January 27th, 2011 §
Yesterday, right before I had to leave for work, the lower, left side of my back was real achy. I knew I had some trigger points, but I didn’t have time to massage them out, so I took some pain reliever. When I got to work I felt very hampered by my back as I moved through the various tasks. My back really hurt – it was distracting, and annoying. I kept waiting for the pain relief from the Aleve. It never arrived. The trigger points were too deep in the muscle for me to work them out with my finger tips. Believe me, I tried.
It was late when I got home. My back was bothering me. Nothing had changed. It wasn’t any worse and it wasn’t any better. I had a little supper.
Then I grabbed the theracane and started working out the knots.
After some deep massage to the trigger points I gave it a rest and took care of some things at home (like running a load of laundry). It was time to put the dogs out before my shower and while I waited I used my knobble to work some more on the knots that had made the last several hours a lesson in pain tolerance. I decide it was a good night for an epsom salt bath. By the time I was pulling on my jammies, my back felt pretty good.
What had I done during the day that brought out the worst in my back?
What quick fix did I try to get rid of it?
Aleve. It didn’t do a thing.
What did I do that night to bring relief?
Trigger point massage!
It works. Drug free relief.
I like that.
When I woke up this morning. Zero back pain. Zero.
January 25th, 2011 §
There are numerous muscular stresses that activate trigger points. When the muscles are not warm and ready to respond, an annoying trigger point can develop with any sudden movement. It could possibly be one or numerous troublesome trigger points as the muscles react to the event. It can happen with a simple trip over your own two feet. An actual fall can activate trigger points throughout the body. Often there is a sense of muscle soreness, a kink, or a twist when the pain is actually the result of trigger points embedded in the muscle. This is often over looked, even though self treatment with simple massage can speed recovery.
Chronic trigger points can be a sign that physical adjustment is due or it will be a constant battle to release the resulting muscular tension. Bad posture while sitting at a desk or when driving in the car can create prolonged stress on muscles in the back and shoulders. Lack of proper form when exercising can activate trigger points. Muscles expected to work when “cold” can knot up. All trigger points can impede progress.
Lastly, the not-to-be-forgotten and ever notorious emotional stress can send muscles into a trigger point tea party. Yes, emotional stress, that one is the hardest for me to work on. I have a classic stoic temperament. Probably a result of my wonderful Finnish heritage. There are moments when I can literally feel stress tightening the muscles of my neck, moving into my shoulders and down my arms. I need to work on keeping my arms relaxed.
When trigger points develop it feels like a “knot” under the skin.
For people like my husband, these knots come seldom, but go easily with pressure applied following simple massage techniques. When he fell last spring and fractured his ankle, he developed trigger points in the arms, shoulders, back, legs, and feet. The knots in the arms and back were easily released. Soon after that, the shoulder trigger points relaxed, but the lower legs and feet were troublesome. These knots took months, but once released, they have not returned.
For people like me, it is more of a chronic condition.
For more than ten years I suffered with muscular pain that left me in a constant state of tiredness, forcing me to adjust my plans way too many times.
I release trigger points every day and yet, I develop trigger points every day too.
Most of these muscles knots disappear, never to be found again, but too many knots redevelop. I have become acutely aware of putting stress on my muscles. I avoid overuse by training carefully and taking my time when I exercise. I have become very aware of my posture and probably over check that my shoulders are held in proper alignment with my hips. I try to wear clothing that will keep my muscles warm (temperatures have been in the single digits lately). I routinely stretch my muscles. These steps have given me a sense of being capable once again. I feel great. I didn’t know it was possible to feel this good again.
I have released hundreds of trigger points since learning about them and that has changed my life.
Now, I work on probably 10 to 20 trigger points every day. Massage helps. Improving posture helps. Stretching helps. It all helps. By doing all this and checking daily for the troublesome trigger points I have had a great deal of relief from the pain associated with the waste products carried by the lymph fluid that accumulates in the muscle fibers. This part has been incredible to say the least. Trigger points slow if not block metabolic waste in the muscles. I did not know anything about this before, but I now know the joy of getting rid of it. The blockages where waste accumulates made me feel swollen, sore, and tired. The waste includes nerve irritants which create and prolong pain. Blood cannot travel effectively through the affected tissue. The muscle may even seem to freeze in a painful contraction with numerous trigger points developing making use of the muscle difficult.Trigger point massage releases the knot, moves the blood in and the lymph fluid moves out. The first step in healing painful muscles is understanding trigger point pain.
