Cause and Solution: Part 1, muscle knots

Your back is tight or there’s a kink in your neck and when you instinctively reach up to rub it, you feel a knot. This tight ball of tension, feels like it may never let go. What’s worse? You don’t even know how it got there in first place. So what causes these knots and more to the point, how can you get rid of them?

Although there are many theories as to why your muscle may knot up, (including micro tears, debris build-up and lactic acid build-up) none has been proven, definitively, to be the answer. What has become clear, however, is that it’s not just excessive exercise but also lack of movement, that can cause a muscle to knot up. Muscles need movement in order to “milk” fluid and toxin build-up. In our ever-increasingly static society, where we spend most of our time in sedentary activities, our muscles cannot squeeze that build-up out.

In order to understand why muscles knot from inactivity, you must first understand how muscles work. Muscle fibers are very organized and fit into each other in tight formations. When you flex a muscle, you shorten the fibers and when you relax, they move back to a relaxed position, wringing out toxins along the way. When you’re body is still or stagnant for long periods of time, the lack of movement prohibits your muscles from expressing, helping to flush toxins out into the cell spaces, where the lymph ( a colorless fluid containing white blood cells, that bathes the tissues and drains through the lymphatic system into the bloodstream) can pick them up and drain them out of the muscle. By inhibiting this process, these toxins and debris build-up in the tissue, creating a feeling that is tight and knotted.

When you feel tension or knotting of the muscle fibers, there are many things you can do to help yourself:

  • Movement — exercise is integral to good muscle and overall health.
  • Get a massage — having bodywork helps the muscles to release the toxins and relax. Once the knot has formed, if you do nothing to aid your muscles in relaxing, they will just continue accumulating toxins, making the knot bigger and more painful.
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