All our customers come to us with a pain, without understanding trigger point therapy. This means that they expect us to work the area where they are feeling discomfort and fix it, a little like you stubbing your toe and immediately rubbing it.
But the body is a complicated labyrinth of connective tissues. Muscles join with others, tendons connect our bones with muscles whilst ligaments attach bones. One bit of inflammation, strain or tightness in one area can lead to pain in a different area of your body.
The concept of trigger point therapy.
The concept of trigger point therapy is that the pain in one area can cover a problem in another. It is all to do with our body being constructed in a series of pathways, whether these be muscular tendons or energy.
Each element starts in one place and links through attachment to another. We see this in Chinese medicine, examples such as reflexology and acupuncture have built their practice on working one area to see benefits in another.
So by treating the cause of the pain rather than where it ends up, your massage therapist is able to improve your health longer term by taking out the source of your problem.
Dealing with symptoms isn’t the way forward.
Dealing with symptoms rather than to treat where this originates from leads to a faster return of these symptoms as the problem remains unchanged.
This is why clients will often remark on the pain coming and going. Or that it persists well beyond any reasonable healing time. Because the pain is only the symptom and so a treatment plan is needed that involves healing the source.
What is a trigger point?
It’s a tight area. A little like a nodule under the skin. A trigger point is a muscle, or area that is locked down in that contracted format. A collection of tense e.g. muscles which cramp up like a pea.
The specific role of your therapist is to unlock that area. This may be performed in one, or for more deep rooted issues, several sessions. When you release this injury through the application of pressure, it helps the knot relax, and this stimulates a knock on effect in other areas of the body.
Trigger point therapy covers a huge range of complicated pain related issues.
For example, you may have a pain in your neck, this often originates in a tight bicep or shoulder. So if you are under stress and perhaps sit in one position for a lot of the day with very little physical movement, then trigger point treatments will often be the way forward because it gets stuck through hardening fascia in a position which is not natural. When we look at how the body maps, we can see why this type of treatment is effective.
Muscles are made up of sticky fibres, as you can see on the image above. So, when you have one muscle that crosses over another then tightness in one large muscle is strong enough to cause a ripple effect into an interconnected smaller, weaker, muscle. It’s important that you have a massage practitioner who is well trained and understands exactly how the body is constructed from an anatomical perspective, because applying trigger therapy to reduce this negative tension is a specialist skill.
What happens during trigger point therapy?
Your therapist will use the relevant specialist technique to ensure that the tight ‘nub’ releases. It will probably start with applying acupressure and manipulation and then increasing this as the point relaxes and softens. It will probably also include some slow and controlled movement, circulation or rolfing of the area that is affected with your therapist’s fingers and hands is extremely effecting to stretch the structural contraction.
Once the point has relaxed, we’ll often do some special exercises to ensure that you have regained your full movement. Often we can release one area and find a secondary site if the issue is longstanding.
What are the signs I may need trigger point therapy?
If you have a trigger point, it is usually as the result of a stressed or injured muscle. They have contracted. It’s this that is causing you pain and tightness. Often with a resultant loss of flexibility due to stiffness, pain or tension. This physical limitation is a loss of normal function that if not dealt with can lead to further health issues.
What causes trigger points?
There are a number of issues, but below are some of the most common:
*Lack of activity/ deconditioning so blood lymph fluid isn’t moving around properly.
*poor posture and stress bringing on shallow breathing patterns.
*repetitive movements which causes mechanical stress.
*issues with imbalance in the body, e.g. physical problem such as different length legs.
*joint disorders and mobility.
*not enough sleep causing mental contraction and emotional instability/ depression/ anxiety.
You’ll often find that if you have a condition such as arthritis or a bulging disc, then you’ll also have trigger points if you’ve been suffering for a longer period.
A good sign that you may benefit from trigger point therapy is if you’re on some form of medical plan that includes anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants or anti-depressants.