Learning about trigger points has changed my life.
Yet, I dream of the day they all disappear. I am a testament to this process. I got my life back. I can make plans. I am living with a sense of gratitude for this process every day. If you suffer from any muscular pain, I hope something like trigger point massage works as well for you as it did for me.
January 15th, 2011 §
My mother had been complaining that her favorite shoes were hurting her feet. The painful problem area was on the outside of her foot, near her pinky toe. It was distressing for her. She has never had any problems with them before. The only limits she puts on her shoes is a preference for lower heels.
“Perhaps the tech that does the nail clinic at the senior center next month will spot something,” she hoped.
My mother has had both hips replaced (with great success) and as those in her position will know, afterwards you shouldn’t pull your foot up across your thigh. It makes inspecting your own feet difficult. So when she was at the house, I inspected her feet for her and then, after seeing nothing visibly wrong, I checked the muscles in her feet for trigger points.
I found numerous tender trigger points around her toes, across the ball of her foot, in her arch, and up her ankle into the calf and shin. I worked them out for her. She is fortunate that, unlike me, her trigger points relax easily. My trigger points return regularly like the unwanted pests that they are, where as her trigger points relax after a simple massage and stay gone. (This isn’t to say that there wasn’t the initial pain from pressure on the trigger point.)
I gave her a golf ball to use to continue work on her foot muscles at home. She was going to roll it under her foot while standing in a doorway or sitting on the sofa – so she wont lose her balance. She also followed up with foot soaks.
Good news! Last week I was at her apartment and I checked her feet for trigger points. None to be found in the feet. There were a few yet to be found in the muscles of her legs that she is massaging with the golf ball held in her hand, this doesn’t tire her fingers out as much.
She is happily back in her favorite shoes again.
Isn’t that nice? I’m so happy trigger point massage gave her relief from pain. It’s a simple, but possibly life changing, tool for most everyone.
Related posts: Epsom salt soaks release ankle and foot pain, A quick fix for tired feet
November 24th, 2010 §
I know every good bathroom in town. I couldn’t finish a shopping trip without visiting one of them. It was not possible to completely empty my bladder…for years. Yes, I had the embarrassing problem of urinary frequency. I thought it had something to do with having babies and that it simply got worse with age. We hear a lot about this problem in television advertising, in particular for women. There is a pill available to fix it and a pad to contain it. But the life changing moment came when I read that there are trigger points that have a direct effect on the ability to maintain urinary control. I was grateful (once again) to find it truly worked.
Releasing the trigger points I found below my belly button were my fix.
I don’t worry about “accidents” when enjoying good belly laugh or worry about making it to the next bathroom when traveling any more. I seem to finally have a normal relationship with the bathroom now.
I mean, who knew that a few trigger points in the abdomen, below the belly button, were affecting my ability to completely relieve my bladder?
The simple fix of trigger point massage is worth checking into for any one experiencing any degree of incontinence.
I routinely check my abdomen for these nasty muscle knots for I have no intention of regressing here. Age is not a factor, and childbirth wasn’t the cause.
I have had numerous problems solved with the simple massage release of trigger points.
I am a true believer in this easy method of self treatment. After all, it is harmless to massage away a muscle spasm! The continued relief I experience from primary and secondary issues has changed my life. When I discover a trigger point, I know it isn’t helping anything. I always try to massage it away. This problem is crossed off my list. I wonder how well those nice bathrooms in town are being maintained? I haven’t been there to check them out since I learned about the effect trigger points could have on my bladder control.
Trigger point release = Freedom!
October 25th, 2010 §
We grow up thinking if it hurts, don’t touch it, leave it alone. In trigger point therapy, where it hurts is usually where you find problematic muscle knots. To release the knot you have to massage it away. You have to touch it! It can really hurt, but it’s a manageable level of pain. After all, it is only for a few seconds at a time. The pain is somewhat similar to the pain from a bruise. It is relevant to how large the trigger point is and where it is located.
