How to Release Muscle Knots and Trigger Points

Use these techniques from STACK Expert Corbin Lang to smooth out your muscles and reduce your chance of injury.

Trigger points, or knots in your muscles, can interfere with normal muscle and joint movement. When left untreated, they can disrupt local blood flow and firing patterns, increasing your risk of injury. Therefore, it's important to address these areas. Grab a foam roller or a hard ball (e.g., a lacrosse ball) and use these techniques to smooth out your muscles.

Parallel Rolling

Start by rolling up and down the muscle, parallel to the arrangement of the muscle fibers. For example, roll the hamstrings from the top of the leg to the back of the knee. Try to use a longer rolling motion to get as much of the muscle as possible. This technique pushes blood through the muscles and smooths out the fascia. Think of using a rolling pin to roll out pizza dough.

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Ischemic Release

This method can soothe trigger points. If you find a trigger point, slow down and deliberately work that spot, using very small rolling motions directly over and in the vicinity of the trigger spot. Relax and breathe. As your discomfort subsides, gradually apply more pressure.

Tack and Floss

The tack and floss technique applies pressure to a trigger point while the muscle moves. Tack the muscle by stopping the roller directly over the trigger point, then floss it by shortening and lengthening the muscle. For example, for a trigger point on the thigh, first position the roller directly over it, then flex and extend the knee, moving your muscles back and forth under the stationary roller.

Perpendicular Rolling

You can also roll perpendicular to the arrangement of the muscle fibers. With a hard ball, roll back and forth across your muscles. The smaller the rolling object, the deeper into the muscles you will get. The larger surface of a foam roller provides even pressure over a large area, while a small, hard ball targets smaller areas with more pressure.

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