Muscle knots are very common and typically in the neck and back. Have you ever been able to put your fingers on a specific spot on your neck or back and it hurts like crazy? That is probably a muscle knot. Let’s look at what a muscle knot is, where they can occur, and what to do about them.
Muscles are made up of minuscule fibers that go in all directions and are layered atop each other, and they are everywhere, from our heads to our toes. Muscle knots happen when tight muscle fibers are not able to relax or release. These knots are usually painful to touch and can feel tight or tense. Muscle knots can range from the tiny, like the size of a pinhead, to the size of a thumb. You may also notice they appear inflamed or swollen.
These little spots your can put your fingers on are called “trigger points” because when pushed on, pain spreads through the entire muscle area.
These trigger points can send pain to areas outside of the muscle and cause things like headaches, toothaches, or earaches. This is called referred pain.
What Causes Muscle Knots?
Typically, the most common culprits are dehydration, inactivity, injury, stress or repetitive movements (for example: hunching over a keyboard all day, hitting a few rounds of golf, or playing tennis).
Another common cause? Stress. It is thought that people with more stress in their lives may be clenching their muscles throughout the day leading to muscle knots.
The truth is, scientists are not completely sure how these knots form it is believed that they are a result of a combination of contributing factors listed above.
Most people have experienced muscle knots and know how painful they can be. Have you noticed that these muscle knots take a long time to go away? There is a reason for that.
Because muscle knots consist of a whole bunch of muscle fibers, these areas have decreased blood flow and therefore decreased oxygen and nutrients. This causes a buildup of toxins and wastes.
Are knots in neck and shoulders related?
Your neck is connected to your shoulders. This whole area of muscle can feel tense and tight after a stressful day or sitting at your computer for a long time. You may have noticed few muscle knots in the back of the neck and in the shoulder area.
So, are the knots in the neck and shoulders related or is it a coincidence? They are related thanks to the trapezius muscle.
The trapezius muscle extends from the base of the skull, all the way down to the middle of the back and sideways to the shoulder. You have two trapezius muscles: one on the right and one on the left. It is one of the largest muscle groups in the body and it allow you to shrug your shoulders, move your head and neck toward the shoulder of each side, and support the weight of your arms. The trapezius muscles essentially control your upper body.
Think about all the activities you do every day, whether it is work, exercise, or playing with your kids or dog. You are probably using your trapezius muscles for most of them. It’s not surprising then that we hold so much tension in our neck and shoulders, resulting in muscle knots.
How can we take care of our trapezius muscles? Here are some tips to keep stress and tension at bay:
It seems to all come down to good posture to take care of your trapezius muscles. Staying mindful of this can help you avoid muscle knots in the neck and shoulders.
Home remedies for knots in your neck and shoulders
You have done all you can to keep your trapezius muscles happy, but you still have knots in your neck or shoulder blade that will not go away?
Fortunately, there are ways you can self-treat or even prevent muscle knots:
Apply pressure to trigger points. This could be part of therapeutic treatment from a trained massage therapist, or you can also try it yourself at home. Simply put pressure on the trigger point or knot for five to ten seconds, and then release it. When a muscle is tightened into a knot, it can limit blood flow in that area. The theory is when you put pressure on the knot, you are limiting blood flow and when you release the pressure, more blood flows in. This increased blood flow can help the muscle relax.
Use self-massage tools. Sometimes your hand just is not sufficient for working out a muscle knot, especially when it is in a hard-to-reach spot. The Z Smart Massage Gun can easily target any areathat needs some deep tissue relief, including your neck, lower back, upper back, chest, arms, glutes, calves, hamstrings, IT band, and abductors. Adjust the intensity as needed as you work the massage gun into the muscles and joints around your body.
Another ideal tool for shoulder knots is the Zarifa neck & shoulder massager with heat. It has three intensity levels that are crafted with your pain and tightness symptoms in mind. This innovative neck and shoulder massager targets sore shoulders and relieves neck spasms and can also tackle lower back pain with the all-in-one neck massager for chair.
The multiple intensity levels allow you to tailor your massage experience to the different muscles of your body. Gently apply pressure to the affected area and experience deep levels of massage rolling. Bring the benefits of myofascial release to your legs without the discomfort of a cold, metal instrument or an awkward foam roller.
Dehydration is a common cause of muscle knots. Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. It is important to drink more water before and after workouts to prevent new muscle knots from forming.
Remember that coffee, tea, and alcohol are diuretics (meaning they cause you to lose fluid) and can make dehydration worse.
Hot and cold therapy
It may be time to get out the ice and heat packs. Typically, cold compresses help to reduce swelling right after an injury has occurred. Heat works to relax and loosen stiff muscles, as well as promote increased blood flow. You can try one or the other or even alternate between both hot and cold.
Make stretching a regular habit. Stretching helps loosen up the muscles and get your blood flowing. Stretching improves your flexibility and can help prevent knot formation.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.
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