot? We don't really know, but it's a bit of a pain that’s for sure.