Ever rubbed your shoulders after a long day only to feel a huge, bulbous muscle knot under your skin? It can be painful and really uncomfortable to dig into these trigger points, and your daily iPhone habit could be making it worse.
Muscle knots occur in an area after a muscle has been injured. We’re not talking huge injuries here, either. Micro tears can occur in your muscles after repeated improper use, and your muscle tries to repair itself by becoming inflexible and adhering your muscle fibers together. Something as simple as slouching at your desk every day can be the cause of these weird muscular kinks. So being hunched over your iPhone, closely regarding your instagram feed? That could be generating more issues than you think.
Repeated movement patterns, like running or cycling, can cause muscle knots too—as your muscles get tighter and less flexible, your movement patterns can change. This can eventually impede your movement and lead to injury, the opposite of what you want when you’re working on your fitness.
The iliotibial band, or IT band, is a great example of an area that causes pain to a lot of people just because of muscle knots. Running from the outside of your hip down to the outside of your patella, this big tendon gets super tight on most athletes. But if you’re sitting at your desk all day, driving in a car, and lounging on the couch, you might feel muscle knots here too due to lack of muscle tone. Tight IT bands can cause knee, lower back, and hip pain.
Get rid of muscle knots in your IT bands (and everywhere else) by using myofascial release techniques to relax the muscle into submission. Using a foam roller or a small firm ball to apply sustained pressure to the area will trick the muscle into releasing and can give you relief from any pain the muscle knot is giving you. Myofascial release works much like when you get a massage from a pro, except without the hefty expense.
Stop muscle knots from popping up by practicing three healthy habits: hydration, posture, and rolling. Stay hydrated throughout your day to keep your muscles supple. Check in with your posture throughout the day and take breaks from staring down at your computer when you feel your back getting tight, and even though you may not feel a knot cropping up in a stiff spot don’t be afraid to use myofascial release and rolling to prevent muscles from getting tangled. When in doubt, breathe deeply and foam roll!
Illustration by Karley Koenig