Well LITERALLY no! Your muscles are attached on both ends so it can’t tie itself round itself! There are a few theories that are based on scientific research, you may have heard of trigger points, which are one of the theories.
In my experience when I find a ‘knot’ in muscle that appears to be randomly placed it isn’t as random as I used to think. When I follow that muscle to each end I usually find that the whole of the muscle is taut/solid, it feels like a knot because other muscles are overlapping it that may be softer. It gives the appearance and sensation that it is an isolated knot… but its not… (I couldn’t resist).
I’ve said before – a muscle gets tight because another muscle that supports the same joint is not working properly. So the tight muscle is tight because its working really hard. No amount of stretching or ‘releasing’ is going to change that. and in fact, if you do actually manage to ‘release’ it you’ll be in a lot more trouble because there will be even less supporting that joint!
That is why you feel like you have knots in your shoulders, neck, lower back, hips and even thighs – because they are large muscles and/or they are supporting an important joint or joints. This is why it is more common for a physiotherapist or sports therapist – including us – to give you exercises to go along with your treatment. We can rub your sore muscles all day and all night but if you don’t correct the faulty pattern in the first place then those ‘knots’ are going to give you bother over and over.
There are some exceptions to this but I’ll save that for another email – otherwise this will take you all day to read!
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger Points are said to be taut spots within the muscle – rather than the whole muscle being tight. Your muscle fibres are sectioned up(microscopically) so that they are able to contract. It is believed that the fibres get stuck together, have less blood flow, therefore less oxygen, therefore less capacity to heal and contract as normal. It becomes a vicious circle. It’s a bit like putting lots of product on your hair to hold it still, then trying to comb it through the next day – all the hairs are stuck together with product. So you shampoo your hair to clean out the product so you can comb it again. A massage is like shampooing your muscles. The pressure we apply – depth and direction is important – is so that we can increase blood flow to where we are working (the knot), this increases the oxygen to the muscle, so it heals quicker, so it can contract better, healthy cycle!
All muscles respond to direction from your nervous system. If your brain is telling a muscle to contract it will e.g. if a joint is unstable you brain will recruit any muscles it needs to to keep the joint stable. Another method of working with Trigger Points is to apply pressure to the tight spot to ‘confuse your brain’ and encourage it to stop the tightening effect. It may have had misdirection though trauma (try not to fall over in your high heels this Christmas 😉 ) and unless the surrounding muscles are re-educated to contract when they should, and the Trigger Points are encouraged to calm down and have a chance to be re-oxygenated, you may still get pain in joints and muscles that appear to come from ‘Knots’.
And that – in a nutshell – is what I do for a living! It is also why I set the studio up. I wanted an opportunity to educate people about their bodies, remove fear of joint pain (especially back pain) and help them self manage aches, pains and posture.
If you know someone who we could help via any one of our services please let us know. A referral is the highest form of flattery. I love my job, I hope you enjoy it too!