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Removing muscle knots

Most people are familiar with the pain of muscle knots. The term refers to any issue involving the outer lining of the muscle. Muscle knots occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from injury to bad posture at the computer. Muscle knots can be addressed in several ways. Learn some of the treatments so you can respond effectively the next time pain strikes and minimise the misery.

Hot shower

Before seeking professional care, give the NHS a break by trying a few remedies at home. For instance, a hot shower can relax muscles and reduce tightness. The heat increases blood flow to the area, which can also help relieve pain.

Ice pack

If heat is not effective, try cold. As you might imagine, cold has the opposite effect. It constricts blood flow to the area, which counteracts swelling. The resulting numbness also brings pain relief. If swelling is the source of your pain, this is an effective treatment.

Anti-Inflammatory pain medication

Another way to reduce swelling and pain is with over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication such as ibuprofen, available at your local chemist. This will alleviate pain and swelling fairly quickly. These are treatments and not cures, so they should not be overly relied upon.

Stretching

Gentle stretching can help you work through muscle knots. You probably spend much of your time hunched over a keyboard or a steering wheel with your muscles contracted for hours on end. This can lead to severe tightness. Stretching gives muscles a chance to elongate and relax. Just be sure not to stretch beyond your natural range since this can result in further injury.

Foam rollers

When stretching isn't enough, many people find foam rollers very helpful. They are foam cylinders about 12cm in diameter. By rolling affected muscles over a foam roller when it's on a flat surface, you apply pressure, which can break up muscle knots. Think of a rolling pin flattening out a tough lump of dough; that's what's happening with a foam cylinder and your knotted muscle. Foam rollers are quite inexpensive and can be a great tool in smoothing out muscles and fighting knots.

Rest

Another common cause of muscle knots is overuse. Sometimes it's important to simply rest the muscle to allow healing. Try taking it easy. Getting enough sleep has numerous positive health effects, including keeping muscles healthy. Go easy on tired muscles and get plenty of sleep.

Acupuncture

If none of these remedies is effective, you may need to seek professional help. There is evidence that acupuncture can be highly effective at treating muscle knots. During this procedure, tiny acupuncture needles are inserted at strategic points. This awakens nerves in the area, which can increase blood flow and bring pain relief.

Massage and chiropractic care

A trained chiropractic massage therapist can help to break up troublesome tissue surrounding muscle knots. A chiropractor can also apply what's called a soft tissue mobilisation treatment in which pressure is applied to the affected muscles while surrounding muscles are taken through a range of motion. Health care professionals and chiropractors have a variety of methods at their disposal that can provide serious relief.

Prevention

The best way to treat muscle knots is to do everything you can to avoid them in the first place. This involves maintaining as healthy a lifestyle as possible. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods. Make sure you get enough electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Maintain good posture. Make sure to stretch and exercise but also remember to relax muscles. Stress can also contribute to muscle pain, so do your best to manage that. But sometimes issues are unavoidable. In those cases, use your knowledge about how to relieve knots to feel good again.

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About the Author

Eileen Sweeney is an editor at Demand Media and previously worked at Yahoo! A graduate of Ohio University, she also studied photography at Santa Monica college and is an award-winning photographer.