Following on from our last article, we will take a look at what causes muscle knots to develop.

The number one cause is, as can be expected, muscular overload. Muscular overload is not just the physical strain the muscle is put under, but also the degree of strain placed on the neuromuscular control mechanism. The latter being the weak link in the normal function of the muscle. A malfunction in the neuromuscular system is the primary cause of the development of muscle knots.

So what can cause a muscle overload? Below is a list of the most common causes:

Exertion overload: This happens when the muscle is not strong enough to perform a task. People returning to weight training after a long period of rest or attempting to move the fridge out of the blue, are likely to suffer from exertion overload. A sudden fall can also be a trigger, if the person suddenly uses certain muscles to break the fall which have up until then been unconditioned.

Overuse and repetitive strain: When a muscle is continually used to perform the same task day in and day out, it can often exceed the functional endurance of the muscle leading to pain. The body is not designed to perform repetitive movements but rather to perform tasks using the whole spectrum of muscles available. Tendonitis is also often caused by overuse and repetitive strain.

Postural Overload: When a posture is held for a long period of time, it can lead the muscle to be in an over-stretched or over-shortened state for too long. This will eventually overload the muscle causing muscle pain and knots. Examples of this type of overload are holding the neck to one side in response to a persistent neck cramp or the decline in posture caused by ageing.

Referred Pain Overload: Pain originating in one compromised muscle can often transfer to other healthy muscles in the body.  If this happens the control mechanism of the healthy muscle can become overloaded and new knots can form there.

Which factors can make a muscle susceptible to overload? Below is a list of factors which increase muscle tension, and therefore makes it more likely that knots will develop:

Emotional stress is a common cause of tension in the neck, shoulders, abdomen and buttocks. 

Skeletal abnormalities such as having one leg longer than the other or an asymmetrical pelvic bone. 

Chilling of the muscles, such as when one sits in a draft or under a fan for long periods of time. 

Vitamin deficiency, especially a deficiency in vitamins B1, B6, B12, vitamin C and folic acid. Imbalances in calcium, potassium, and iron can also exacerbate a problem.

Chronic bacterial infections, such as UTIs and sinusitis as well as viral infections such as flu and oral herpes may cause any treatment for muscle pain and knots to be ineffective and should therefore be treated first.

With all that said, remember that our muscles were made for moving. Plenty of walking, exercising and stretching will keep the muscles in their optimal state, and you will be much less likely to experience muscle overload, knots and pain.  

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