Ever wake up in the morning with a noticeably hard knot on your neck, shoulder or back? Nearly everyone will experience a muscle knot such as this at some point in their life. In fact, they are so common that doctors have given them a name: myofascial trigger points. But what exactly causes these myofascial trigger points? And how can you prevent them from reoccurring?
Myofascial trigger points are characterized by groups of muscle fibers constricting in place, creating the sensation that you are tensing your muscle. Typically, this condition also includes minor-to-moderate amounts of pain. You may feel a dull aching sensation originating from the muscle knot or a deeper throbbing sensation depending on the severity of the condition.
Medical practitioners continue to debate over what causes muscle knots, but the general idea is that something happens which triggers the muscle to stop relaxing. The 640+ muscles in the human body operate in one of two states: constricted or relaxed. When you constrict your muscles, they typically revert back to their default state (relaxed). However, there’s some underlying trigger with muscle knots that causes them to remain in a constricted state.
There are some factors which are believed to increase the risk of developing muscle knots, including overexertion. When a particular muscle group is exerted beyond its normal limits, the body may respond by keeping it in the constricted state. Bodybuilders, athletes and people who work in labor-intensive jobs are placed at the highest risk of developing muscle knots due to their increased physical exertion.
There’s no denying the fact that regular exercise is beneficial for your body and can help ward off disease and illness, but using the same muscle groups day after day without giving them ample time to rest could result in a muscle knot. A good rule of thumb is to wait a minimum of 48 hours after working out a group of muscles. This should be enough time for the muscle fibers to repair themselves; thus, reducing the likelihood of a muscle knot.
Another potential cause of muscle knots is direct collision trauma, such as being in an automobile accident. The physical stress of an automobile accident may instantly cause muscle knots in the affected areas. Doctors have also linked various health issues to muscle knots, including infections, respiratory ailments, and smoking.
Going back to the basics of anatomy 101, the central nervous system is responsible for sending electrical signals to the muscles in our body, telling them when to contract. Some medical experts believe muscle knots are the direct result of an imbalanced central nervous system where the brain sends ‘ghost’ signals to the muscles.
So, what’s the best course of action to treat muscle knots? The first step is to accurately identify each and every myofascial trigger point in the body. Once the trigger points are properly identified, a licensed chiropractor can advise you on the best course of treatment to deactivate them. This may include a serious of the therapeutic massages, spinal adjustments, ischemic compression, and stretching exercises.
Call or email the staff at AtlantaChiroAndWellness.com to schedule an appointment.Share