Muscle knots are areas where tense muscle fibres stick to each other, eventually beginning to tear and form scar tissue. Also known as myofascial trigger points, muscle knots can be either active, where they cause pain without any pressure, or latent, where they only hurt when pressure is applied to them.
Knots can develop anywhere in the body where muscles can be found, but they are most common in the neck/shoulder, lower back, calves, and IT band. These are the areas that people still use frequently, although not as much as we would have in the past, and therein lies the problem.
An increasing number of people are spending a major part of their days parked in front of a computer, remaining more or less sedentary throughout the entire day. But or muscles need to be moved and exercised in order to remain pliable and healthy. Spending 8 hours a day more or less in one position, and then going home to sit in a similar position makes our muscles much shorter and easier to injure. Even if you work out or play sports, your muscles are going from not moving for hours to being pulled around suddenly.
If left untreated, muscle knots will only worsen over time, and could even do irreparable damage. The best course of action is to try and prevent them in the first place, which you can do by making sure to move your muscles regularly throughout the day. If you work a desk job, you should get up at least once every hour for about 15 minutes. The best option is actually to take a 17 minute break every 52 minutes, which you can learn more about in our blog on how to prevent tech neck.
If your muscle knots tend to afflict one particular area, massaging and stretching that region is the best way to both prevent knots, and treat existing ones. There are more advanced options such as dry-needling, electrostimulation, and pulsed ultrasound that can be used to encourage movement and deal with more advanced cases, but in the end, prevention and treatment always boils down to keeping those muscles moving.