It is likely that you hear this term all the time “I have a huge knot in my back” or “I’m all knotted up!”. Can a muscle really get tied in a knot? Well, the short answer is no.
Let’s talk about a little be about muscle tissue, muscle fibers run in all different directions in our body and muscles are layered on top of each other from our heads to our toes. Muscle is the reason we can play sports, why we can bend and twist. Our muscles are meant to be pliable and strong. When we sit in the same position for too like, for instance sitting at your desk all day or if you injure yourself and are unable to exercise you can lose your mobility and flexibility. Those muscle fibers stick to each other and become adhered. And that hard lumpy feeling you get is a muscle ‘knot’.
Muscles knots are quite common, but it does not mean they are harmless. Stress on our muscles creates micro-tearing of muscle tissue, which creates scar tissue. Unfortunately, if left untreated, the muscle tissue will continue to lose elasticity and cause postural stress that is hard to reverse. But the news is not all bad and there are a lot of things you can do to treat and prevent muscle knots.
As with most things’ prevention is often better than a cure, there are 5 key elements to preventing muscle knots in the first place:
Make sure you are drinking plenty of H20 and eating a well-balanced healthy diet. Foods and drinks like soft drinks, caffeinated drinks, alcohol, processed and fast foods will dehydrate your body.
Get up from your desk and move your body. Your body does not like being in one position for too long. Every hour get up and walk around, set a timer if you have to. If you cannot get up and walk around, stretch your body, turn your neck from side to side, uncross your legs and move as much as you can.
Our muscles are designed to be worked; we are built to perform. Exercise plays a big role in your muscle health. Join a local Pilates class, get involved with a walking group whatever feels good.
Massage therapy can help keep your muscles in great condition. Gone are the days when getting a massage was just a luxury, it is now a necessity to help keep your muscles healthy, pliable and oxygenated (especially with our more sedentary lifestyles). Many massage therapy clinics offer private health rebate on some services.
A life filled with stress and lack of sleep is a perfect pathway to injury. Slow down, get more sleep, and breathe. Even as little as 15 minutes a day of focused relaxation time can make a world of difference.
If you have already reached a point where prevention is no longer helping you here are some tips to give you some relief from pain:
Pain is your body’s way of saying it needs a break. If you are finding your muscles are sore, then you may need to take a few days away from the computer or the spin bike. Whatever is causing your pain, take a break from it.
Massage therapy is not only good for prevention as stated above, but a good massage therapist can help relieve the pain, break up any adhesions and recommend a self-care plan to continue at home.
If you have been in pain for a considerable amount of time physical therapy can really help. This therapy will consist of a combination of stretching and massage and the therapist is trained to help identify the underlying cause. They will also give you a home exercise program to help keep you healthy.
By far our biggest piece of advice for you is – stretch! Gentle full range of motions can be extremely helpful. Do not push stretches too hard without discussing first with a Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist, or Athletic Trainer.
The message here is get moving, get regular massage, get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water.
Your body will thank you!