Trigger points vs. Muscle knots

Posted: 25/02/2018 in English, Interesting Articles, Science and stuff

After a very long silent period I am posting again. 🙂

Let’s talk about trigger points and muscle knots. A client of mine asked me about the difference. The simple difference is that a trigger point is a painful muscle knot. Knots are at least partially responsible for as much as 75% of muscle pain.

Symptoms can range from intolerable pain caused by “active” trigger points, to painless restriction of movement and distortion of posture from “latent” trigger points.

Trigger points are areas (from a pinhead size to perhaps the size of your thumb) of painfully contracted muscle tissue.  The big problem starts when this knot tightens then it creates a small muscle spasm that causes pain. This pain causes you to tighten up to protect the painful area. The result can be a new knot and more pain.

Trigger points can be the result of injury, overworking a muscle or postural stress and strain like sitting in a less than ideal position for long periods.  Anxiety, emotional stress, inflammation, environmental toxins, and allergies may also play a part.

Muscle Knots and Referred Pain

Knots often cause referred pain so they are tricky to pinpoint. Referred pain means the pain is felt not at the point of the knot, but elsewhere in the body. E.g. if you find a knot in your upper trapezius and put pressure on it you may feel pain in your head. Or pain in your leg could be the result of a trigger point in the lower back.

This tendency to cause referred pain is one of the things that make trigger points so maddening.

Massage therapists and physical therapists know the most effective way to release the contraction of a trigger point is deep, continuous pressure. But if you’re bothered with frequent shoulder pain, for example, that you suspect may be caused by a painful knot, repeated visits to a therapist are not always practical.

Self treatment

In my point of view and personal experience self treatment is always a temporary solution of prevention. If you train with weights you have bigger chance to develop knots and trigger points despite lots of SMR (self myofascial release) so you need to see a professional therapist e.g sport massage therapist maybe once in a month. Of course, it depends on your condition.

The next post will be about the SMR tools.

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