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Knots: What are they? (And how to get rid of them)

Updated: Apr 26

Many of us use the term 'knots' to describe an overworked muscle that becomes a source of tension in a local area of the body. The feeling is like a pea under the skin and when pressed feels tender. These knots can be exacerbated by toxins (cell waste products) that build up over time often then going on to cause 'referred pain' to other parts of the body. 'Lactic acid' is said to be the cause of a knot but this is not completely founded: it is true to the degree that this substance is a chemical by product in the body released through anaerobic perspiration (strenuous exercise), so when you don't stretch yourself afterwards, your muscles become tired and achey. Yet, knots can still be built up from bad posture and sleeping badly.


So what can we do about knots?


Massage is not everyone's first point of call often until things get desperate. There are other things we can do to help ease these knots in the meantime. To give you some background, massage and 'trigger points' are based on the idea that by using 'ischemic compression' (a fancy term for cutting off blood supply) to the localised area of a muscle, the body is prompted to the area to repair itself. Much like in exercise we need to make muscles sore to then allow them to heal stronger and better. So, you can do this yourself for example by using a tennis ball against your back on the wall and rolling it up and down as you bend.


Currently the wellbeing industry is booming. Several pieces of equipment, each with similar aims are now on the market to help sports people recover faster and relieve muscle tension. One such product is the massage gun, of which I have a Theragun in my possession and believe is the best one to buy. There are also 'AchedAway' Infared Devices which suck the skin like any other cupping device but without the aid of a therapist to do it for you. Despite the successes of these new breakthrough devices, it is not possible to replicate the massage experience.


Taking a bath with lavender and magnesium can only go far to aid seriously tensed up muscles, but it's certainly a start. Heat or cold therapy can work but the results are slower to see in a short space of time which is why massage therapy is the right choice to make when it starts to affect your body and performance negatively. By pushing on these knots and points in the body with firm pressure and repeatedly, it breaks down the contracted area and then begins to heal itself like magic.


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