Breaking Up Muscle Knots and Fascia 

Our structures in our body are super complex and we continue to learn more and more about them as time goes on. They are made up of all kinds of fibers that are meant to be super resilient and strong to withstand the stress you put them through! Fascia, muscle fibers, nerves, tendons etc. are all built differently to do different jobs. Let’s start with those pesky the muscle knots we all have! You press on one spot and it hurts or aches, and sometimes you may not be doing anything and it is stingy. Subsequently, you smash, press, mash, or massage it and it is still not better. That may be because the problem is not a knot in a muscle; and as it turns out, we cannot actually break them up! The same goes for that pesky IT band. We’ll get there in a minute. At the end of the day, your pain and tightness definitely are not made up. But, the reasoning or treatments you have been doing or given may not be founded on the most solid foundation as we continue to learn about the human body. 

Here’s What We Know About Muscle Knots

Since the start of time, injuries have been around. We are creatures meant to move in various ways and with that come the risk of messing something up. With advancement in technology and science we have found that some of the interventions medical professionals, and some rehab professionals, give patients are a little outdated. Solutions to muscle knots are one of those instances. Sometimes these are also referred to as trigger points, tight fascia, etc. What science has shown is that palpating them is not super reliable, that we do not know EXACTLY why they form, and we don’t know if they actually go away. What we do know is that sometimes areas in our body can become sensitized or painful due to injuries somewhere else; this is called referral pain. The easiest example is the “shoulder blade muscle knot.” We see people, determined and fully immersed thinking it’s a muscular issue, but most of the time it is a referral issue from the neck. Or simply overusing a muscle too much can make it sensitized and painful as well, so when you poke it – it hurts. And the more you poke something the more it gets agitated, picture a you poking a beehive once – twice- five times. Something is going to get mad. 

Okay, What About Stretching My IT Band?

Just as the muscle fiber with knots, a lot has been said about the flexibility of the IT band being the root cause of your leg problem. And one of the more common treatments is to stretch it. In 2008, Chaudry and colleagues discovered that in order to stretch your IT band 1% of its length, you would need to produce roughly 2000 pounds of force. I’m sorry, no one is actually the Hulk. The more likely answer that may have solved your problem is, along with that stretch you did some strengthening and modified your activity in some manner. Those two interventions may have provided enough stimulus to create the physical changes elsewhere in your body. The role of the IT band in the body is transmit all the power in your leg, I don’t think stretching something that is supposed to be stiff would be beneficial for its job!

Why Do Professionals Claim To Fix Muscle Knots?

No medical professional recommends interventions with the hopes of not helping. Each profession has its own roles and responsibilities. Understanding the biomechanics, diagnosing injuries and tissue structures of the human body is our job –  meaning the make up and the function of things as small and flimsy as the fascial sheath around your tendon, to the big and strong structure of the vertebrae in your spine. Our job at P3 is to provide the best possible research/evidence based care in order to provide the most efficient care to solve your problem.

If you want to work with Physical Therapists that enjoy learning and are continually seeking the most up to date information in tackling your mechanical impairments, reach out to us for a Free Phone Consultation with one of our docs!

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