Likewise, if you’re doing sports and on a strengthening programme in the gym, you could be causing a similar kind of strain that will also result in these trigger points. Simply put, you’re trying to improve your health, but you could be training too hard and actually increasing your injury liability.
Please check with your doctor before coming along if you are in any doubt or have concerns.
What is the role of vitamins in trigger point therapy?
Certain vitamins and minerals are important in the physiology of muscles, so without a balanced quantity of these, your muscles and tissues won’t be at optimal health. Diet is also a vital factor in enhancing the way our soft tissue works, so if you can’t add the necessary vitamins through food, do consider supplements as a last resort.
Examples of vitamins that may alleviate muscle and/ or tissue pain are:
*B6 (also great for your immunity)
*B12 (also good for anxiety)
*vitamin C (also helps your immune system)
The minerals calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium are also of nutritional importance so including these or increasing your volume in your diet is also helpful for most people.
How soon will I experience relief?
Most clients regain some balance and therefore pain relief after just one initial therapeutic treatment.
How many sessions will I need?
Whether you will require an ongoing treatment plan depends on your lifestyle. See below some reasons why you would be helped with trigger point therapy and then if you are doing these as a regular part of your ongoing lifestyle, then you would likely need a maintenance plan after you have had your initial sessions.
What causes a trigger point?
Valerie DeLaune has been quoted as saying that if an injury has been around long enough, then a trigger point will form. This means that we are often incredibly effective at helping people with longstanding or chronic conditions.
Trigger points are often misdiagnosed by consultants. For instance, the myofascial layer of our body’s structure can cause pain which mimics nerve entrapment in your neck.
If you’re having problems with a trapped nerve in your neck and medical intervention isn’t proving effective, then you might have been misdiagnosed and just need a few massages along with posture correction advice. The confusion is easy.
It’s also common for clients to come in with an issue they’re not seeking treatment for and to leave with this also being resolved. For instance, if we’re treating your stiff neck, you may find that a joint pain in your wrist also alleviates.
Benefits of trigger point therapy.
Other than all the health benefits we can help with, there is another. Trigger point massage therapy are that we can often work out your pain without needing to put too much pressure on the section of your body where you are feeling the pain.
The science based research behind trigger point therapy.
In the mid-1960s Melzack and Wall introduced a theory which they called, ‘Gate’ which claimed that rubbing could be used as a form of natural medicine. The idea that this could be used to to reduce pain was, at the time, laughable.
Their theory didn’t start to be accepted until the 1970s and 80s, when further pain research had been conducted, that medics began to accept their findings that massage can give relief to pain.
After this, science discovered that we can control our pain via unconscious thought of your mind. This travels down nerves from our brain. This was the start of a firm scientific basis, which is efficacious in the use of complementary therapies in pain management. We could now prove that a client who has sciatica does feel localised pain in her leg even though there is nothing wrong with her leg. It is her lower back that is the issue. We also call this referred pain.
This is why patients suffering from heart complaints, particularly during a heart attack will feel pain down their arm.
And likewise, for clients with fibromyalgia now has an explanation. Because as we move around, our body changes position, and our unexplained pain comes and goes. In different areas.
How do trigger points fit into this research?
The medical world aren’t great at accepting new ideas and concepts and the issue with trigger point massage therapy is that they can only be located by a skilled therapist. Traditional doctors aren’t trained in this and so would struggle to administer the therapy, although new imaging techniques in the last five years means that it’s now possible to visualise trigger points.
What happens after my session?
This is a holistic therapy, so it is not uncommon for us to recommend some exercises for you to do. You’ll also need to drink water to help your system cleanse any damaged tissue that is now in the process of healing. This gentle care of yourself will help your recovery.
Your continued treatment plan (if you need one) may include more of the same, or you may mix positive modalities to protect you in the future. For instance it may involve integrating reflexology practices, or stretch therapy which works a little like yoga.
If you’re interested in booking, you can do so online.