Knots, adhesions, trigger points! Oh my Ouch!
“Oooo! What is THAT!?” my client will inevitably say when I encounter a “knot" in a muscle
during a massage session. That question is usually followed by, “How did it get there?" and
“How do we get that to go away?" All good questions to ask.
“Knots" are formed by micro-tears in the individual muscle fibers. Our bodies want to fix that
quickly so instead of lying down perfectly aligned fibers (like they should be) they form a patch,
laying down fibers every which way, forming something like a mesh or birds nest. This
crosshatching of fibers will shorten the muscle, therefore reducing mobility and increasing pain
as the muscle is now tugging on the attachment points. Knots that form in your body’s fascia are
called “adhesions". Your fascia should be able to move. When it is not able to, it sticks and
creates an adhesion. Then there’s the “trigger point”. A trigger point develops much like a knot,
but differs in that it will refer pain to a different part of your body. For instance, a trigger point in
your subocipital muscles (at the base of your skull) will refer pain to the front of your head right
around or behind the eye. Referred pain from trigger points often leads to misdiagnoses. Treating
a headache, perhaps instead of the muscles in your neck.
Some causes of the variation, are trauma, repetitive motion, muscle overuse, poor posture and
emotional stress. Most commonly found in the neck, traps, shoulders and back, but can develop
anywhere in the body. They are also frequently very painful and can lead to a vicious cycle of
pain as the muscles start compensating for each other!
The most effective way to treat all of the above is to start with a professional massage. Your
massage therapist has been trained to identify and treat these problems with specific techniques
designed to straighten the muscle fibers, loosen the adhesions and get oxygen and blood flow to
the area to help your body naturally repair itself. So the answer is yes, they can go away. But
since it likely took many, many years for them to develop, it will most certainly take multiple
massage sessions to gain relief from them. Your massage therapist can also recommend some
self-massage techniques to do at home to help between massages as well as alert you to habits
that contribute to the formation of these knots and what you can do to correct them. So whether it
is a knot, adhesion or trigger point, let us help you so you can help yourself!
Christine Sanese Brett