Muscle Knots: What Those Tight Little Lumps Are and How can you Reduce Them?

September 10, 2022 10:31 am

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It has been a while since you have been to the gym, but you are determined to “get back in shape.” You complete a tough workout, and your muscles feel a bit tired, but all in all you’re able to go about the rest of your day just fine. The next morning, you wake up and realize the back of your shoulder blade feels stiff. When you rub your shoulder muscles, it feels like you’re prodding a little gumball under your skin. Every time you try to move it around, the area feels tight, with slight pangs of pain.

Over the course of the next few days, your back slowly loosens up and eventually your shoulder returns to feeling normal. It’s probably something you’d like to avoid or minimize in the future, if possible. So what triggered that muscle knot and how can you get rid of them?

What Are Muscle Knots?
The “knots” you feel in your muscle are called myofascial trigger points. Fascia is the thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds the muscle. When your muscle gets damaged, even just a little, it can cause inflammation in the bands of muscle and the fascial layer above. The little bumps are typically tender to the touch and can limit your range of motion or lead to pain during various movements.

Myofascial trigger points tend to develop when a muscle is irritated by a new or more-strenuous-than-usual repetitive motion. You may develop knots in the muscles you stressed the most during a particularly intense day of exercise or an introduction a new movement pattern to your daily workout. For example, adding a couple of days of running to your typical weekly routine of just lifting weights. Since running is a new movement, you may notice some knots in your calves, which you asked to do a lot of new work.

You don’t only develop muscle knots from workouts. Sitting at a desk at day may not be considered strenuous, but if you are consistently hunched over a computer all day, you may notice knots developing in your upper back and shoulders. Holding one position for hours at a time places stress on your muscles. Enter muscle knots.

How Do You Get Rid of Muscle Knots?

It takes time for the muscles to adapt to a new motion or recover from stress. Usually within a week or two a muscle knot will resolve on its own.
You can also help speed the process of recovery. Some options include massages, dry needling and electrical stimulation. The goal of each technique is to decrease the tautness of the fascia and muscle in the area and increase blood flow. More blood passing through provides nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissue, enhancing recovery.

A fairly simple, low-cost way to help alleviate muscle knots is stretching. Stretching may be particularly valuable if you typically sit in an awkward position all day long. Muscles held that way under consistent stress for several hours benefit from being put through different ranges of motion. For example, after sitting for a while, some simple shoulder rolls and neck rotations can alleviate some of the tension in those muscles, helping to avoid or reduce the accumulation of muscle knots.

Another method you can try at home is called self-myofascial release. The idea behind it is the same as massaging, except this method can be done in the comfort of your own home applying as much pressure as you like using a foam roller, rolling device or a tennis ball.

While they can be annoying, muscle knots are nothing to worry about. Remember, being consistent with exercise habits and moving throughout the day can help keep knots from developing in your muscles in the first place. If you do notice muscle knots popping up, simply stretching at the end of the day, or going through some self-myofascial release techniques are simple, effective ways to help alleviate this issue and avoid future problems. And of course, get regular Massage to keep the muscles supple and flexible.

Body & Soul Massage in Salem Ma specializes in Therapeutic Massage for Pain Relief. Ask about our pain relief packages or our monthly Massage Membership plans that will help reduce tension and inflammation in your muscles promoting better blood flow and less knots!
Visit or call 978-825-0040.