Article | Fabulous Women

Knots: problems and solutions

Posted on 24/06/2012

'What's this knot in my shoulder?' You feel a lumpy, hard, crunchy area. Whats going on in there?

Muscle tension. Sometimes it's been there so long we no longer register it.

These tangled up areas originate from layers of muscle that have formed adhesions to surrounding areas and got stuck. Why? Most commonly due to inactivity, for example when sitting for long periods of time in an awkward position the muscle tries to cope with. Blood supply reduces, which means reduced oxygen, nutrient supply and poor waste removal. Dehydration can exacerbate the situation. Injuries can contribute. Mental stress can also lead to physical manifestations - you'll eventually notice your muscles tense up after keeping your shoulders 'wrapped around your ears' in a difficult situation.

Do something about it. Try the three Rs:

REDUCE the causes. What could trigger knots? How could you avoid those situations altogether? Can you set more achievable goals? Can you avoid stress situations? Can you simply do someting else than things involving extended periods of muscle inactivity? Of course, relaxation and sleep are periods of muscle inactivity you don't want to avoid...

REACT to situations. You can't always change the world, but you can choose how to react to it. If you must spend hours on your computer, set up your workstation ergonomically, take regular breaks, go for a walk, breathe, stretch and keep hydrated. If you need help with pacing yourself, have a look at WorkPace by Wellnomics, a (Windows) software which prompts you to take breaks and even suggests exercises. Some situations are all about not reacting, in the sense of letting stress wash over you.

RESPOND by actively strengthening yourself and tackling knots you couldn't avoid. The most common ways to treat them are stretching, relaxation and physical therapies like massage. Have your 'weapons' ready. Know some useful stretches and perhaps a small repertoire of massage techniques you can do yourself (search for 'self-massage' on my website). Keep self-massage tools handy (see my Aftercare page). My favourite is The Yantra Mat.

The sooner you catch those knots, the easier they can be treated. Dont be surprised if you need persistent stretching or a course of massage treatments. If its taken a while to build up, itll take a while to undo.

It's worth 'unknotting' yourself. Without knots, you'll be pain free, more productive and able to enjoy life more.


Astrid is a complementary therapist based in Surrey. Alongside her current practice offering various Massage and Manual Lymph Drainage treatment options, Astrid studies for a degree in Acupuncture, broadening her holistic approach to health and wellbeing. For further information on how to keep happily healty, see the collection of Articles on her website.

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