Knots vs. Trigger Points

I get asked pretty often if a trigger point is the same as a muscle knot. People have heard of knots. They know what a knot feels like. Trigger points are a more foreign concept; you typically wouldn’t run into one unless looking for it. The pain patterns associated with trigger points aren’t very intuitive – unlike a knot, trigger point might not be located in the same spot as the pain.

To help understand the differences between these concepts, I drew some pictures. For the record, these illustrations are in no way accurate representations of muscles, knots or trigger points… or pain (red area):

A Knot

A Trigger Point

Things to note:

  • Knots are bigger, often visible. Trigger points are much smaller and can usually only be detected by palpation.
  • Knots hurt on the knot, with minimal spillover onto the rest of the muscle. Trigger points hurt at the source as well, but they often refer pain to remote areas.
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