Knots are also medically known as “myofascial trigger points”. The question we all want to ask is: how do they get there? Several theories have been put forth as to why they develop, but as the years have gone by researcher seem to have agreed on an explanation.

Calcium seems to play a big part in causing muscle knots. When you want to move a muscle, an electrical signal is sent from the brain, and a small amount of calcium is released into the muscle. If a muscle fibre is slightly damaged, all of the calcium may not leave the muscle as it should after a muscle contraction, resulting in a minute calcium deposit being left behind in the muscle. This will cause the muscle to contract, albeit a mini contraction. However, this sometimes rather strong minuscule contraction will pull on the muscle fibres causing tight little bands to form on either side. This is what causes the knot.

An active knot (myofascial trigger point).

This type of muscle knot is easily identified as it will cause pain or tenderness, restricted movement or even weakness in the muscle affected. This is also the type of knot which will refer pain to other areas of the body. These muscle knots are also known as trigger points. You can find a clever interactive chart showing the specific trigger points and associated referral pain areas here. 

An inactive knot (myofascial trigger point).

This is a slightly more elusive type of muscle knot. Usually it will not be noticed until it is touched or poked. These types of muscle knots are pretty common, and can easily be activated by a bout of flu or head cold. They can also be activated by referral pain from another knot.

Find out what types of behaviour causes these muscle knots and how to treat them next.