In our many years of massage therapy practice, a couple times each week we see clients who complain of a “knot” in a muscle. The area most often affected by this condition is along the edge of the shoulder blade between the shoulders in mid and upper back. Most clients have rubbed the “knot” themselves or had a trusted acquaintance touch the area verifying its’ existence. “Knots” can be as small as a BB and occasionally as large as a golf ball.
Of course each person interprets pain differently, but some of the common sensations described are as follows: sore when pressure is applied, burns like a hot poker, sharp stabbing pain, low dull throbbing pain, radiating tingling down the arm, grabbing pain in the hip sending pain down the leg etc. The intensity of all these symptoms typically varies throughout the day or night. All of those sound very uncomfortable and very distracting. This condition undeniably reduces the quality of life with reduced range of motion, increased fatigue, and mounted frustration.
In the massage profession we call the “knot” a trigger point. Beyond giving this nuisance a name, I hope to shed a little light on how they develop and how massage therapy can help improve the quality of life for all who experience “knots”.
Let me start off by explaining what a knot is not. A knot is not an accupressure point, and a knot is not a pressure point, nor is it a tender point. A “knot” is a trigger point and a “horse of its’ own color.” Trigger points require firm direct pressure to illicit pain. That pain will have a specific and predictable pattern although the root of the problem is quite often a surprise to the client. A muscle can sometimes have latent trigger points accumulated over a lifetime contributing greatly to lose of range of motion in limbs and overall stiff joints or an “old age feeling.”
Trigger points have a noticeable temperature difference presenting hotter than the surrounding tissue. In most cases, to speak quite southern, “it is hot as a match and hurts like heck.” A trigger point is a small, contracted portion of a muscle; it can feel round like a marble or long like a noodle beneath the skin. This portion of the muscle is unable to release to its normal relaxed state. Often this condition develops post trauma, post extreme fatigue, or after an extended period of repetitive motion. We have treated trigger points of all stages and ages with success. Some clients show up after only a few days of pain, while others have endured years of unexplained and sometimes misdiagnosed discomfort.
The good news is that we can help you! With the use of specific massage techniques associated with neuromuscular and medical massage training, we have the skills to interpret these trigger points. Massage helps primarily because it stimulates circulation to the affected muscle tissue. Firm pressure is applied to assist release of the muscle tissue along with relaxation techniques to enhance overall well being. In my own experience, I have helped clients regain range of motion in the shoulder area while giving them the opportunity to relax and reduce the stress affects on their body.
So what’s in it for you? Reduced pain, increased mobility, and reduced or eliminated stress.
Nancy Shores LMT, Michael Shores LMT