Further to my last blog, I thought I would give you a little more detail about trigger points. Ancient philosophies were in tune with themselves and each other enough to be able to tap into the powerful resources we all have, inside. Pain needn’t be something that keeps you from the things you love. The presence of pain inducing trigger points can really make for a miserable existence and during our short time together, it is my intention to share with you some thoughts and later on, I shall share some tips on how you can help yourself to avoid pain and tension building up.
What are trigger points?
Trigger points are simply areas of your muscles that can’t lengthen to their correct resting length. Sarcomere’s, the areas where muscular contraction takes place, get stuck in their contracted state. Your body always aims to protect you and so will feed signals into your pain receptors, which often causes pain or dysfunction. This is your body’s way of drawing your attention to something that needs addressing and is there to dissuade you from doing anything that is likely to make things worse.
Trigger points may be caused by; over-use, excessively long periods of stress, periods of emotional turmoil, poor form or technique in physical exercise or work, motivation issues, over training, too heavy a schedule, beliefs, to name a few.
Origins of Pain Can be Full of Surprises.
Something like 70% of trigger points will refer their pain to another area of your body. The pictures that I’ve created for you demonstrate this. In fig. 1, the trigger point in the soleus (calf) muscle can refer pain up into the lower back. In fig. 2, trigger points in supraspinatus (one of the four rotator cuff muscles, blue arrows) can cause pain in ether the shoulder, or the elbow.
We can easily and effectively release these trigger points. And more importantly you can prevent them too. You can create an environment in which your body can heal itself. And investing your time to tap into the ancient wisdom of your body can reveal some interesting secrets. More of that later.
Solutions Can Have Surprising Origins
You can easily be mistaken for believing that these painful experiences that you have are permanent. I have come across many people who had come to see me believing that at best our session would only provide temporary relief. The good news is that trigger points can create pain that can not only mimics other conditions, but can be so excruciatingly painful that it feels a lot worse than it is or feels permanent.
Stretching and Strengthening What You Should Know.
There are some things you should know about your effective road to recovery. As eager as you might be to get back to the things that you love, beware of stretching and strengthening. In my work, I see many people who plough headlong into an intense programme of stretching and strengthening to reach a solution. That’s a trap I’ve fallen into myself too. In general, if you have muscles that are affected by trigger points, they will quickly broadcast their dismay at your diligence and eagerness loud and clear (more pain, usually). Get the trigger points cleared first.
We still don’t know if stretching is good for you or not. There are studies that demonstrate stretching to be a useful, or even essential activity and others that state that demonstrate it is counterintuitive. In his book, The Stark Reality of Stretching, osteopath Steven D. Stark makes it clear that the jury is still out. He then provides instruction of how, in his opinion, to do it in a safe way aimed at reaping the benefits of stretching. Travell and Simons advocate stretching following musclar release. Trigger points are released by either by putting pressure on them, or by massaging them gently. You can always tell when you’ve found a trigger point, they are disproportionately tender in relation to the pressure applied.
Four Ways of Helping Yourself.
As promised, some of my suggestions for helping yourself. I believe that by implementing the following you can assist in maximising your treatment and help prevent reoccurrence.
So, what can you do?
* Awareness – being aware of what is going on for you. Where you’re holding any tension in your body, a very common response to our environment and experiences. Once you begin to build awareness, you’re taking the first step towards resolution. It’s powerful stuff.
* Thoughts – everything we create begins with a thought, or a series of them. Often they are incessant. Become the witness. It’s easy to assume that the voice in our head is who we are. It is not. That is the derived sense of self or the ego. By watching your thoughts, in your imagination, from a distance, you can begin to be free of their impact.
Bruce Lipton, in his book, The Biology of Belief – shares just how your thoughts can affect your body in general and your DNA specifically. There is a whole scientific field dedicated to this, called epigenetic. Our brains don’t know the difference between what we experience and what we imagine.
When you think about something you’ve experienced, your body creates many, if not all, of the same physiological responses as it did during the original experience. Be careful with your thoughts.
* Breathe – most of us don’t breathe as well as we could. Effective breathing should occur at the diaphragm. You’ll know you’re chest breathing if it feels as though your collar bones are rising when you inhale and or your upper chest moves. Chest breathing is a feature of the fight or flight response. Habitual chest breathing can create excessive tension in you scalene muscles (front of the neck). Trigger points here can create a wide range of issues, including chest, arm, elbow, finger and shoulder pain.
* Read – Clair Davis’, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self -Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. His work is a real gem and a gift to the world. Clair was a piano builder and this strenuous work had taken it’s toll. He became interested in trigger points to relieve his pain. His book draws on the work of Travell and Simons. Full credits and references are given. This is a self-help guide and explains how to treat your trigger points to relieve pain. It is an excellent idea to use this book post-treatment to ensure you get the most from your treatment.
I hope you’ve found this blog useful. Please feel free to direct people to this article if you know someone else that may find it useful.