Ouch, a knot! Everyone has probably had it happen at some point, whether you play sports or not: A painful spot where the muscles cramp up. Sometimes with a clearly identifiable cause, sometimes spontaneously. These are "trigger points", also called "muscle knots": a painful hardening in muscles that no longer can relax. This can cause pain, as well as a feeling of stiffness or restricted movement.
Fortunately, a trigger point can often be treated at home by massaging it. There are various tools for this. But let's start at the beginning: what is a trigger point and how does it arise?
What are trigger points?A "knot" is caused by muscle fibres at certain points being more contracted when in rest mode than the surrounding muscles. Normally, muscles are neither stretched nor contracted while in rest mode, but in the case of a trigger point, some of the fibres are 'stuck' in a contracted state. Because the muscle tension there is higher than in the surrounding area, the muscle cannot return to its resting state. A local thickening occurs where blood flow is reduced and waste products accumulate.
How to treat trigger points?HDo you suffer from a trigger point? There is no need to run straight to the physiotherapist. A trigger point can often also be treated at home through massaging. Massaging is often recommended instead of stretching. A trigger point is like a knot in a shoelace. If you start pulling on it (stretching), you either loosen it or tighten it...
Of course, you have to ask yourself what causes a trigger point. Is there a clearly identifiable cause, such as a fall? Or is it due to overloading or prolonged incorrect movement? If you don't tackle the chronic cause, you can massage all you want, but in the long or short term that knot in your muscles will simply return.
Massage ballsThe rolling movement of a massage ball also improves the circulation, so that accumulated waste can be discharged more easily. Depending on how deep the pain is, roll the massage ball firmly over the painful spot. This can be a hand movement, but also by 'wedging' the ball between, for example, the wall or the floor and your back, and making rotating movements for places that are difficult for you to reach. It is also wonderfully relaxing after an intensive workout or a long day at the office!
Are you unable to massage away a trigger point yourself or does it keep coming back? Then it is a good idea to visit the physiotherapist. He or she can 'loosen' the knot again and, moreover, look together with you at what causes a trigger point and how you can prevent it from arising in the future.