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2017-02-17 / Massage for Your Health

Anatomy of a knotted muscle

By Susan Santi
HTF Columnist

Have you ever been asked something and were surprised that you didn’t know the answer? For me the question was, “What is a knot?” It’s a good question and I have always just assumed that anyone who has experienced a knot in their body knew what a knot was. So this question got me thinking that not everyone understands what a knot is, so I’ll try to explain it.

The Webster dictionary gives several different definitions because the word knot has different meanings. I used their definition having to do with the body to help describe how I am referring to the word “knot.” Webster states it is “a protuberant lump or swelling in a tissue.” That is an okay definition but here’s my definition that goes into more detail.

I believe the cause of a knot will explain quite a bit since there are several ways it can happen. Many times, stressful situations can cause tight muscles. A person can be injured and the body goes into a holding pattern, protecting itself; whether the cause is a car accident, a sports injury, or slipping on the ice. Repetitive movement will also cause muscles to tighten. Knots develop when muscles tighten and forget to release and return to a state of relaxation. They hold a tense position within the muscle, thus producing knots. Knots can restrict movement causing pain and sometimes spasms within the muscle when the muscle is being asked to go through the range of motion.

This is where massage comes in to help that muscle to release the knot and let the tension go. It always amazes me what the power of touch can do for someone in pain from muscle knots.

I recently worked on a gentleman who has a terminal disease and who I imagine is a bit stressed. I had just started the massage and in the first 30 seconds he said, “Oh, I already know I am going to like this.” His body was already responding to letting the tension go. It wasn’t just physically affecting him but also mentally, as it does with many who receive massage; they both are inexplicably linked.

Another client, who wears a prosthesis due to a missing limb, came to see me to get rid of a nasty knot due to the annoyance the prosthesis was causing to his body. It did take many visits before that knot was worked out. The physical aspect of massage encourages a tightly knotted muscle to release and go into a state of relaxation. As the body begins to relax, so does the mind, bringing in a full sense of relaxation.

A knotted muscle can usually be worked out with massage. Many times it can take more than one session, especially if the knot has been there for a while. If it is a relatively new knot, then one or two sessions may be all that is needed. So, if you do have an annoying knot, you might want to get a massage.

Susan Santi is a certified massage therapist and owner of Ahhh Massage in Virginia, MN. Feel free to contact her with questions at 218-410-2144.

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