What Are Muscle Knots and Why Do They Occur?

An image displaying a twisted rope knot

When we visit workplaces to deliver chair massage one of the questions we’re asked the most is “What exactly is a knot?”. So many people will say “my back is full of knots” or “I have a knot in my shoulder” but our answer will surprise you…

There’s no such thing as a muscle knot in your back, shoulder or wherever!

If you can reach the point on yourself, you may feel a lumpy, crunchy area, and with some massage we can ease these away, so what is it really?

A little refresher on muscles

If you think about it, muscles literally can’t get knotted – They are attached at both ends to bones via tendons. For instance, your bicep is attached from your shoulder and into your forearm, so when it contacts your forearm moves.

Muscles lie alongside other muscles (and other tissues) and very often different muscles lie in sheets over each other and criss-cross one another to give you all the movements we enjoy.

“Knots” are actually adhesions

Adhesions are where muscle becomes “stuck” to other tissues (muscle/bones/ligaments/tendons) nearby, or the fibres within a muscle can bunch up and stick to each other. This limits the full movement that you should have, plus giving you an ache, sharp stabbing pain or burning sensation.

What causes adhesions?

Modern life is almost perfect for creating adhesions – Sitting or standing for long periods of time in the same posture (think desk-work, working on a production line, commuting and slumping on the sofa) means muscles don’t get to move enough…

Once muscles stop moving regularly, they begin to stick. When you’re not moving the amount of blood flow to these areas also drops – the toxic by-products of the muscles don’t get transported away as effectively and less blood flow means less fluids reach the muscle.

Not drinking enough fluids, only drinking caffeinated drinks and too much salt in our food really adds to the dehydration too!

How does massage help?

Put simply, we undo all the problems described above – We warm up your muscles which increases blood flow, then with varying levels of pressure we encourage your adhesions to unstick… There are many techniques we use for this – movement, friction and sustained pressure directly onto the points that need it.  You should never be in what we call “ugly pain”, but you might experience that special kind of pain that actually feels good!

How to avoid muscle “knots”

As with everything, prevention is better than cure!  Our suggestions are simple but to be effective you have to actually do them.

  • Change your position regularly – Don’t sit for long periods of time. Stand up when you answer your phone. Walk over to speak with a colleague instead of sending a message.  Try a walking meeting if it’s one-to-one.
  • Stretch – It doesn’t have to be rocket-science stretching – Just in ways that feel good.  Use movements that stay within your comfort zone and let your body sink into the stretch for as long as you like – there’s no need to aggressively push yourself!
  • Hydrate – Keep a glass or bottle of water on your desk. If you enjoy hot drinks, choose decaf where possible. Avoid caffeine-heavy soft drinks like cola or Red Bull.  If you don’t need the loo every hour, you’re likely becoming dehydrated.
  • Exercise – No spandex needed!  Whether it’s a walk around the block at lunch, cycling to work, or something more demanding, make sure you get in tune with your body once a day.  It’s the best way to manage your weight and maintain a better mood, and it’s free!
  • Massage! As little as 15 minutes is enough for us to loosen you up, iron out that tension and leaving you feeling refreshed and energised.  Little and often is better than a 90-minute session once every few months.

Here at Boost Wellbeing – Hands On Health UK, we offer Clothed, Seated Massage, Yoga & fitness classes plus other workshops on Musculo-Skeletal Health so why not drop us a line to see how we can help you.

Boost Wellbeing – Hands on Health UK is an expert, therapist-led organisation helping your business to be more energetic, happy and productive.

Want to know more about how we can make your office a happy and healthy place to be? Call on 0800 368 9079, or email hello@boostwellbeing.co.uk

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