Knots are good when you’re a boy scout…but many of us don’t have those kinds of knots. No scout can help us get rid of muscle knots. They are, if you’ll pardon the pun, a real pain. Everyone has experienced knots before, and even with the best of intentions, they will getdsdsdssdddssdfasdfasdfasdf knots again. Smaller than the muscle spasms associated with muscle cramps, they generally inhabit the muscles around the neck, shoulders, and lower back. Symptoms include a painful tenseness in a small area that seems to intensify when stretched, and might feel harder than surrounding muscle when probed. Getting rid of them sometimes requires a good strong massage…but sometimes that’s just not available.
Muscle knots are caused by an atypical contraction or constriction of muscle tissue that fails to release. Much like cramping, the ultimate biology involved is a bit mysterious. However, there are a number of things that have been shown to have an effect on the problem, or even prevent it.
Best Ways to Get Rid of Muscle Knots
Stretching can help prevent and alleviate muscle knot pain. It’s always good to stretch before doing any strenuous activity. It helps to adapt your muscles to something other than sedentary living. Many minor muscle injuries can be prevented if we are vigilant about preparing for our workouts. Muscle knots, muscle spasms, and other painful muscle problems are no exception. Warming down and stretching after strenuous activities helps to prevent muscle stiffness often associated with muscle knots.
Massaging a muscle knot can be a painful, at first. In the long run, massage can help encourage the muscle to release from its contracted state. If you are lucky enough to have a live-in, deep tissue masseuse, or know of a good one you can visit, they will know how to deal with muscle knots and areas of tension. The technique is simple and effective. Using pleasant massage oil, apply direct pressure following the grain of the muscle, feeling for the knot. Once isolated, massage outwards from the knot, and then back again. There are several devices available that allow you some semblance of self-massage. I just rub up against a door frame, like a bear would on a tree. Growling is optional, but encouraged.
Improving your posture is a simple way to prevent muscle knots. Sitting in one position too long isn’t good, and that includes slouching at a desk or reclining in front of the television. Sitting so that muscles aren’t strained and blood flow isn’t cut off will help prevent muscle knots and cramps. If you do sit for extended periods at your job, keep your head up, and make it a habit to get up and walk around a bit every 30 minutes to an hour.
Strong, toned muscles are less likely to get muscle knots.Knots and muscle spasms are often linked to some sort of extraordinary physical effort. Avoid overdoing it, and work up to higher levels of physical performance. A body in pain does no good. Following a daily exercise regimen is the key to a healthy, long, pain-free life. If you don’t have a workout schedule, it’s never too late to start one. The key is to start slowly, and eventually work up to serious weightlifting and aerobic workouts. If you don’t, I guarantee you will have more cramps and muscle knots than before you started!
Over-the-counter pain killers can offer temporary relief for pain caused by muscle knots. The pain from muscle knots will fade naturally after a few days. The little tears caused by the constriction of the muscles will heal themselves eventually, and the soreness left behind by the knot will dissipate. But if it is really bothering you, or if it is having an effect upon how you live your life, taking a couple of anti-inflammatory drugs will help to dull the pain for a few hours. If that doesn’t help, or the pain is unbearable, you should definitely have it checked out by a physician. If you’re interested, Amazon does sell Aleve in a variety of options.
Best Natural Muscle Knot Treatments
Stress relief. What I most associate muscle knots with is hard, tense spots in the back. A stressful day spent at a keyboard might manifest itself in a sore spot on your back. Stress can take years off your life, and it can make the years you do have painful and miserable. Stress relieving activities like a hot bath, yoga, meditation, a walk in the park, or just reading a good book in a quiet room, can help get rid of muscle knots.
Nutrition. Muscle knots and muscle spasms can be caused by low mineral levels in your diet. If you have a problem with muscle pain, consider increasing your intake of calcium and potassium via natural sources such as fruits and veggies. Multivitamins are another option, and you get to drink some water while you are swallowing them. Dehydration has also been linked to muscle pain and cramping. Make sure you are drinking enough water, especially if you are physically active.
Heat and ice. Heat, when applied to a painful area, will help to alleviate pain by drawing oxygenated blood in and around the sore spot. Adding a bag or two of dry rice to a tube sock is a good way to make a homemade heat pack. Close off the open end and heat it in the microwave for around 45 seconds. It should stay warm for hours. Heat isn’t always the best answer though. If there has been an injury, especially one involving swelling, ice would definitely be the better option. Either way, reusable gel hot/cold packs, like these on Amazon, will help out.
Myofascial Trigger Points
One embattled theory for the cause of muscle knot pain is known as myofascial trigger points. These trigger points are at the center of contracted muscle fibers (like knots). When palpated, they can be quite painful, but can also be associated with pain elsewhere in the body. Our nervous system is a funny thing. I’m sure you’ve experienced touching a spot on your body which seemed to cause sensations in two places at once. The same phenomena can cause us to feel pain in one place, even if the cause is somewhere else. This theory is the basis of some of the more questionable pain relief treatments out there, such as acupuncture and dry needling. Neither option has had any conclusive studies showing that they’ve cured anything.
Separating Fact from Fiction
Chiropractic care is an oft debated subject these days. I can honestly say, from personal experience, that I think chiropractic medicine has its place in helping to alleviate bone and joint related pain. A good physical therapist will, for the most part, use the same tools and references to heal you. There are different styles or schools of chiropractic medicine. Some are very pragmatic, while others border on new age spirituality. My first chiropractor liked to manhandle the spine via direct adjustments, with a satisfying crunch each time. Later practitioners seemed to focus on ultrasound machines, explaining that sound waves did the job of manual adjustments. I never felt anything more than a little tingle from the experience, and found it a bit on the dubious side. Oddest of all, I think, are those who use these mysterious clicking devices that, to me, feel a little too psychosomatic/placebo-effect. I could be wrong.
Thankfully, most chiropractors will espouse the efficacy of common sense treatments without necessarily suckering a person into more treatments. Daily stretching, regular exercise, a healthy diet are standard issue. The liberal application of ice is a must for any chiropractic prescription. Those things really work to help get rid of muscle knots!!