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Triggerpoint Therapy is a special form of massage that works to break up those 'knots' in muscles that are usually the cause of pain and discomfort.
What are triggerpoints? Triggerpoints are knots, lumps or strings of muscle tissue that are the cause of most muscle pain and dysfunction. Some triggerpoints may be obvious to a person in pain but most are not noticed until direct pressure is applied to them by a skilled triggerpoint massage therapist. Often when a triggerpoint has pressure applied to it, it will refer pain to another area. The ones that you feel an immediate sensation with are called active triggerpoints. The triggerpoints that you don't notice until pressure is applied to them are called latent triggerpoints.
Often the area of your body that is in pain is not the cause of the problem but only a symptom. Triggerpoints in other areas of the body are usually found to be the cause of such pain. The body has over 200 pairs of muscles in which triggerpoints can be found.
Triggerpoints can be the cause of sports injuries, chronic pain, depression, muscle tension and fatigue. They are related to diseases such as fibroymalgia and other myofascial (muscle pain) pain syndromes.
Triggerpoints are not the same as Shiatsu or accupressure points which are points along the meridians of the body. They are also different from tenderpoints which are usually 'soft spots' in the muscles that create pain.
Myofascial triggerpoints can also be the cause of emotional distress. When we carry pain around with us all day it requires a lot of energy. Emotions are also locked in muscle tissue that is tight and we often do not know what came first - the intense emotions or the muscle tension. Releasing triggerpoints can also relieve the emotional stress.
Triggerpoints can be the cause of headaches, fibromyalgia, TMJ, insomnia, sciatica, heel pain, muscle strains and many other health conditions.
What causes triggerpoints?
While there is much research and information on triggerpoints, there is not one widely accepted answer. They can begin forming when there is an injury or sustained load on a muscle. Postural distortions in the body can lead to increased strain on a muscle leading to the formation of a triggerpoint.
Repetitive movements can overload muscle. Even though sitting at a desk does not seem like strenuous work, it does require that your muscles be strong enough to hold you up for that amount of time without moving much.
Nutritional deficiencies can also influence the health of your muscles. Tavell and Simmons (two promintent triggerpoint specialists) state that half the patients they treat for chronic pain are found to be lacking in nutrients such as Vit B, Vit C and folic acid as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, mangnesium and potassium. What we eat as well as the things we do that deplete this vital nutrients from our body play into the formation of triggerpoints as well as the healing of triggerpoints.
Treating Triggerpoints.There are a few different methods of treating triggerpoints. I use direct pressure on the exact points to help reduce the pain in the triggerpoint which allows the muscle knot to start relaxing and resume proper functioning.
Because of this thing called muscle memory, it often takes a series of sessions to completely relieve pain caused by triggerpoints.
People going back into the stressful work conditions and sitting at their desks for long periods of time will also usually have to get regular monthly sessions to reduce the effects of their postural habits.
You can also do much for yourself in treating your own triggerpoints by using tools such as the Theracane and also using tennis balls to apply pressure to these specific triggerpoints.
Some common problems that result from triggerpoints are things like frozen shoulder, IT Band Syndrome, Headaches, Back/Neck/Shoulder Pain, Wrist/Arm/Hand problems like carpal tunnel syndrome.
Here are some tools that you might be interested in to start treating triggerpoints by yourself or to learn more about them:
Theracane Massage Tool + Thera-Cane DVD + Manual This Theracane is one of the basic tools for treating triggerpoints. When using one, it is important to use it in a pain free manner until you get more practice using one.
Trigger Point Performance The Grid Revolutionary Foam Roller, Black This enhanced foam roller is great for upper back pain or hip/IT problems.