Causes Of Muscle Knots
You’ve probably heard the phrase “you’ve got a knot in your muscle” many times, but do you actually know what has caused it? This article should help explain the processes that lead to this problem.
A “knot” or Trigger Point as they are correctly called, can be an extremely painful problem and can occur within any muscle. Usually they are diagnosed by a therapist feeling the muscle looking for a “knot” or a collection of taught bands of muscle fibres. Trigger points usually are painful to touch and can refer pain to other areas, however sometimes they can be ‘latent’ meaning they are present but not painful.
For a trigger point to occur the muscle fibres themselves have been contracted in a sub-standard way. This can occur because of:
- A sudden increase in load (eg lifting something heavier than usual)
- Sustained positions where the muscle is contracted (eg sleeping awkwardly)
- Poor eccentric control (lengthening) of the muscle (i.e. the muscle is weak)
- Repetitive muscle contractions in a deconditioned muscle
This triggers a chemical reaction. Initially the blood vessels narrow which limits blood flow and therefore oxygen to muscle which injuries it. It also causes the pH (or acidity) to increase. As a result chemicals flood into the muscle which sets of ‘nociceptors’ (these are little receptors that send messages to the brain which creates the pain we feel). At the same time our ‘sympathetic nervous system’ is triggered (this controls the amount of adrenaline we release)
These processes combined then lead to different set of chemicals to be released which increases the number of contractions of muscle fibres in the area. Meaning the fibres are constantly contracting and create this area of ‘taught bands’ or ‘knot’ that we feel and cause pain.