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Does Yoga Help in Reducing Muscle Knots?

By Christina Piper

Muscle knots, or myofascial trigger points, are related to a host of ailments that cause recurring pain and discomfort. Mainstream and alternative treatments provide relief from muscle knots. Regular yoga sessions are often encouraged as a complement to direct treatment, such as deep tissue massage, for muscle knots. Yoga poses that concentrate on stretching connective tissue may play a more direct role in releasing the knots.

Muscle Knots

A muscle knot is an isolated area in muscle tissue that contracts on the muscle fibers connected to it, causing a tight band in the muscle. The knot feels like a small pea embedded in the muscle. These knots are called myofascial trigger points, after the thin wrapping around each muscle called fascia. Muscle knots are not as serious as a spasm of the entire muscle, or straining or tearing of muscle tissue, but they can lead to referred pain and become chronic.

Referred Pain

Myofascial trigger points only hurt when pressure is put on them. But they can refer pain to another point in the body. This pain is steady and can range in intensity from low-grade and dull to severe. Trigger points are associated with numerous issues of chronic pain, such as headaches, neck and jaw pain and various types of joint pain, as well as other conditions that cause physical discomfort. There may be more than one trigger point causing physical pain elsewhere in the body.

Yoga and Muscle Knots

Conventional and alternative treatment is available for muscle knots, and for many people the remedies work quickly. If underlying problems of health and fitness go unaddressed, muscle knots can recur. Some conditions that aggravate muscle knots, including stress and tension, low activity rates, and poor circulation can be relieved with yoga. Yoga has an overall positive effect on muscle tension, muscle relaxation, circulation and stress relief. It's often incorporated into self-treatment programs for trigger points to help address those underlying issues.

Yoga and Connective Tissue

A version of Tao yoga, called Yin yoga, adapts classic yoga poses to promote flexibility in the connective tissues. Instead of contracting and releasing muscles, yin yoga poses apply a slow, steady load to connective tissue by stretching for several minutes. Yin yoga advocates believe that with regular practice the connective tissue becomes longer and stronger, resulting in long-term relief from muscle knots. Yin yoga and similar yoga programs may prove to be an effective complement to myofascial release therapies.

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