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What are Muscle Knots and How can You Treat Them?

Everything you need to know about muscle knots.

What are Muscle Knots and How can You Treat Them?

Learn about muscle knots so that you can prevent them happening to you or know how to treat them if they do affect you.

What are Muscle Knots?

“Knots are small, bump-like areas of muscle that can be painful to the touch. The medical term for muscle knots is myofascial trigger points.

These knots occur when muscle fibers or the bands of tissue called fascia underneath them tense and tighten. Doctors classify trigger points as either active or latent.”

muscle knotsSource: Stevie D Photography

What are Muscle Knots Caused By?

According to Chiropractic, “Knots, also known as myofascial trigger points, are complex and have a variety of possible causes.

There is a lot more research to be conducted on the matter, but the best available evidence suggests that muscle knots are the result of overuse such as heavy lifting or repetitive activities.”

Other causes may include:

  • Psychological stress
  • Poor ergonomics
  • Bad posture
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Joint problems

“Muscle fibres are made to move – contract and relax – lengthen and shorten,” says Dr. Adrian Chow, DC. “However, when we sit at the computer all day, with very little movement in between, these muscle fibres begin to stick to each other, forming a knot. Bad posture also puts stress on our muscles, and with enough time, this stress can cause the formation of scar tissue.”

How can you Treat Knots?

There are numerous ways to treat knots. The best place to start is by consulting a professional.

Additionally, try these methods from Heathline


“Allow your body to rest if you have muscle knots. Take a break from any activities that are causing the knots, or that increase your pain or discomfort.

Dedicate as much time as possible to relaxation. This may include sleeping longer than usual or lying in a comfortable position using pillows to support your body.


Gentle stretching that elongates your muscles can help you to release tension in your body. Be gentle with yourself while stretching. Don’t force yourself into any positions or do anything that causes pain.

For best results, hold stretches for at least 30 seconds, and release the stretch slowly to reduce your risk for injury


Aerobic exercise may help to relieve muscle knots. If the knots are in your shoulders or neck, do jumping jacks, swimming, and any other arm movements that work the muscles in your shoulders and neck.

This stretches the muscles and increases their blood supply. Increased blood supply helps filters out toxins.

Hot and cold therapy

Using a combination of heat and cold can help to relieve pain and inflammation due to muscle knots.

Cold helps to constrict the blood vessel, which reduces swelling. To apply cold, use a cold compress for 10 minutes, and then remove it for at least 15 minutes. You can repeat this until you begin to find relief.

Heat relaxes and loosens stiff muscles, and relieves pain. Heat may increase blood flow, which promotes healing. To apply heat, use a heating pad or take a warm bath.

Alternate between cold and heat treatment, or use the one that works best for you. Hot and cold therapy should be used in conjunction with other therapies.”

Muscle Knots in Neck

While muscle knots can form anywhere in your body, your neck is one of the most common spots. A knot can affect most parts of your neck, including the:

  • Base of your skull
  • Back of your neck
  • Side of your neck

“If you have a knot in your neck, it means some of the muscle fibers in your neck are continually contracting. This can cause neck pain that feels dull, achy, or sharp. The pain might occur at the knot or in a nearby area, like your shoulder or arm.”

Other symptoms of a knot in your neck often include:

A hard, sensitive bump

  • Tenderness
  • Tightness
  • Headaches

Muscle Knots in Legs

A muscle knot feels tight and sore, and it often occurs in the upper back or legs.

They’re not usually harmful, but they can certainly be uncomfortable. In rare cases, muscle knots are a sign of a long-term (or chronic) pain condition.

Muscle Knots in Arm and Hands

Pain in the arm and hand may be caused by a number of different muscles, primarily those that attach directly to the neck, shoulder, back and even the chest.

Muscle knots in these muscles can refer pain locally around the upper arm, forearm and elbow, while other muscle knots can refer pain to the wrist and hand as well as other parts of the body.

Muscle Knots in Lower Back

Muscle knots (or myofascial trigger points) are muscle fibres that stick to each other instead of remaining flexible, which causes them to contract and tighten into lumps. These knots can form anywhere but are most common around your lower back.

When your body develops muscle knots, it’s usually a sign that a specific muscle group has been stressed so much that it transforms into a trigger point. These hard yet sensitive knots can be painful and uncomfortable to the touch, even if you aren’t doing anything.

Muscle Knots

Learn more about your body with this article on scraping muscles.

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