I have been working on trigger points for over two years.
I have relieved my sciatica and lower back pain, besides numerous other problems with my muscles and my husband’s muscles too. I am used to the pain and the tenderness. I must have worked on hundreds of trigger points in my muscles by now. My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t get so many. But when he gets achy he does ask me to check his muscles for trigger points. (I can locate them quicker than he can.) He handles the pain of this therapy okay. For example, he will sit in the recliner with the foot rest up and I will check his knees or feet for trigger points. I’ll press down on a little spasm with my knobble or my finger tips. He will raise up on his elbows, grimacing. Unfortunately, I chuckle most every time. I know I shouldn’t. I can’t help it. He tolerates the pain and my giggles because massaging away trigger points works so well.
As a trigger point is worked out, the pain dissipates.
Sometimes it is immediate relief. Sometimes it takes a few days. Sometimes the knot returns and you have to repeat treatment. The best part is it is so simple. It is a wonderful self treatment method for knotty muscles. It is such an easy way to maintain the feeling of being limber and agile.
For me, the idea “too tender to touch” doesn’t really matter any more.
October 24th, 2010 §
I‘ll never forget this woman who was working at a local lingerie department. Her arms were so swollen and her hands were so puffy that her tiny, slim watch was nearly embedded into her wrist. It appeared as though the skin was growing up and around her watch. She would need to flex her wrist just to read the watch face. It looked painful. My arms ached too. It seemed they were headed in the same direction as hers and I didn’t know why.
I also had an indent in my arm at the wrist. It wasn’t to the same degree as the lingerie lady, but it wasn’t going away. There was so much fluid trapped in my arms that they appeared bloated and tight. It was uncomfortable wearing a watch and I would never ever consider putting on a bracelet. I wouldn’t want to call attention to my fat arms, and I was coping with crazy over sensitive skin.
The pain in my arms trumped their bloated appearance.
It wasn’t too long after seeing the lingerie lady that I learned about trigger points. The worst trigger point was near the inside bend of my arm and was as big as a marble. I could follow the muscle down to the wrist where there was another good sized knot. Between these two were numerous others stretched across the entire forearm with a tender large muscle spasm about midpoint. Dragging my finger tips firmly from wrist to elbow felt like a bumpy cobblestone road. I had never noticed this happened to my arms until I started looking for trigger points.
As I became better at trigger point massage the pain in my arms greatly eased.
I think the lymph fluid moved out, taking a lot of waste away, as should happen. Trapped waste creates pain. Aches and pain in my arms no longer kept me awake at night. I continued to work on these muscles, eliminating the knots one by one, day by day. Soon I noticed even more positive results. The skin was loose and fluid and the muscle seemed relaxed in comparison to before. My arms were looking more “normal.”
But the trigger points kept returning. I had to be vigilant.
I was focused on my left arm. The largest trigger point near my elbow would get smaller one day and then grow bigger the next. It was pretty tender. It was during this time that I read something that made me think I may have a low magnesium level. Apparently there needs to be a good balance of calcium and magnesium for muscles to contract and release. I started taking a magnesium supplement. I also added epsom salt to my bath water for transdermal transfer in case I wasn’t able to absorb magnesium from my diet. This seemed to be the most helpful in maintaining my muscles once the trigger point was released. The pain was essentially gone. I was so enthused that I made a super saturated salt solution with the epsom salts to rub into my arm as an extra measure.
I continued working away on that left arm. It was feeling very smooth when I ran my fingers along the muscle. Then one day I opened the newspaper on the coffee table. Both arms were extended in front of me.
That’s when I noticed my left arm looked significantly smaller than my right. It was freaky.
I ran upstairs to get a tape measure. My left wrist measured 7 1/4 inches and my right measured 8 inches! My left forearm measured 1 1/2 inches smaller than the right. I thought back to the day before when I was in town. I kept pushing the sleeves of my jacket up on both arms and the left one kept dropping down. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but this must be why it kept slipping.
The next day I showed my husband my arms. If my husband could see it, it must be noticeable. He could see it. Later that week I showed my mom. She caught her breath and said I better get busy working on the right arm. Of course I did.
