Most of us are familiar with muscle knots, also known as myofascial trigger points (myo=muscles; fascial= fascia or connective tissue) that occur at the back of the neck, shoulders and upper back.
Muscle knots form when muscle fibers are held in a contracted state and get stuck there; they shorten and don’t let go and become “locked short” . The affected area is usually sore, tender and tight and feels compact like a knot.
WHY THIS HAPPENS
There are many reasons why this might happen. Here are the most common cause of muscle knots:
Acute traumatic injury; falling down, accidental injury during physical activity that places strain in the joints or surrounding muscular tissue.
Prolonged poor posture; sudden strain due to improper lifting; maintaining the same posture for a prolonged period of time. For example a slouched position while sitting with head projected forward.
Continual arduous activities. Eventually muscle tissue becomes fatigued and can no longer relax; the tissue remains locked short and knotted.
Stop repeating the activity that generates pain such as prolonged sitting or arduous exercise or activity.
2. Promote blood flow into the area and relaxation. This can be done in many ways:
Massage therapy balls
Stretching. Contracting and releasing the area repetitively 4 to 6 times. This promotes tissue relaxation and elongation in the knotted area, increases blood flow, releases accumulated lactic acid.
Medication: there are many topical applications to reduce muscle soreness.
Instead of maintaining the same posture for a prolonged period of time change your position or take frequent breaks.
Gentle physical exercise helps maintain muscle elasticity.
Regular exercise prevents sudden muscle contraction when stretching, fast movement or lifting. It also fatigues the area and helps the muscle to reset.
Stay hydrated; water intake helps prevent muscle contraction when active. Alcohol and caffeine have the opposite effect – they dehydrate.
Posture Correction. Perform exercises to improve strength of postural muscles. Learn how to sit, stand and lift in a way that improves postural strength and eliminates the strain causing the muscle knots in the first place.
Written by Joanne Pineau, HBSc., C-IAYT
If you'd like to learn more about posture correction and exercises to release muscle tension consider private lessons in my studio or online. Contact me to set up an appointment or book a day & time through Schedulicity.