[4MV] What are muscle knots? And how to get rid of them ✔ An exercise physiologist explains

published10 months ago
9 min read

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Side effects.

We are living in perilous times and have become somewhat resistant to more bad news. Still, sometimes you think "what next" - as I did when I read that Merck & Co.’s Januvia and Janumet, which are popular diabetes drugs, could be contaminated with a substance that could cause cancer! The FDA released the news this week.

Metformin, another popular diabetes drug, had been affected previously with the same impurity, called nitrosamine. Nitrosamine is commonly found in cured and grilled meats and in dairy at low levels. When it is in drugs that you inject or take every day it is a different matter.

Drug manufacturers have now taken steps to reduce the possibility of any nitrosamine contamination. Thank goodness. Diabetes is hard enough on our body without the added stress of thinking that your medicine may be cacinogenic.

We've all had muscle knots. They hurt, right? But what are they actually, and what is the best way to release them ASAP? - see item #2.

Do we need vitamin supplements? This nutritional psychiatrist, brain expert, and faculty member at Harvard Medical School says yes to vitamin B - see item #1.

Here are the topics I have chosen for you to help you live longer better:

⭑ Brain health may come in a tablet - especially if you are not eating well ✔
⭑ Here's how to break down those painful muscle knots ✔
⭑ Had Covid? Neither RAT nor PCR tests can reliably tell you about the past
⭑ Build better bone health - it's declining when you do nothing. Do this instead

01 Harvard Nutritionist Shares the #1 Vitamin That Keeps Her Brain Young

Cognitive decline outpacing physical decline is something that we all hope to avoid.

Until now I have never heard of a "nutritional psychiatrist". This one says that she banks on the vitamin B group are to keep her brain young and healthy.Vitamin B3, or niacin, is an important nutrient that helps the body produce cholesterol and fat, convert energy for all our organ systems, and reduce excess inflammation.

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that vitamin B group vitamins are important for cognitive health. Vitamin B12, in particular, has been shown to play a role in brain function and brain health. A number of studies have linked vitamin B12 deficiency with cognitive decline and dementia.

Most concern centres on older people living alone and not eating a balanced diet.

What it means for us: Most people are not vitamin B deficient. However there is some evidence that vitamins B3, B5 and B12 are worth boosting through food or supplements.

  • Vitamin B3, or niacin, helps the body produce cholesterol and fat, convert energy for all our organ systems, and reduce excess inflammation. These benefits become more important as we age, especially the potential reduction of inflammation.
  • Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5, is essential for making coenzyme A, which helps our body's enzymes break down fats for energy. It also helps generate acyl carrier proteins, which are necessary for making fats and our brain is primarily fat.
  • Vitamin B12 is important for many functions, including red blood cell and DNA formation, nervous system development and function, and homocysteine breakdown. B12 deficiency can lead to serious problems including dementia.

Following B3, B5, and B12, there are likely brain benefits from B5 and B7.

The good news is that most everyday foods contain useful amounts of vitamin B.

By including foods like leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains in your diet, you can easily get the B vitamins you need. As a bonus, whole foods that are rich in one B vitamin often contain many other B vitamins as well, so it is easy to get them all from a variety of sources.

Some specifically vitamin-B rich foods are eggs, yoghurt, legumes, salmon, sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard and cabbage.

Vitamin B is available in supplement form, but you should talk with your doctor first to make sure you're not wasting your money.

Related: Brain Health Is Boosted By Eating Less, Often — Here’s How To Start

02 What are Muscle Knots? And How To Release Them

It's a little hard to believe but the cause of muscle knots is not yet understood. We know what they are - little lumps on our muscles which hurt when pressure is applied.

Muscle knots are associated with inflammation our muscles and the fascial layer which surrounds them. But medical scientists don't yet understand the exact physiological mechanisms which cause the knots.

Physiotherapists call these lumps myofascial trigger points. These develop in response to new or more-strenuous-then-usual repetitive exercise, or if you hold one position for a long time such as being hunched over a computer all day.

They are irritating right, and give you a uncomfortable twinge if you have to turn your head out the window of the car while backing into a parking spot. So what is the best way to release the pressure?

The simplest way is just to wait, but this doesn't help if you are repeating the same cause of the knots day after day. If it is a one-off knot it will generally unravel within a week or two.

There are other faster ways which are recommended.

What this means for us: You can help speed relief by massages, dry needling, and electrical stimulation. Each technique is designed to decrease tautness in the fascia and muscle and increase blood flow. This will provide nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissue, enhancing recovery.

If you are in dire need, or have the funds readily available, a good acupuncturist will release the tension (since two key goals of acupuncture are to release our good energy and increase the blood flow).

Otherwise try stretching, it's cheap and you can do it at home. The goal is to move your muscles through different ranges of motion to those which cause the knot. For example, For example, after sitting for a while, some simple shoulder rolls and neck rotations can alleviate some of the tension in those muscles, helping to avoid or reduce the accumulation of muscle knots.

