Most of us have experienced the pain that arrives when you can’t think of anything you have done to cause it, but there it is anyway, trigger point pain, pulsating through your whole body!
Trigger points are usually the result of muscular strains, sprains or trauma.
Trigger point pain can arise when muscle fibers, ligaments, tendons or fascia become weakened, overstretched, or inflamed, and this can create tiny tears in the soft tissue. As the tissue heals it can become knotted and twisted. This creates the issue of less blood flow to those specific areas and that’s when the pain starts to settle in.
Trigger points can feel like hard knots or little round balls in the muscle, they are usually very sensitive to touch.
Sometimes it may take a bit of exploring to find the exact trigger point, while the muscle surrounding them can also be quite tender.
Once you find it, take a deep breath. And note that most muscles and trigger points are paired. A point on the right side of your body likely has a corresponding point on the left side. So it’s best to work both sides.
Of course, one of the best ways to tackle nasty trigger points is to make an appointment with a massage therapist, but there are also many self-therapy tools on the market to help overcome the pain of trigger points.
Here are a couple ideas to help alleviate the intensity in the moment:
- Sometimes taking a hot bath or using an ice pack can help dull the intensity. Listen to your body with temperature. Cold pushes blood away from the point, where as heat will bring blood into the area. A rotation can give the body a flushing feeling and move out any stagnancy.
- A favorite which we have come to love at the Salt cave is the Thera Cane. This tool is extremely popular and is so great for those hard-to-reach trigger points in the upper back, neck, and shoulder blade areas. It helps you easily perform targeted, deep-pressure massage of sore muscles. You can not go wrong with this tool.
- Another great one that you may already have laying around your home is a an old tennis ball. Alternatively, there are companies creating specific RAD balls for trigger point work. They usually range in diameter from 1 inches to 5 inches and come in specific hardness. Depending on the area you are working you may need a harder or softer tool. You can heat them or cool them to use directly on the body to add an extra layer of relief. These helpful mobility tools help you pinpoint your pressure for accurate, relieving massage where you need it most.
Always trust your body to know how much pressure to use.
You want a “good” hurt. Not too deep and not too light. Pause here and take a deep breath into the pressure point, and allow the massage therapist or mobility tool to sink into the muscle. Hold for at least 6-10 seconds and release. Repeat as needed or until you feel the pressure release.
For other self care techniques check out our Massage Self Care post!