Having a knot in a muscle can cause a lot of pain. Most everyone has suffered with them at some point. They can produce a burning sensation, or a constant, localized sharp pain within a muscle (as opposed to joint pain). Some people have them treated immediately and some never do, living in pain for years. Which is too bad, because muscle knots can be very treatable. Relief can be experienced in even just one massage therapy session.
What is a knot? I hear this question more than any other question. “Knots” are called “trigger points” in the massage business. Skeletal muscles work because of muscle fibers. Basically, these fibers are long cylinders that slide alongside other muscle fibers. When they contract, they create movement. There is not a general consensus of what trigger points are. What is known is that trigger points are hard, generally painful spots in muscles. There can be many trigger points in one muscle, and can be caused by many things: posture, accident injury, prolonged sitting, carrying a heavy bag, overuse, underuse, etc., etc.
There is a long held theory that lactic acid is to blame for muscle soreness, and that massage therapy helps relieve muscles by pushing the lactic acid from the muscles, but this theory has been scientifically disproved.
So why does massage therapy work?
Think of massage therapy as breaking up a traffic jam, by helping the muscle fibers efficiently do what they’re supposed to do. On a cellular level, massaging a trigger point helps with mitochondrial formation, which helps with cell growth and recovery, and energy production. Massage also helps reduce inflammation.
Trigger point therapy may not be very comfortable, because pressure is applied directly to the trigger point, with as much pressure as the client will allow, for a prolonged period of time (think seconds, not minutes). You know when you step on wet sand at the beach, and there’s a halo of dry sand around your foot, and when you release the step, the sand where your foot was is instantly filled with water and is a little wobbly? This is kind of what happens when the massage pressure is taken up. Blood, oxygen, and nutrients fill the space, helping to break up the “traffic jam”.
I have found trigger point therapy to be tremendously effective in relieving pain and helping to increase range of motion. Even better, trigger point therapy can provide some immediate relief. We may not be able to “fix” a problem in only one session, but quite often people feel a lot better. It can take a trigger point a few days to soften up completely, and in a few sessions, lasting relief can be achieved.
Check out Andreas Bio page and our massage page for more information. Call the office to make an appointment (801)486-1818.