Trigger Points Self-Care:
What they are, and what you can do about them
By Erika Mueller, LMT
It is very common to see clients who experience regular headaches. Many times a headache is related to tight shoulder and neck muscles, and very often found in those neck and shoulder muscles are trigger points. Working with trigger points is a great way to help relieve some of the discomfort and pain caused by them.
Being aware of trigger points and learning some simple ways to treat them can literally safe you a headache.
A trigger point is a highly irritable localized spot, ranging in pain, that when pushed may or may not refer pain elsewhere in the body. In other words, those little knob like bumps and lumps that hurt really bad when pushed. Trigger points have several causes ranging from poor posture, an injury sustained in a fall or accident, or overexerted/stressed muscles.
Trigger point therapy is a technique that involves the applying of pressure to tender spots found in muscle tissue in order to relieve pain and dysfunction associated with them.
Sometimes trigger points can cause discomfort in another part of your body. This is known as referred pain. Some examples of referred pain are:
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Sinus pain
- Muscle spasm
- Joint pain
- Compressed nerves that result in numbness or tingling.
Because it is so important to share tips and information that can help us create balance within our lives here are some that you can utilize.
- There are charts that map out referred pain patterns for trigger points, use these to help find the trigger point that could be eliciting some pain in a region.
- When you find a trigger point in your muscle begin by stretching the area.
- Apply heat to the effected area to help generate circulation.
- Make sure you are getting enough magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium for normal muscle function.
- Self-massage is very helpful, use slow deep strokes on the affected area, massage with short repeated strokes, and aim at a pain scale of 7 out of 10.
To decrease the likelihood of developing trigger points take deep breaths throughout your day. Taking deep breaths will elicit a sense of relaxation within your mind and body. Receiving regular massage is a valuable way to prevent trigger points from developing by easing over used and stressed muscles. Massage elicits the rest and relaxation that is vital to muscle function.
For more information on trigger points refer to:
The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook
Your self-treatment guide for pain relief
Claire Davies, and Amber Davies