Trigger Points – Part 4
…can live with ‘em, prefer to live without ‘em.
SO, now that you have a better idea of what a trigger point is, how you get them and what kinds of problems they cause…How do you get rid of them? Prevention beats cure any time so lets start there.
Obviously there is little you can do about overusing your muscles once in a while. Falls and accidents happen. So once it is safe, make sure you do something to loosen the muscles and keep the connective tissues pliable. One of the worst things you can do is to ignore or mask pain and allow compensation patterns to become established. That is one of the ways trigger points happen.
OK, I am decidedly biased being a massage therapist and knowing the value of regular maintenance massage. Remember, you can easily massage most of your muscles yourself if you make the time. Flexible tissues, relaxed muscles and stable joints allow your body to withstand occasional overuse and keep rehabilitation time to a minimum.
If you have no clue about how to do a massage, we have produced a series of instructional DVDs that you can buy. Check them out here.
Gradual onset factors you CAN prevent
Lets face it…most of us lead busy lives that crowd our time and can make it easy to fall into unhealthy habits. Truth is that most trigger points happen as a result of long-term practices that place a strain on our bodies. The body can only absorb so much before it starts to make sacrifices.
Here is a listing of factors that cause trigger points to become established over time along with some pro-active actions you can take to change them and live a trigger point- free life.
Good blood circulation is necessary to deliver nutrients to the cells and to flush out waste products. When posture is compromised so is blood circulation. Waste products pool and trigger points can develop. Take steps to balance out your posture. Get some massage; strengthen weak muscles; stretch every morning; Join a yoga class.
Faulty body mechanics:
Make your workspace more efficient; watch your form when you work out; lift with your legs – not with your back. Empty out that purse or backpack (go ahead and weigh it – you might be surprised).
So much to do in so little time. Take time to clear your mind; use aromatherapy to shift mental outlook; Talk it over with your partner; Express your feelings; Meditate; Make time to do something fun; Talk with your kids.
Poor nutrition at a cell level deprives muscles of the raw materials they need to function properly and can lead to the waste build-up in the trigger point tissues.
Drink more water; Study up on nutrition; Eat a balanced diet; Make better food choices; Eat breakfast; Take enzymes to break down food more completely; Give your cells what they need to function at their best – garbage in = garbage piling up inside
Poor sleep habits:
Fatigue is at the root of many a dis-ease and there are a lot of prescription sleep medications standing ready to assist. Emotional stress definitely contributes to many a sleepless night. Most of us have a few nights of tossing and turning under our belts. Essential oils such as lavender have been researched and proven to promote sleep and reduce stress. Remove the television from your bedroom; avoid late night meals; listen to relaxing music before retiring to bed.
If you already have trigger points, here are a few suggestions
Locate the area of tenderness. It helps to place the muscle in a slackened position to reveal the tight nodule characteristic of trigger points.
Using your fingertips or thumb, apply direct pressure to the trigger point for 10 – 15 seconds. If there is intense pain when you press on the spot lighten up the pressure. It should never cause you or your partner to tense up from the pain. The idea is to get the fluids moving, disperse the waste products pooling in the tissue, and interrupt the flow of pain impulses to the spinal cord by actually flooding the spinal cord with so many impulses it shuts down. It is like trying to order the hot concert ticket at exactly the time they go on sale. So many calls into the order center effectively crashes the system. That is how websites get shut down – overloading the site with “hits” so fast that the site can’t handle it and it crashes. We use the same approach to interrupt the trigger point cycle.
After a while you may feel the tissue soften up and the muscle may become more relaxed. If there is referred pain felt, you may notice the pain subside. These are indications the trigger point has been released.
Stretch out the affected muscle after you have released the pressure. You can follow up with ice application to the area.
There are a number of trigger point tools for sale (a golf or tennis ball works well) for hard-to-reach areas like your back and shoulder blades. You can lie on the ball and roll around on it until you find “the spot” and then sink you body weight onto the ball. These are also great to use if you have painful thumbs or fingers. After all, if you have pain in your hands or thumbs you don’t want to use them to release trigger points, do you?
If you prefer to use painless approaches to release trigger points…
This is a gentle, painless approach to releasing tightness and pain in soft tissues and joints through the use of positioning techniques. Read more about it here.