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Glossary Term

Taut Band

Taut bands are localized areas of muscle tension that can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. However, taut bands are easily identified by palpation and treated with a variety of accessible techniques, including dry needling, acupuncture, foam rolling, ischemic compression, and massage.

Taut Band: A taut band is a localized contracture within a muscle without activation of the motor endplate by an action potential. Taut bands likely result from muscle fiber dysfunction and the processes that are also correlated with trigger point development.

For more information on taut bands, trigger points, and muscle fiber dysfunction:

For more information on the palpation of taut bands and trigger points:

What Causes Taut Bands?

  • Taut bands can develop due to fatigue, chronic overuse, tissue trauma, movement impairment (postural dysfunction), and certain diseases. They are also associated with conditions like fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome (MPS). Symptoms include pain, stiffness, the sensation of "knots" in muscles, and reduced range of motion (ROM).

How Do You Treat Taut Bands (release tight muscles)?

  • Treatment options for taut bands include compression techniques, needling, and trigger point therapies. Methods include dry needling, acupuncture, ischemic compression, spray and stretch, specific massage techniques, foam rolling, and using devices for self-administered compression of trigger points.

How Do You Palpate Taut Bands?

  • To palpate taut bands, gently strum the muscle fibers perpendicular to their direction, feeling for differences in tension between adjacent fibers. Taut bands often feel like an overly tight "guitar string" within the muscle, extending from origin to insertion.
  1. Mense, S. (1997). Pathophysiologic basis of muscle pain syndromes: an update. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics8(1), 23-53.

Image: By Davidparmenter - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3121745