Another way is by self-myofascial release. This can be done at home using a foam roller, rolling device, hard ball, or softball. It's a simple method that just takes a few minutes each day.

For example, if you have knots in the quadriceps muscle group on the front of your thigh, you can lie on a foam roller and gently roll your leg back and forth on it. Alternatively, you can roll the device up and down the muscle group, keeping the pressure within your comfort range. Because you apply as much pressure as you like, you’re able to work within your own pain tolerance. You can use this technique anywhere you have knots.

There's no need to worry about muscle knots - they're just a nuisance. Be consistent with your exercise routine and make sure to keep moving throughout the day to help prevent them from forming in the first place.

Related: Shining Light On Infrared Therapy - It Helped Unlock My Shoulder

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03 Can Taking a Test Now Tell You if You’ve Already Had COVID-19?

For me this is an interesting topic because there is a reasonably large proportion of the population who may have had Covid and not been aware of it.

Epidemiologists estimate that in the US about 75% of the population has contracted COVID, and in Australia about 50%. Those are tremendously high numbers, and they don't mean that 75% or 50% of the respective populations know that they have had the virus. Given that a fair amount of COVID is asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic, there are a lot of infections that people don’t realize they’ve had.

This is important because Long-COVID is a debilitating condition that can have a significant impact on an individual's longevity and risk of mortality. The symptoms of Long-COVID can be extremely debilitating, and can include fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, insomnia and muscle pain.

In one study, long-COVID was associated with a six-fold increased risk of death in patients who were hospitalized with the condition. This is likely due to the fact that Long-COVID can lead to a number of serious complications, including pneumonia, sepsis and organ failure.

What this means for us: We are becoming more and more aware of the debilitating aftereffects of Long-COVID. If you are unaware that you have had it then you will not be best prepared to look after your future health.

What the article makes clear is that there is no current test to measure COVID antibodies which is reliable and widely available for people who are not aware of their prior infection.

At the time of infection, RAT tests and PCR Covid tests can both detect the presence of COVID. However, there is a difference between the two types of tests. A RAT test looks for antibodies that are produced in response to the virus, while a PCR Covid test looks for genetic material from the virus.

Both types of tests can be used to determine if someone is contagious or not. A RAT test can only be used after someone has been infected with Covid, while a PCR Covid test can be used before someone becomes infected.

The standard treatment for Long-COVID is supportive care, which includes resting, drinking lots of fluids and not exercising strenuously. If you have not had a positive RAT or PCR test but feel that you may be suffering from Long-COVID it is particularly important that you seek advice from your doctor.

Related: This One Exercise Will Reshape Your Body And Your Brain, If You’re Game

04 Best Exercises for Bone Health

Our exercise of the week is ... not so much an exercise but the types of exercises which are best for bone health. Here’s a fun fact: Bone is a living tissue that constantly renews itself. Our skeleton is completely new every five to 10 years!

Our bone mass, and strength (the density of minerals in our bones) peaks in our 20s, declines moderately until our 50s, and then a little more rapidly until our mid-60s. From that point our bone mass gradually declines for the rest of our life, which puts us at a greater risk for fractures.

In fact, for each five years that passes after age 65, our risk of fracture essentially doubles.

Doing regular exercises helps improve our bone health by increasing bone density and strength. Exercises can reverse the losses and then significantly reduce the rate of decline.

What this means for us: We can reduce age-related bone loss by starting an exercise program designed to bolster our bone strength.But what are the ideal exercises?

The most basic helpful exercise is just walking, a so-called heel strike exercise. This is in contrast to non-weight-bearing activities such as swimming or cycling, where the water or bicycle supports our body weight.

Dynamic heel-strike exercises such as jogging, running, fast-paced aerobics, and playing tennis are even more beneficial. Studies have found that activities with sudden changes of direction e.g. soccer, tennis, or squash, improve bone strength even more than, for example, long distance running.

Even better, exercises which increase muscle mass not only improve bone strength but also enhance muscle control, bal­ance, and coordination. Good balance and coordination can mean the difference between falling and staying on your feet. Strong evidence shows that regular physical activity can reduce falls by nearly a third in older adults at high risk of falling.

This means challenging your muscles by working against some type of resistance, such as barbells, dumbbells, elastic bands, or via classic bodyweight exercises such as pushups, squats and lunges. These will all build bone strength and muscle mass and strength.

The most important thing is to start now, whatever exercises you choose to do.

Note: If you are particularly curious or have any doubts about your bone health then get a DXA scan - an imaging test which measures your bone density. Then, get professional advice about which exercises are most suitable for your specific condition to improve your bone health.

In case you missed it...

Related: This One Exercise Will Reshape Your Body And Your Brain, If You’re Game

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