Muscle knots are common and can occur anywhere on the body. They can cause aching and pain in the muscles and joints. When examining a muscle knot known as a myofascial trigger point, it can feel swollen, tense, or like a bump. A particular area where these knots are present is in the low back. This happens from excessive wear and tear on the lower spine from work, school, daily tasks, and chores. This causes the muscle fibers to tear, and restricted or no time to rest the area and let it heal properly leads to the fibers bunching/clumping together, forming a painful knot.
Muscle Knots In The Lower Back
A muscle knot in the lower back causes aching, soreness, and full-on pain. They tighten and contract even when the muscle is resting. The affected area often becomes inflamed or swollen, causing pain and aches to radiate/spread to the gluteal muscles.
These knots develop when the tissue fibers pull apart and bunch up together. They start to stick together, and the area becomes thicker with time. This results in the muscle knot. They can be caused by:
- Poor posture
- Muscle overuse
- Muscle strain
- Sedentary habits
Body dehydration and an unhealthy diet can also contribute to muscle knots. They look like a small bumps under the skin. The bump can be red and is usually tender/sore when touched. However, not all muscle knots are visible, but when touched, there is soreness and/or pain.
Do They Go Away?
They can go away independently, but this comes from proper rest and recovery time. However, muscle knots should not be ignored, as even the smallest knot can compress surrounding nerves and muscle tissues. This can cause irritation and weakness. Larger muscle knots could cause movement/mobility issues.
Stretching will help stretch out and release tight muscle knots. Stretching loosens the muscle fibers and prevents them from becoming attached. Stretches to release a muscle knot include:
Start with these simple stretches/exercises and slowly work up to more vigorous ones.
Chiropractic care can break down muscle knots through various adjustments. They are experts on the musculoskeletal system and understand where the problem is occurring along with the connected muscles.
- A chiropractor will palpate the spot where the most pain presents and the surrounding area.
- They will begin with a soft massage. This warms up the area getting the blood circulating. The blood circulation helps prevent pain making the adjustment/s far more effective.
- Then pressing on nearby joints that connect the muscle knot breaks up the tight fibers.
- Then the section/area is stretched out. This extends the fibers and prevents them from winding back into a knot.
- They will recommend stretches and exercises
A massage helps to release tension and encourages muscle knots to loosen up and break down. A massage therapist will perform a deep tissue massage or a Swedish massage. Massage helps to release endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkiller. These calm the body and reduce pain. They will also recommend simple massages at home. These can include:
- Rolling a massage ball/roller on the muscle knot
- Self-massage using the fingers in circular motions on the affected area
Heat and Ice
Hot and cold therapy can calm and prevent inflammation. Heating pads are best if the area has stiffness or is painful. The heat relaxes tight muscles and increases blood flow. Cold therapy stops the swelling. If the muscle knot gets bigger or turns red, icing the area is recommended. Alternating between the two can eliminate symptoms and assist with quicker healing.
Building Functional Strength
There are exercises to improve functional strength. Functional training targets specific areas:
These types of exercises should be incorporated into a workout routine. One exercise is:
The muscles worked include:
- Pectoralis major/minor
- Rectus abdominus
- Deep abdominals
- Hip abductors and rotators
- Scapula stabilizers
To do the exercise
- Start with doing a normal pushup.
- When the top of the movement is reached
- Lift one arm, turn the shoulder, and reach up
- Then lift the outside leg as high as possible and hold for 10 seconds
- Repeat on the other side
- Do 6-10 repetitions on each side
This exercise builds shoulder, arm, and hip strength. It engages the core and abdominal muscles and improves shoulders, back, and hips flexibility.
Cramer, Holger, et al. “Postural awareness and its relation to pain: validation of an innovative instrument measuring awareness of body posture in patients with chronic pain.” BMC musculoskeletal disorders vol. 19,1 109. 6 Apr. 2018, doi:10.1186/s12891-018-2031-9
Malanga, Gerard A et al. “Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury.” Postgraduate medicine vol. 127,1 (2015): 57-65. doi:10.1080/00325481.2015.992719
The information herein on "Lower Back Muscle Knots Can Be Broken Down With Chiropractic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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