What is a knot anyway?

Posted by on Feb 13, 2012 in FAQ | No Comments


This is a very basic explanation.  Our bodies are absolutely fascinating and I encourage you to learn more on your own.

Our muscles are actually made up of thousands of little fibers that have the distinct ability to shorten. When we go to engage in a physical task our brain recruits the number of cells it thinks should contract in order to accomplish the movement or work. For example, you would recruit fewer cells to pick up a feather than you would to pick up a brick.

To get these cells to actually shorten is an immensely complicated process that is achieved in a split second. Due to this complexity problems may happen. Sometimes it is due to an injury to the muscle tissue, a repetitive workload, or poor posture or ergonomics.  In actuality it is usually a combination of all of these situations for most of us.  Dehydration and nutrition also play their part.

The cells need energy to both contract (shorten) and relax (lengthen). Because of the aforementioned problems, some of these cells run out of juice while in a contracted state.  When the cells are contracted they are essentially larger, which takes up the surrounding space where the capillaries (smallest of blood vessels) and nerve endings live.  This cuts down the circulation in the area, both decreasing the contracted cells chance of releasing, and causing surrounding cells to “lock up.”  This clump of thick and ridged cells is what we commonly call a knot.  The circulation is not the only thing that is suffering here.  The nerve endings are also starting to get over stimulated and irritated.  Because they are hypersensitive they start to cause pain.

Lets zoom back out to a larger picture.  Imagine that a sheet tied to both bones represents your bicep.  The sheet, or muscle, is long and in a relaxed position.  Now to take the word “knot” literally, we will tie one into the sheet.  Notice that the sheet is now shorter.  Then as more dysfunction happens in the muscle, or sheet, we will tie a few more knots.  Now the sheet is getting shorter, inflexible and inefficient.  When the over all muscle is tighter and more ridged it is then more susceptible to injury.  This tightness and rigidity also will affect how we move and function, possibly causing other parts of the body to experience dysfunction.

Now that you know what knots are what can you do?

The easiest thing is to get more water into your system.  Compare a juicy uncooked steak to a piece of beef jerky. Extreme example but you get what I mean.  Which do want in your body?

Exercise and movement help.  Getting some circulation flowing might just get some of the cells what they need to release.

Massage.  It is really just the way we are made.  Nothing relives knots and the pain like massage.  Be sure to read: “How does massage help manage knots?”

Learning to manage your stress will also help.  When stressed we sometime contract certain muscles leading them to decreased circulation and knots.  Also, when we are under stress the body is in hyper-drive and some body functions are put on the back burner so to speak. This leads our whole system to dysfunction down the line.

Coming soon…

How does massage help manage knots?

What’s a trigger point?

Dealing with Stress