Anyone who has ever had sore muscles may have described it to others as a muscle knot. Of course, this expression is a figure of speech since muscles don’t really tie themselves in knots. To understand how this type of pain happens, a person first needs to know how muscle tissue functions. Every muscle has fibers that run in multiple directions in the body. They are layered one on top of the other. Muscle fibers allow people to do things like bend, dance, and twist.
Injury, dehydration, and hours of physical inactivity can cause muscle fibers to lose flexibility and mobility. They stick to each other and feel hard and lumpy to the touch. This is likely why people started calling this problem a muscle knot in the first place. Muscle knots are common, but that doesn’t mean people should ignore them since untreated muscle pain can cause permanent injury. Fortunately, many home and professional remedies to treat muscle knots exist.
Most Common Locations for Muscle Knots
Although people can get muscle knots at any location on the body, they tend to be more common in certain areas. These include:
- Gluteus maximum, medius, or minimus: These are the muscles of the rear end. Not only can they knot up, but the pain can cause a noticeable limp.
- Latissimus dorsi and erector spinae: These two muscles are in the lower back.
- Semispinalis capiti: These muscles line the base of the skull. Prolonged muscle aggravation can cause fatigue and migraine headaches.
- Trapezius: This large muscle starts at the base of the neck and runs between the shoulder blades.
While these muscle pains are certainly uncomfortable, the upside is that pain usually disappears quickly with prompt treatment.
How to Treat Muscle Knots
Applying heat to a sore area helps to improve the flow of blood and allows the sufferer to relax. Depending on the location of the muscle knot, a hot shower can work wonders. Placing a hot pack on the muscle knot is useful as well. It’s just important to place a towel between the skin and hot pack to avoid an accidental burn. People with muscle knots can use this remedy up to five times a day. Other possible solutions include:
- Stretching the affected muscles for up to one hour per day.
- Alternating heat and cold packs every 10 minutes, starting and ending with cold.
- The occasional professional massage can treat as well as prevent muscle knots.
- Visit a chiropractor who uses the active release technique (ART) for pain relief.
Preventing Muscle Knots
Prevention is always better than a cure, and this starts with eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated. Fast food, processed food, and drinks with a lot of sugar, caffeine, or alcohol can all dehydrate. Getting plenty of exercise and taking frequent breaks from a desk job can also keep the need to treat muscle knots away. Finally, people prone to muscle knots should be certain to get plenty of rest and reduce the stress in their lives as much as possible.