‘All Knotted Up’ neck & shoulder muscular tension

We’ve all had the experience of tension in our shoulders only to find the tension radiating from a knot in a particular muscle. These muscle knots are painful to the touch and can feel like someone actually tied our muscles up. But what are they?

Muscles that form knots are muscles that have gone into a muscle spasm either due to injury, overuse, or a sedentary lifestyle, and then have remained “stuck” in that tense state. The knot causes your muscle to remain flexed and unable to relax, which is the reason why they can become so painful.

A “knot” is a place where a muscle has become ‘tight’ for one reason or another. Overwork is the most common cause. That doesn’t mean that ’you’ are working too much–it just means that some of your muscles are! One common cause for muscle knots is a forward-head posture. This posture puts a lot of strain on your upper back muscles.

While many people tend to believe that a muscle knot is most likely due to a “pulled muscle” or an overuse injury, in fact the main causes are from a sedentary lifestyle containing short bursts of activity.

The neck and shoulders are an area that often gets mistreated with tension and pain. This usually stems from too much activity, not enough activity or from spending long hours in a fixed position in front of a computer or television. If you do sit hunched over a computer all day, you train your muscles to behave abnormally, which will make it more difficult to prevent injury when you exercise.

A knot is a clue for you to fix something!

If you have only a few knots, the very best way to encourage them to go away is to massage them briefly several times a day for several days. Massaging these knots can be painful, and you should be exerting targeted force directly on the knots. This helps the inflammation to go down and “trains” your muscles to relax.

If you have numerous or very painful muscle knots, it is advisable to receive a more focused massage using trigger point therapy from a licensed massage therapist.

Periodic muscle knots are inevitable, but if you have a lot of them, there are several things you can do! Potassium and calcium help to prevent muscle knots, and drinking plenty of water can work wonders. Become more mindful of the way you move your body. Avoid hunching over, and if you are at work or studying, take frequent breaks to walk around. Stretch both before and after you exercise, don’t do exercises that are intensely painful. Pain during exercise is an indication that your muscle is tooweak to perform the movement, not that you should “push through” the pain!

Neck stretch

Take your left hand and place it on the right top side of your head. Slowly pull your head down to the left so your ear goes toward your shoulder. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, release and switch sides. This is called “neck lateral flexion.”

Shoulder stretch

This is a shoulder stretch that can be done from a seated or standing position. Extend your right arm across your chest. Wrap your left arm underneath it and bend your elbow. Use your left arm to pull your right arm across the front of your body. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and switch sides.

One thing for sure is that chronic muscular pain is the body’s way of forcing you to take a long hard look at your lifestyle and your belief system. In essence the body is forcing you to change your life.

Annie Moore MCThA, RCCA, ITHMA For free advice or a consultation contact info@vidatherapy.com, T: 020 8614 1199, www.vidatherapy.com

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