A stress knot is called a myofascial trigger point in medicine. These are specific places where muscles have been exposed to prolonged stress. This is where the stress nodes develop. These muscle nodes are usually very tight, painful areas that get worse when you are stressed. If you want to get rid of it, a combination of massage techniques, the application of heat, and stress-relieving techniques are appropriate.
Method 1 of 3: Treating Stress Nodes at Home
Step 1. Self-massage
The easiest way is to massage your neck yourself. Massage the firm point to relax the stressed muscle by gently kneading the sore area. Start by applying gentle pressure to the area.
- Rub your fingertips over the stress knot in firm, circular motions. Repeat this movement for a minute or two and see if that gives you some relief. You can also just rub back and forth.
- If the massage hurts, then you are probably rubbing too hard. Start with a gentle movement and increase the pressure if necessary.
- If this method works, you should massage the area 1 to 5 times a day. Each session should last about five minutes because you don't want to overdo it. Because you don't want to add any new stress to your muscles.
Step 2. Use tools
For some people, it is enough to work the stress points with their fingers. But it's also important to try different massage techniques to see what works best for you. Many people find it helpful to use a tennis ball.
- To use a tennis ball, lie down on the floor and place the tennis ball under your neck, roughly where the knot is. You can also try this method on the wall.
- Adjust your posture until you feel a "comfortable" pressure on the knot. The tennis ball shouldn't cause pain.
- Move your neck and body up and down and back and forth so that the tennis ball rolls over the stress knot. This helps relax and loosen the tight muscle.
- Make sure your neck is in a neutral position when you use the tennis ball. If you find that your head is drooping (which could put additional stress on your muscles), place a book on the floor and the tennis ball on top. This will bring the ball closer to your neck and you won't have to bend your neck to reach the ball on the ground.
- If you find a tennis ball too soft, you can use a lacrosse ball. It's firmer and may be more suitable for people with chronic stress knots or more muscle mass.
- Many shops have aids for massaging yourself - e.g. wooden or foam rollers. They are used in the same way as the tennis ball.
Step 3. Apply heat
Heat is also good for relaxing tight muscles. At home, you can use a heating pad to increase blood circulation in the stressed muscle. If your muscle has been tense for a long time, then the blood circulation there is reduced. This can lead to more stress and pain. Heat relaxes the muscle and relieves pain by improving blood circulation in this area.
- Hold the heating pad against the stress knot for a few minutes twice a day. If you don't have a heating pad, soak a towel in hot water, wring it out, and use it as a warm compress.
- Take a hot bath regularly. Hot baths can relieve knots of stress in the neck as they work just like a hot compress.
- Support your neck in the bathtub with a towel or bath pillow. This prevents additional stress on the neck.
- Adding Epsom salts to the water will make the bath even more effective. Epsom salts are used to relieve muscle pain and inflammation. For best results, add two cups of Epsom salts to the bathtub before jumping in.
Step 4. Take pain medication
Go to your pharmacy and ask about over-the-counter muscle relaxers. They come in the form of ointments, gels or solid “sticks” (like deodorant sticks) and they are used to relax muscles. Ask the pharmacist if they can recommend a product to you.
- It is important to read the instructions and dose recommendations before applying any product to the skin.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers such as Aspirin® and Ibopufen® are also effective for muscle pain.
Method 2 of 3: Get professional treatment
Step 1. Go to the massage therapist
If your stress knot doesn't go away in a day or two, you may want to seek professional help. Make an appointment with a massage therapist. Many spas, fitness centers, and yoga studios have their own massage therapists. Therefore, you should ask the staff there or have your doctor prescribe a massage for you.
- You should see a massage therapist who is licensed and qualified. Before making an appointment, you should ask what training they have, what methods they are using, and what the massage costs.
- The masseur will apply pressure to the stressed muscle to knead away any knots. You should tell the masseur if the pressure is appropriate for you.
Step 2. Physiotherapy
A physical therapist can help remove the knots of stress and keep them from returning. Physiotherapy is great when parts of your body are under particularly high stress. This therapy works with your body to get the best result. The physical therapist is likely to use a mixture of active and passive therapy.
- Active therapy: This is about active actions and about restoring balance. These include: exercises for stretching, for strengthening muscles, for relieving pain and aerobic conditioning (so-called "low-impact" exercises).
- Passive therapy: You don't have to move your muscles at all. Passive therapy involves the use of heat and cold, electrical stimulation and ultrasound.
- Ask your doctor to recommend a reputable, good physical therapist to you.
Step 3. Acupuncture
This is an alternative medicine method in which needles are inserted into the skin at specific pressure points to relieve pressure and pain. Acupuncture has long been used in Eastern medicine and is becoming increasingly popular in Western culture as well. Many people rely on acupuncture to help manage different types of pain.
- Needles scare a lot of people, but the acupuncturist will be able to explain the procedure to you well.
- The needles are very thin and have a round tip. When placed, they do not puncture blood vessels or nerves. Therefore, there should be neither bleeding nor pain during use. The needles pinch a little, which is followed by pressure and then you feel relief.
- Ask your doctor about a licensed acupuncturist in your area.
Method 3 of 3: Avoid future stress nodes
Step 1. Reduce your physical stress
Avoid sitting in the same place for long periods of time. Walk around a bit, circling your shoulders. If you sit at your desk all day, make a mental note to get up for a few minutes and walk around once an hour.
- Try to avoid sagging shoulders as much as possible. Sit up straight so your head is straight and your shoulders are pulled back. Good posture is very important to relieve tension in your neck and shoulders.
- Get a new pillow. If your pillow is too flat, it may not support your neck the way you need it to. If your neck is particularly sore when you get up in the morning, a new pillow may help.
Step 2. Lower your mental tension
Emotional stress can manifest itself in the body. Try to reduce anxiety by calming your mind. Try meditation. It is great for relaxing. You can also do yoga regularly. With yoga and meditation you will learn certain breathing techniques that are very good for coping with stress.
- You can take classes in meditation and yoga. You can also do both in the comfort of your own home. To meditate, all you need is a quiet, comfortable place where you can close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
- If there are aspects of your job that are excessively stressful, then you should think about working less or even looking for a new job.
Step 3. Adopt healthy behaviors
Your diet and physical activity play a huge role in how your body and mind function. Eat a healthy diet and exercise more to reduce your stress levels. Both can help prevent future muscular problems.
- You should try to be physically active for at least 30 minutes, five times a week if possible. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, and it also ensures better health.
- You should look for something that you enjoy. Because then there is a greater likelihood that you will stick with it. Go running or swimming, do kickboxing, Zumba or Pilates - the main thing is that your circulation and pulse get going. Remember, however, that you should stretch before any type of exercise.
- Drink enough to avoid dehydration. The same goes for your muscles: lack of water causes them to become tight and stressed.
- Eat healthy. Eating a diet rich in nutrients will reduce stress levels. Your body is always trying to keep the internal system in balance. You should consume more B vitamins. You can do this by eating foods like fish, chicken, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables.
- Get enough sleep, as this is essential to avoiding stress. Try to get seven or eight hours of sleep each night and, if possible, go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- If in doubt, you should consult a doctor. While stress knots are common, it could be something else. If the pain persists then you should turn to a professional.
- Most stress knots feel better when pressure is applied to the area. If this doesn't provide relief, or if the pain gets worse and doesn't go away, then you should see a doctor.