eli5 Muscle Knots??

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What are “knots” in your muscles? My partner says it’s fluid buildup, but I don’t know if that’s correct or not and I haven’t found much online that I have confidence in.

Edit: I feel like I missed a real opportunity here by not saying, “but I don’t know if that’s correct or Knot” and have been obsessing on it since…

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I dont think it’s fluid buildup I beleive it is actually just tension and inflammation. Swelling, stiffness especially due to dehydration, etc

The common consensus seems to be that it is an overly streched or strained muscle with subsequent muscle damage that causes the pain, but I was personally not able to find scientific literature conforming that. Someone can correct me if they find anything, though.

From what I personlly can find the exact mechanism is not known, but recent findings suggest involvement of mechanical activation of reactive oxygen species (through excessive muscle strain) which can indeed create destabilized calcium signalling. This can lead to muscle spasm generating the “knot” feeling.

Source: International Scholarly Research Notices: “Mechanisms of Myofascial Pain.”

Probably pockets of muscle tissue stuck in the contracted state because of a signaling failure. Another comment points to disrupted calcium signaling and that sounds very plausible.

Inflammation almost certainly doesn’t have anything to do with it, unless the knotted-up muscle is putting out stress/danger signals or cells in there are straight up dying. Still, seems unlikely because that swelling wouldn’t be something you can just massage away, no matter how skilled you might be.

Sort of…not exactly. Science doesn’t actually know what muscle “knots” are for sure, we think that it’s when a muscle gets “stuck” basically. Your muscles are made of lots of overlapping fibers that stretch and relax and bunch up in response to movement…sometimes they get overstretched or get stuck “bunched up”….this leads to inflammation and swelling (so fluid buildup) which can press on nerves and cause pain. Also pain is just the body signaling to the brain that something is wrong, so having a muscle not functioning is going to “hurt”.

We do know that muscle knots are NOT “toxins” build up or any nonsense like that though.