What are muscle knots and how do you get rid of them? © Getty Images

What are muscle knots and how do you get rid of them?

Myofascial trigger points are knot fun at all. Their cause is controversial, their definition ambiguous, and their cure non-existent.

Asked by: Dan Forster, Leeds

Advertisement

Muscle knots, or ‘myofascial trigger points’, are painful, lumpy regions of tense muscle. Their cause is somewhat controversial, not least because of the lack of an unambiguous definition of the condition. Subjectively, a muscle knot feels like it is somehow locked into a permanent state of contraction, but surgical biopsies of knotted muscle have found unusual protein deposits within the tissue, so it’s possible that the muscle is being prevented from contracting properly by these proteins.

True muscle knots – as opposed to muscles that are simply tense or tired – don’t respond that well to treatment. Hot pads, cold pads, stretching, massage and acupuncture are all suggested as possible ways to manage the pain, but there isn’t much evidence for a permanent cure.

Read more:


Advertisement

Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.