Muscle knots aka myofascial trigger points (MTPs) are painful small bundles of muscle fibres within a muscle that are unable to properly release and instead remain tight. Simply put, these are actually layers of connective tissues that get stuck together and stop gliding. There is quite a bit of confusion as to what causes knots in muscle, but it is generally believed that it has something to do with the nervous system of the body misfiring, causing the muscles to involuntarily contract and remain bunched up. Only a tiny area of the muscle tissue is affected but the after effects can be anything from mild discomfort to intense pain that can sometimes radiate to other parts of the body.
What Causes Knots in Your Muscle
While the exact cause of the development of contracted taut bands of muscle tissues (knots) is still not clear, it is believed that trauma (physical stress), toxic exposure (chemical stress), tension/anxiety (emotional stress) can lead to this condition.
The most common cause of muscle knots is physical stress. When the muscles are under constant physical stress, such as working out for extended periods, performing repetitive activities, lifting heavy loads, or getting injured, the muscles are unable to receive the required amount of oxygen, hydration, blood flow and other nutrients. In the absence of the required oxygen, minerals, fresh blood and nutrients, the soft tissues just slow down or stop working altogether.
Mental stressors, such as anxiety, panic attack, depression, sadness, fear, anger, jealousy, guilt, shame and frustration are believed to be a co-factor in almost 95% of all disease processes. In fact, prolonged mental stress is linked with:
- hormonal imbalances
- suppressed immune function
- immune-related diseases
- increase susceptibility to infections
Medical experts also believe that prolonged mental stress can also lead to chronic muscle tension – which in turn plays a role in the development of muscle knots. Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ) and tension headaches are the two common medical conditions that are believed to be the result of chronic mental stress and muscle knots.
Dehydration | What Causes Knots In Muscles
For our muscles to function normally, they need to be well lubricated and hydrated at all times. There is a tiny space called “critical interfiber distance” present between muscle fibers, which hold fluid and prevent the muscle fibers from sticking together. When we don’t consume enough water or we drink too much alcohol or coffee, this space “critical interfiber distance” shrinks down and the muscle fibers start to stick to each other.
If you are experiencing physical pain that you think could be caused by knots you can book in with one of our therapists for a session to discuss your issue and see how we can help you.
Melbourne Natural Therapies