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Learn to relieve your own muscle tightness and pain using Trigger Points

Jan 31 2005
During the course of my massage practice I have encountered many clients with varying degrees of muscle tension and pain be it chronic or more intermittent. Some of them have related stories of their friends and family, with similar conditions, who cannot afford regular restorative massage, namely Neuromuscular (Trigger Point) Therapy which can relieve this condition. Most believe that nothing can be done about certain muscular aches and pains and that it is something that they just have to live with. They are not aware that it really is possible to stop this muscle pain, remove the tightness and restore the normal tone of the muscle and other soft tissue. Besides pain relief, a whole list of benefits can be enjoyed from soft tissue restoration. Info regarding this can be found in the mission section of my website. Of course the quickest way to get relief is to find a Massage Therapist who offers this treatment. Although one treatment will bring you relief, you generally will need several to restore tone in a particular area e.g. neck and shoulders or lower back. The next best thing is to do it yourself. It might not be exactly the same as that of a TP therapist but it will give you relief if done correctly. Once you have learnt how to use it, the more you use it the better you will be at it and the better you will feel.

Today I will talk about the causes of tightness and pain and how to find a trigger point and treat it. For a description on how it begins go to the tightness & pain section. Now I will explain what a trigger point is and how do you find one. First find an area on your body that has some pain and/or tightness. A common area where almost everyone has some pain is between the shoulder blades (Rhomboids). Reach over your shoulder and with your fingers, press repeatedly on the inside and along the edge of the shoulder blade. If you cannot reach it have someone do it for you. When you find a pain area, continue circling until you find the most painful spot which sometimes causes sensations in other, apparently unrelated areas. This is a trigger point and it is usually found on the taut band within the affected muscle and when activated, it becomes painful and tightens the muscle that it ‘controls’. Sometimes you will need to palpate a while before you find since all points are not in the superficial layer. You also may have noticed that as you press on a TP, not only is it painful itself but it also causes pain and sensations in the surrounding areas - this is called referred pain. That is a characteristic of a TP. Now you might understand why when you have a TP on your shoulder, it could cause a headache.

Now that you have found the TP what do you do with it? Ensure that you are dead center on it (the most severe pain), make sure you are comfortable in this position and then apply gentle pressure and hold for a few minutes. Of course you will feel some pain, but it will diminish as the seconds go by. It might help if you take deep breaths and then breath out slowly while you are doing this. Take note of the intensity of the pain before and after you applied pressure. Now raise your finger off the point and then press around again to find its dead center. The pain will still be there but will probably be less than before. Continue this process as many times over hours, days or weeks until you get to a stage of relief.

TIP: If you find it difficult to reach over your shoulder and hold the point, try placing a tennis ball or a small firm rubber ball on the floor and with your back on the floor over it, roll around on it gently until you find the TP. Then rest the weight of your body on it and hold for as long as is comfortable.

I hope this helped introduce you to Trigger Point and brought you some relief of tension and pain in a common problem area. I would love to hear how it worked for you, or if you have any questions regarding this approach.

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