Massage, magnesium and epsom salt super solution.
Today, my arms match up much better now, the right is about 1/4 inch bigger than the left at the forearm but both wrists match. The sleeves of my jacket drop on both arms now. My arms are actually smaller. I wear a watch now when I go out. There is a smooth transition from arm to hand. No dent. No puffiness. My arms look normal now. But more importantly, they feel great.
It took some time, but I eventually released most of my trigger points. Consequently, I said bye, bye to the bloat and the pain. Work on my arms is ongoing. As always, I continue to stretch daily. I don’t think I will ever be rid of all my trigger points, but I know how to manage them now.
Related posts: Reshaping your legs through trigger point massage
October 22nd, 2010 §
Yesterday I noticed an odd lump on my knee. Having just completed a two mile session on the treadmill, I was taking the time for a good long stretch on the Total Gym – using it more or less like an incline bench. During this “hang” time I check for any points of pain or a sense of imbalance between opposite muscles (does the right thigh seem to relax as much as the left, and so on).
This time, I thought my right side (my weaker side from too many years of sciatica and lower back pain) seemed “shorter” than my left. A sure sign that I might find some trigger points knotting up my leg muscles on that side. But, when I sat up I forgot all about that because my eye was drawn immediately to the lump on my left knee. It was the size of a purple grape. Oh yeah, now that’s a yellow flag alert to hit the ol’ eye balls! Here I had been stretching and being so careful in my mental “assessment” when I probably should have just looked at my legs. I hadn’t noticed any knee pain during my run. Was this swelling from a trigger point that I have been missing?
I carefully pressed down on the puffy lump, searching with my finger tips for the very familiar tender knot that signals that I have another nasty muscle spasm. God knows I don’t want any knee problems! Is this a sign that the knees are rebelling? It took a bit more time, but I found it deep within the muscle of that lump. Sometimes trigger points can imped fluid from moving effectively through the muscles and therefore create a swollen appearance in the area. Toxic waste can eventually accumulate and that very often leads to pain. I do not want pain. I did some trigger point massage right then there and also several times afterwards throughout the day.
This morning I am pleased to report that the swelling is gone.
Absolutely gone! I know that it was my chance to circumvent impending knee pain. It worked. I ran my two miles. Afterwards, I did not find a single lump or bump in my knees. I now include a visual check of my muscles after my run when I stretch.
Trigger point massage isn’t a secret, but it is my little secret in maintaining pain free knees.
I lived over ten years with muscles stiff and frozen from an abundance of knots.
I lived the pain of trigger points. I will never let them get a hold of me again. When I get a muscle knot, I want it gone! I need to be vigilant in managing my trigger points. Massaging that trigger point (and every single trigger point I find) was crucial to preventing pain in the future. It is the critical factor that makes my return to running actually enjoyable. It is oh so well worth the time. Self treatment of my trigger points with simple massage methods is the number one reason I haven’t had any soreness or stiffness that shuts me down.
I can barely believe it, but next week I will be at the point in my plan to increase my run by another mile. That is my goal, three miles a day. It is amazing I am almost there. I worry a bit, because more mileage equals more stress, but I am excited to see how it goes.
Related posts: Managing my trigger points keeps me limber
October 6th, 2010 §
I suffered way too long with progressive muscle aches and pains that not only affected my ability to sleep but also my ability to get through the day. The worst pain was the combination of sciatica with the lower back ache. For more than ten years I dealt with it.
Thankfully I stumbled upon a book that changed my life and after learning about trigger points I discovered a big one. I worked it out and had an immediate release of my lower back and sciatica. Freedom from the pain was mind boggling. It was just plain crazy. If I hadn’t experienced it I wouldn’t have believed it myself. It took much longer to strengthen and trust my muscles after so much time had passed, but two years into it I feel like my former self. I even just started to run again. Amazing. Going from taking one step at a time down the stairs to a short run on the treadmill.
I learned all I could about trigger points and changed my life by being diligent in massaging these annoying muscle spasms. Actually I am still learning. I have also discovered more ways (like epsom salt baths) to effectively control and manage my muscles so I can now have a full and productive day once again.
If you have been suffering with sciatica, consider trigger point therapy, maybe it will be your answer too.
