The Science Behind Muscle Knots & How Gene Expression Can Shed New Light on Treatment

What do muscle knots and your genes have to do with each other? Read on to find out!

Knots, also known as myofascial trigger points, are localised areas of muscle tension or spasm that can cause discomfort or pain. These knots can be caused by a variety of factors, including injury, overuse, poor posture, stress, and inflammation. Knots can occur in any muscle, but they are most commonly found in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips.

The biochemical basis of myofascial trigger points is complex and multifactorial. Recent studies have also suggested that changes in the local biochemical environment, including changes in neurotransmitters, cytokines, and growth factors, may play a role in the development and maintenance of myofascial trigger points. For example, high levels of inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α, have been found in trigger points, and these cytokines have been shown to increase pain sensitivity and contribute to the formation of trigger points. Furthermore, changes in muscle pH, oxygenation, and blood flow have also been implicated in the development of trigger points.

How can massage help with trigger points?

Several scientific studies have investigated the effects of massage therapy on the expression of genes in the body. One study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, found that massage therapy can actually cause changes in the expression of genes associated with inflammation and immune function.

The study involved a group of 11 healthy men who received a 45-minute Swedish massage. The researchers collected blood samples from the men before and after the massage and analysed the expression of genes in the samples. They found that the massage therapy caused changes in the expression of more than 500 genes, including those associated with inflammation, immunity, and stress response.

Another study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, looked at the effects of massage therapy on the expression of genes associated with muscle repair and regeneration. The study involved a group of 11 healthy men who received a 10-minute massage to one leg. The researchers collected muscle tissue samples from the men before and after the massage and analysed the expression of genes in the samples.

They found that the massage therapy caused an increase in the expression of genes associated with muscle repair and regeneration, as well as a decrease in the expression of genes associated with inflammation and muscle damage. These findings suggest that massage therapy may be useful in promoting muscle recovery and reducing the occurrence of knots in muscles.

One of the key benefits of remedial massage therapy is that it is a non-invasive and non-pharmacological treatment option. This means that it can be used to alleviate pain and discomfort without the need for medication or surgery. Massage therapy is also generally considered safe, although it may not be appropriate for people with certain medical conditions, such as bleeding disorders or deep vein thrombosis.