Scroll down for more

  • SCROLL PAST POSTS for Fitness Programs & Specials


Trigger (Point) Happy

A textbook helped me rid myself of a lifetime of pain. About ten years ago, I borrowed two volumes of a textbook from my then-chiropractor( who now reportedly runs a B&B!) After devouring as much as I could over a weekend, I purchased the books for myself. They are pictured below:

These books, by Dr. Janet Travell and David and Lois Simons, identify trigger points as a common source of referred pain, referred tenderness, and motor dysfunction. These trigger points cause pain, stiffness, and a decreased range-of-motion(ROM.)

The clinical definition of a trigger point is: "a hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band." It's basically a tiny knot in the muscle- and any skeletal muscle can develop them. Trigger points often refer pain to other areas of the body. That is, much of the time, where the knot is located is not where the pain is felt.

In the picture above, you will see that the TrPs in the gluteus medius ( Xs) send pain (the red areas) to the IT band, calf, hamstring, and other parts of the leg and buttocks. On top of this, TrPs can develop satellite TrPs as a result, creating a chain of TrPs throughout your body. If I recall, I discovered key TrPs, when I first examined myself, in my neck, upper back, mid-back, iliopsoas, QL, IT band, glutes, quads... practically everywhere!

The good news is that you don't have to buy the textbooks to find out more. These days, there are multiple sources online, and an excellent workbook that I use and recommend (The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook).

And, in addition to causing musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction, TrPs can cause other symptoms such as headaches and chest pain. TrPs are also often misdiagnosed as other conditions, such as an earache being caused by TrPs in the masseter muscle on the face or angina-like symptoms resulting fro TrPs in the pectoral(chest) muscles.

If you have any undiagnosed and/or unrelieved pain that docs can't seem to figure out, check out TrPs as a possible source. As I previously posted ( Got Foam?), I regularly foam roll and use lacrosse balls and a Back-Knobber to keep my trigger points at bay. I also instruct all my clients how to foam roll, and they receive an introduction to the world of TrPs.

This poor guy is illustrating some of the many TrPs that exist in the back of the upper torso and neck alone! And in our mostly-sedentary lifestyles, trigger points are exacerbated by the sitting and hunched positions many of us employ for long stretches.

So, get up, move, and learn more about trigger points. I am so happy I did- I am now almost always pain-free. And that's a very good way to live.

No comments: