The term “knot” is often thrown around to describe the feeling of a tight spot of muscle. But what actually is a knot? And how do you fix it?

Knots Exposed

What most people would refer to as a knot, is actually called a trigger point. Basically it’s a painful and hyper-irritable part of a muscle. Felt as a hard lump within the muscle body, trigger points refer pain locally and/or elsewhere when compressed.

With many different theories of what causes trigger points, most agree on a few key points. Muscles that are weak and/or over used are the most vulnerable to trigger point development. As the muscle fibers are foced into unsustainable contraction, groups of muscle fibers will remain tense, resulting in a juicy new trigger point for your therapist to dig into. Other causes include sudden impact, emotional stress and direct trauma.

Most trigger points will share similar “referral patterns” from one person to the next. A referral pattern is a predictable series of common areas a trigger point refers pain to – often away from the point itself. Popular points are those through various muscles in the neck, referring headaches and neck pain in desk workers.

How To Kick Some Trigger Point Butt

Your trigger points are most easily resolved by holding direct pressure, which limits oxygen to fibers and hopefully results in a release and return to normal function. The spot and any associated referral patterns will hurt until released, but then leave you with a great feeling of relief.

This is dead simple in theory, but in practice, things can get a little more difficult. For example; if your trigger points have developed over many years of bad posture, these patterns will not give up without a fight. Your therapist may have to continue treating points and work with you to make suitable postural or habit changes until your long-held patterns are fully rehabilitated into a more healthy function.

Make sure you see a therapist who works toward long term relief rather than just a quick fix solution.

Becoming A Trigger Point Master

Trigger point therapy is an easy addition to anyone’s muscle maintenance program. There’s a wealth of information available online and in books for those wanting to use trigger pointing themselves for pain relief or muscle maintenance. This can be overwhelming however, so consult with a knowledgeable bodywork therapist which trigger points would be most beneficial for you to work on.