If you’re a regular to massage, the concept of a muscle knot is probably something you’re well aware of, but what are they exactly? And what’s the relationship between a muscle knot and a trigger point?
What's a Trigger Point?
Trigger points are simply tender spots on your body that ‘trigger’ or cause discomfort. These tender spots are common and many of us have them, but for some people they can become really troublesome. They are common in hot-spots like shoulders and neck, but they can crop up just about anywhere and in some people, they can cause a lot of pain.
A trigger point is like a ‘knot’ in your muscle, or the fascia (the thin wrapping around each muscle) which is why they are often referred to as a muscle knot. To a massage therapist it feels like a hard contraction on the on the muscle fibers connected to it, like a tight band around the muscle. Trigger points in muscles are ‘myofascial trigger points’ – and there are other types of trigger point that can occur around the body, on your skin, ligaments and tendons, and on scar tissue.
How can you tell if you have a muscle knot or trigger point?
You’ll be able to tell where your own trigger points are; if you touch them with any kind of pressure you’ll notice they start to hurt, or hurt more. They are often situated close to problem areas for you as well, so if you have back issues, your trigger points are likely to be around your back, neck and shoulders, although this isn’t always the case. The range of sensations you might feel from a trigger point can be quite wide, too; anything from intense pain to a dull, throbbing ache. Some people feel ‘pins and needles’ or numbness.
So, what causes trigger points to flare up? One theory is that they are down to some sort of muscular overload - if you’ve been working out too hard or overdoing it, or just not been taking care of your posture.
How are Trigger Points treated?
If you notice a sore spot and want to see a massage therapist for advice, we’d advise having a word with your medical adviser first just to make sure that any swelling or soreness is just down to muscular stress and nothing more serious.
Once you’ve been checked over, we can start to look at the problem and help you to heal it with massage.
A good massage therapist will be able to work on your trigger points and muscle knots, gently but firmly releasing them. They can also help you with in-between treatment massage techniques to try at home that will ease any discomfort and help to prevent the muscle knots building up again.
Trigger points and tender spots can cause a huge amount of pain and discomfort, often restricting your movement and your ability to do the activities you want to. You don't have to put up with this pain though, with some action on your part you can be pain free!