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How to get rid of muscle knots

APR 6, 2022

Minute 1: Here’s why you have a muscle knot

Muscle knots are a common nuisance among both high-end athletes and chair-bound office workers. These spots of heightened sensitivity are painful, and in some cases, impede your daily routine. To get the facts and untie these troublesome tangles, read “Muscle knots: what are they, and how can you treat them?” Confusingly, both overuse and underuse can cause muscle knots, which are essentially a buildup of tension in your myofascial tissue – the stuff that surrounds and supports muscles. Stress, lack of sleep, poor posture, and poor exercise form all contribute to knot creation. If you’ve already developed a muscle knot, there are ways to relieve the pain, like foam rolling and massage guns. Take a look at “Fascia rolling for Myofascial Release: Does it Really Work?” Foam rollers promote blood flow and oxygen to affected areas, and it’s important to roll out the areas surrounding your knots, as this is where tension resides and pulls on your trigger points. Foam rollers are highly effective for certain parts of the body, but for greater precision on hard to reach areas, a massage gun can make a huge difference. Here’s the “Theragun vs. Foam Roller.”

Minute 2: Learn to let go to stick around longer

More than once we’ve been accused of Italian Alzheimer’s disease – we only remember our grudges. (Have we mentioned that The Godfather is our favorite movie?) Lots of research suggests that there are times in life when we just have to let it go. In recent years, mindfulness, meditation apps, and spirituality have all found traction within health and wellness discourse. One of the most impactful lessons they’ve brought is the power of letting go, and now, research is uncovering just how effective the mindset of “non-attachment” can be. See how it can help you live longer, among other things, in “Letting go: the decluttering obsession moves into the mind.” Psychotherapist Dr. Richard Whitehead surveyed 1,100 people on their well being, and looked at their proclivity to “let go” or “cling” to moments of suffering. Those who were prone to clinging scored far lower on the well being scale, and Whitehead characterized them as “still trying to control the event and the outcomes” that brought them pain. How do you get better at letting go? Research says it will come from 2 things: Age and meditation. Generally, older participants showed greater ability to let go, so just by sticking around, it’s a skill you’ll probably pick up. If you want to be more proactive in your journey, look to the tips in “Learning to Let Go of the Past.” It’s common to feel regret for past mistakes, due to our hindsight bias. We project our current knowledge onto a past event, invoking the desire to smack ourselves and ask: “What was I thinking?!” Instead, use this guide to take yourself to a place of greater self understanding and acceptance. #LetGoToGrow

Minute 3: Tailor your gym session to your specific goals

We don’t think we’ve ever heard of an athlete complaining that they were too strong. To build strength, it’s important to understand the 4 ways your muscles can grow. Details are in this new Healthline piece: “How to Build Muscle Strength: A Complete Guide.” Strength is your ability to lift heavier loads. For that, you should aim for 1 to 8 reps of a lift for 3 to 6 sets, and about a 3 minute rest between sets. Strength is useful for sports like baseball, tennis, and golf, where you’ve got to perform short, intense bursts of exertion with a lot of force behind them. Hypertrophy is the term used to describe an increase in muscle size, and it’s best achieved by aiming for the 8 to 12 rep range, across 3 sets with a slightly shorter rest period. This is generally considered “bodybuilder” strength: style over substance, but there are reasons it can help other athletes and you can read about them in “Why Fitness Athletes Should Focus on Hypertrophy.” Muscular endurance is like strength, but it’s more about your ability to resist fatigue over time: essential for runners, cyclists, and other endurance athletes. For this, aim to keep the weight low, and the reps high. We’re talking 15 and above per set. On the other end of the spectrum is power, which is your ability to produce force and speed in an instant. Short distance runners, jumpers, and basketball players are a few examples of athletes who need power, and to develop it, practice explosive movements like the clean and jerk for 1 to 3 reps at a time.

Minute 4: A little bit of sugar before a run can be the boost you need

As with most things regarding nutritional advice, sometimes the pendulum swings so far to 1 side of the clock that it’s bound to come back the other way. Normally, we are not fans of processed sugar, but there are times when it can be a useful pre-workout boost. Check out the details in this new story from Canadian Running: “What should your sugar intake be before your run?” Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, meaning it’s a quick and efficient source of energy for your body. Unlike complex carbs or fats, you’re able to make use of glucose very quickly after consumption, so for races on the shorter side, they’re the perfect way to keep you sustained and alert. Now, this doesn’t mean you should bring a box of cookies with you to the starting line. Unprocessed sugars will be easier on your stomach and health overall, and fruits like pineapple are the perfect source. Read “All About Pineapple: Benefits, Nutrition Facts, Side Effects, More.” Pineapple has 16.3 grams of sugar per 1 cup serving, which will get you pretty close to the recommendation of 20 to 30 grams. On top of that, pineapple has been shown to reduce inflammation, due to its antioxidant content. It also contains an enzyme called bromelain, which is believed to improve gastrointestinal function.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • There’s a lot we still need to learn about Alzheimer’s if we’re to mitigate its effects. Given that it’s the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, a new study from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital caught our eye. They studied older adults’ sleeping habits, and uncovered a link between daytime napping and risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Whether or not this relationship is causal will require further research, so we can’t come out and say napping is the problem – it may just be a warning sign. You can read the details yourself in “Excessive napping and Alzheimer’s linked in study.”

  • Runner’s World just released the results of some extensive shoe testing and came out with this new piece: “These Are the 23 Winners of the 2022 RW Shoe Awards.”

  • If you suffer from springtime allergies, the thought of running through pollen-filled air can be enough to keep you on the treadmill. Believe it or not, exercising during allergy season can actually reduce your symptoms, assuming you make the right adjustments. Working out very early or very late in the day, choosing lower intensity exercise that requires less breathing, and washing immediately after are just a few of the tips you can read about in “Exercise Can Actually *Help* Calm Seasonal Allergies. Here’s How To Work Out When Pollen Counts Rise, According to an Allergist.”

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Most runners need races like fish need water. Without them, it can be hard to find the motivation to keep getting out there and training every week. Popular Instagram account @strideandglory weighs in with the helpful video below, suggesting that when motivation is sucking wind, put a race on your calendar to pump things up. The brief post includes 3 additional tips to keep the stoke high, including tracking your progress in a daily log and letting your friends know you’re training for a race so they can send you motivational messages. The short video of a rainy day run even encourages getting out there during April showers.


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