A muscle knot, also known as a trigger point, is basically a small group of muscle fibers that have contracted in one spot amidst a much larger muscle bundle or muscle spindle. It usually occurs from chronically overusing a muscle.
What’s the problem with knots? Anytime there is any compression of a muscle, the blood vessels compress and that shuts the flow of blood. That’s why you can’t indefinitely keep lifting something up with your arm and eventually need to relax. Wherever there is a knot, the muscle fiber is chronically constricted, consuming energy and the lack of oxygenated blood flow causes waste products such as lactic acid to build up and the waste products cannot leave since the blood flow is decreased. This causes knots/trigger points to remain very tight and painful when massaged.
Anyway, whats the point of this? How do we get rid of these knots?
The problem with these knots is that stretching may not get rid of all these knots as effectively as we would like. Deep Tissue Massage works best but most people can’t afford a massage every couple days, let alone every month! Luckily, there is a form of self-myofascial release that you could do yourself using a foam roller that is actually quite inexpensive and incredibly effective!
Grab this ridiculous foam roller that’ll last forever
You see this foam roller on the right? This thing is absolutely ridiculous. It’s called the “Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller” and for $40-shipped, I got rid of all the knots on my entire back, quads, gluts, calves, hamstrings, IT band and even my forearms. I have literally used it everywhere and I feel so incredibly loose afterwards. It’s like giving yourself a massage every time. It’s painful at first, but the pain lessens with each subsequent session and the areas feel so much more flexible.
Note: When I first ran the foam roller along my back for the first time, it got rid of so many knots I didn’t even know existed. Being a regular cyclist for over five years now, the amount of knots I had built up in my quadriceps were innumerable and I had no idea.
If you are on a tight budget, don’t get the cheaper foam roller.
I’ve tried this j/fit foam roller as it was only $20 instead of the $33 but it wasn’t very good, at all. I wouldn’t be impressed with foam rollers if this was the best foam roller on the planet. It works, but it’s absolutely nothing like the trigger point version.
Pictured below: One of the areas you could work on (other than your entire upper back!) is your iliotibial band (IT band). Everybody needs to work out their iliotibial band which is this massive tendon that runs between your top of shin bone (tibia) alongside your femur, all the way to the top of your hip (ilium). It’s super-duper tight on runners and cyclists and you will feel so loose afterwards!
Download this manual that explains how to release the knots for every muscle in perfect detail!
I found this manual online that explains in detail how to perform Self Myofascial Release for every muscle and what tool to use. Most of them call for a foam roller but some of them can also be done with a tennis ball or a stick.
Hope that helps!