Asked by: Dan Forster, Leeds
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.