Related posts: Exercise
October 4th, 2010 §
I just got back from a trip to the east coast, logging over 3000 miles in the car. My daily routine doesn’t include much driving, let alone sitting for 8 hours. I am so glad it doesn’t because of the nasty trigger points that popped up during the trip.
The first muscle knots I noticed had developed along my collarbones.
I think either I slumped my shoulders somewhat during long periods in the car or I tensed muscles across the chest when dealing with high volumes of traffic, or it was a mix of both. No matter what, I had some new areas in my muscles that needed the tension released. I found several knots right against the collarbone. Of course any trigger point next to the bone is sharp and painful. They usually are a sign of a larger trigger point located more in the “apex” of the muscle. I eventually located the largest offender a couple of inches in from the collarbone. I spent some time pressing all of them out whenever we stopped at one of those convenient service stations along US 90.
Once I realized the collarbone and chest area were problems for me I made a conscious effort to pull my shoulders apart and back. It was a small, but very focused stretch. It really helped keep my posture in check.
Stretching is very important for me in managing my trigger points. It is the first method I used to combat the trigger points that tend to develop when driving for long periods of time.
Obviously when driving, I only did subtle, simple stretches – no torso twists. Although once stopped and out the car, it was a great opportunity for me to do something more challenging for all the stressed muscles.
Who doesn’t like a great stretch after sitting in the car for some time?
I took it up a notch and took the time to recognize and release any tightness from the drive. I would also mentally check myself for muscle tension. Granted, when trying to change lanes while driving into an unfamiliar area of Boston at night, the tension is unavoidable. But whenever possible, I would breath deep and consciously relax.
Deep breathing to keep muscles relaxed – my second method I employed to manage trigger points in the car.
I tend to develop trigger points easily in muscles which are kept tense/constricted too long. I have learned that to avoid the pain of trigger points I must consciously relax my muscles. My body responds very well to this and I have gotten better at noticing the muscle tension and releasing it.
Consistently employing these methods made the trip so enjoyable.
I didn’t experience any muscle fatigue from traveling and at each stop was able to be fully present instead of locked inside a body riddled with pain as I was two years ago. I am deeply grateful that I learned about the self treatment of trigger points and no longer suffer.
I hope this is helpful to anyone who has been suffering with stressed and painful muscles and that they also can find the same pain relief.
September 14th, 2010 §
My right leg was giving me all kinds of problems.
Everything from aches and pains to numbness with pins and needles. I assumed it was sciatica. The whole leg, from hip to foot, was driving me crazy. I tried stretching and flexing, bringing my knee to the chest, but it didn’t help at all. Modified knee bends to build the muscles didn’t help either. Trying to sleep at night was especially difficult. I would shake and turn my leg, trying to find a comfortable position. My lower back pain didn’t help the situation. After the worst nights, I could only get downstairs one step at a time. I didn’t know what to do. It was only getting worse. My leg was becoming more debilitating with time. I had been dealing with “sciatica” for about ten years when I discovered trigger point therapy.
Finally! An answer to my prayers.
I was troubled by muscle knots that impaired my back and leg muscles from functioning as they should. In fact, I was riddled with them. Trigger point therapy immediately released my lower back pain and released my “sciatica.” My muscles still needed time to strengthen, but the pain was gone. Bingo! Tada! Like magic. Since I have learned how to self treat my trigger points I can stretch my lower back and leg muscles and actually have a positive effect on my muscles. I can honestly say it feels good to stretch now. I can do knee bends and feel some strength building. I will never take this for granted. Not every trigger point I have had has released as easily, but that first one made a believer out of me.
I hope to never return to the days of taking the stairs one step at a time.
Today I woke up with a few pins and needles in my foot. I immediately checked my lower back (where your back pants pockets would be positioned) for trigger points.
I found some tender points of muscle spasm.
Pushing back into my finger tips to apply pressure at this site is most effective for me. It is usually an easy release if I have been vigilant over my muscles. For example, I check the trigger point site at my outside knee area, since this was my original source of pain, every day.
I treated the trigger points in my leg and back.
This relieved the pain in my leg. It is how I stay pain free. Whenever some pins and needles pop up…
I am on those muscle knots like bees to honey.