Knots, Adhesions, and Trigger Points

As a massage therapist I see all kinds of people: young and old, active and sedentary, and everything in between.  One thing that most of these people have in common is “knots” in their neck, back, and/or shoulders. So what are knots? Why do we all get them and better yet how do we make them go away?

Saying you have a knot in your shoulder is sort of like saying you have tension in your shoulder. We call them knots a lot of the time because they feel like bumps in the muscle, as though the muscle has tied itself into a knot. They often but don’t always cause pain and can be a number of different things. Many of the people I see who are complaining about knots are complaining about trigger points or adhesions.

A trigger point is a term you may hear a lot if you are a massage veteran. Trigger points are tender areas in the body that will radiate pain to another area. For example there is a muscle in the side of the neck called the posterior scalene; when this muscle (as it often does) contains a trigger point it can radiate pain to the scapula (or shoulder blade).

Adhesions are another common cause of muscular pain in the body. The thing about adhesions is that they are more about the fascial system then the muscular system. Adhesions occur when our fascia sticks together. This can be a problem because fascia surrounds every muscle and muscle fiber, and when it sticks together it can make it hard or impossible for muscles to move the way they want to and are supposed to. This can cause a lot of issues beyond where the adhesion is, creating compensation patterns and potentially throwing off our posture and movement.

So what causes them? Because trigger points and adhesions affect most people, it is safe to assume they are caused by a multitude of things. Some of the big offenders are poor posture, lack of movement, or improper movement. Medical conditions such as fibromyalgia can also contribute to developing muscular tension.Nicole massaging a client.

So what can I do about it? There are a few things you can do on your own that will help with both trigger points and adhesions. We expand on most of these in our video library so that you can keep yourself out of pain – why not check it out?

  • Stretch – stretching can help break up adhesions and loosen tension that causes trigger points.
  • Pay attention to proper posture –  By standing, sitting and walking in proper positions we help our bodies to avoid developing tension in the first place.
  • Get a massage. Massage therapy is very good for getting out adhesions, trigger points and all kinds of muscular tension!