What is a knot? Why do I have them? How does massage help?
As a professional massage therapist one of the most common questions we get asked is "What is that?" Meaning, what is that lump you continue to press on and why is it there? Essentially, a "knot" or "trigger point" is a tight ball of muscle fiber that won't relax. These pesky knots can limit our range of motion, cause us pain, discomfort, and can add to our everyday stress.
Try not to think of a knot as a "knot" in the traditional sense, but think of it as a muscle in spasm. When we use our muscles to create an action it can be compared to a light switch that turns on and off. The muscles contract during exertion (on) and then when that action is complete they quit firing (off). Sometimes when our muscles are overworked, fatigued, or injured they forget how to turn off, and create a spasm. Individual fibers in the muscle constrict and pull from both sides creating a taught band of muscle, also known as a "knot".
So how can massage therapy help with these so called, "knots"? To keep it simple, there are two basic ways that massage can help. The first is that the primary response to touch is activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the rest and digest part of the nervous system. During your massage session your body will begin to relax and the more comfortable that you are in the environment and with the therapist, the more that you can allow the powerful parasympathetic system to relax your body. The second way that massage helps is less dependent on the ability of your massage therapist to make you feel at ease and more directly related to the amount of skill and training that they have. There are many types of techniques and modalities that can be effective at releasing trigger points and it is the experienced therapist who knows what can be most helpful and when to use them.
A healthy muscle is strong and supple. Massage increases circulation, improves lymph flow and decreases muscular knots. All of these things in turn create a more relaxed, more mobile, happier you.