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What is a muscle knot, why does it happen and what you can do to relieve it

Updated: Apr 17, 2020

Technically a muscle knot is called a myofascial trigger point but what that means is that the fascia underneath a muscle has tightened and is now causing you discomfort. That discomfort can be so intense that you don't want to move that muscle and eventually this can challenge your range of motion in that area so you really want to seek relief quickly.

Muscle knots can be caused by too much activity or too little activity, health conditions, poor nutrition, stress, repetitive motion, improper lifing, and poor posture. They can occur in most areas of the body but most commonly occur in:

- the shoulders and neck causing headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, shoulder pain

- the lower back, and

- the lower legs, including the shins and calf muscles.

There are lots of remedies you can try before seeking professional help. Often these will provide adequate relief:

- stretching and exercising

- foam rolling

- relaxation techniques, such as yoga or guided meditation

- anti-inflammatory medications

- massage

You may want to consult a professional if your home remedies don't provide adequate relief. Your Beyond Physical Therapy doctor of physical therapy can guide you by:

- helping you know when to apply heat or ice

- recommending exercises and stretches

- performing ASTM, medical massage or other therapeutic intervention

Perhaps the most important advice we can offer is how to prevent muscle knots from occurring or reoccurring. Good posture, stretching and being mindful of what has triggered muscle knots in the past should help minimize the pain of muscle knots.


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