Trigger point therapy is not new. It has been around for many years and is now gaining popularity as more and more people are seeking alternative methods to pain management.
Trigger points are tight muscle tissue and fascia (thin white sheaths that hold and surround our muscle tissue) which cause pain in other areas of the body. For example, a trigger point on your upper back (Trapeziuses) may be the cause of pain in your neck (referral pain). The neck then becomes a satellite trigger point—possibly causing sharp and intense pain or maybe a dull ache in your head. To treat the head or neck pain, pressure would need to be applied to the trigger point in the upper back—not the neck or head, where the pain has manifested.
Figure 1 illustrates just a fraction of the trigger point connections that exist throughout the body. Wherever pain manifests in the body, trigger point therapy is a viable option for relief without the use of medication. In this example, applying pressure to the trigger points (black circles) using a thumb or fingertips, the identified pain (red lines or dots) is relieved. The trigger point is the true source of pain which has manifested along the path of corresponding fascia. Your headache might actually be a “pain in the back!”
Trigger point therapy is a holistic approach to pain management that uses the application of a pressure/release technique on specific areas of the body. This type of massage is interactive—the client uses breath work and helps identify the location and intensity of the discomfort during the treatment. Most clients experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment.
How does it work? With the help of the client, a trained therapist can identify the precise trigger point through a process of elimination. Initially, the pain intensifies as the therapist works closer to the trigger point even though pressure is being applied in a completely different location on the body.
The technician will use the palm of their hand to massage the trigger point area in a circular fashion with medium pressure for about thirty seconds. For the particular exercise illustrated in Figure 1, the client would sit upright or lay in a face up (supine) position. Next, the therapist will use their thumbs to pinpoint the precise trigger point based on the client’s pain intensity and level of pain tolerance. Once the exact trigger point is located, pressure is applied directly on that spot. The client slowly inhales for four to six seconds while the therapist gradually increases pressure from medium to hard. As the client exhales, the pressure is reduced slowly in synchronized rhythm with the slow breathing. After four to six cycles of this, the practitioner will massage the area for about two minutes using the palm of their hand to stabilize the trigger point area.
For intense or chronic pain, sufferers can visit practically any Licensed Massage Therapist to receive trigger point therapy. Doing this on a regular basis can naturally and holistically help manage the pain and stress from past or recent injuries. Learning to perform trigger point therapy on yourself for minor aches and pains is an effective and healthy alternative to medication whether prescribed or over the counter. To learn more, go to http://www.triggerpoints.net.
Mauvis Miller is a Plant Based Nutritionist/Plant Based Chef, Holistic Health Practitioner and Licensed Massage Therapist trained and experienced in Chinese Cupping and Trigger Point Therapy. You can reach Mauvis at 619-414-3381