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Debilitating Little Buggers
Trigger Points weaken muscles, reduce range of motion, and drain endurance. While you may not have heard of them, you’ve experienced them. Everyone who’s had muscle pain and stiffness has experienced Trigger Points. They are the tender spots or knots that grow in your muscles. They’ve been written about in thousands of articles in medical journals and authoritatively described in The Trigger Point Manual 2nd ed., by David G. Simons, M.D., Janet G. Travell, M.D., and Lois S. Simons, P.T.
You’ve seen the long-term effects of untreated Trigger Points in the elderly, their bodies twisted and reactions slowed. Gradually, over many years, knotted muscle fibers reduce people’s range of motion and sap their strength until they have trouble getting out of a chair. Decrepitude is thought of as part of the normal aging process. When caused by Trigger Points, which it usually is, it’s preventable. Trigger Points are the most easily treatable significant muscle problem that you’re certain to face.
"Trigger Points are the most easily treatable significant muscle problem that you’re certain to face."
Medical doctors believe Trigger Points form naturally as a result of muscle abuse. Over and under use of muscles causes the ultra thin fibers that make-up muscles to tangle into the tiny knots that are Trigger Points. The knots cause muscles to shorten and tense. Trigger Points are of two types: latent and active. Both cause all the muscle dysfunctions described above but only active Trigger Points spontaneously emit pain. Active triggers are relatively rare but everyone suffers latent ones. While Trigger Points appear naturally, they also disappear naturally when your muscles are stretched.
Here’s the rule: elongating muscles removes Trigger Points. Gentle natural stretching that’s part of normal daily activities eliminates most small triggers. Yoga, Pilates, and fitness classes resolve many of the more stubborn ones. Unfortunately, the toughest Trigger Points persist and require a more precise controlled stretch that comes from pressing directly on the muscle. This form of massage, known as trigger point therapy, elongates the muscle and removes the knot.
Do it Yourself Trigger Point Massage
The good news is that trigger point therapy is easy to do. With a Little?le knowledge and the right massage tool you can restore muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance to your own body. You can remove all your latent Trigger Points simply by pressing them. Ninety-percent of trigger point therapy is just pressing muscle tissue. You can tell you’ve hit one when the spot you’ve compressed is exquisitely tender. Stay with it for about five breaths or until the pain subsides.
Yes, Trigger Points are in you. If you want to improve muscle performance and avoid the physical frailty of old-age, you have to get them out and keep ge?getting them out. Fortunately, it’s easy. Just press them and they’re gone. Doing so, improves the way you look, feel, and perform.
In Good Health,
Self Massage for Athletes
Rich Poley JD, MS is author of Self-Massage for Athletes, leads self-massage workshops, trains and practices law in Boulder, Colorado. Visit www.SelfMassageForAthletes.com.
© 2007 Rich Poley. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with Permission
By preventing injuries, self-massage may be the best way for active people to stay active. By best, I mean most effective and least costly.
If you’re an active person, you run the risk of suffering two types of injuries: acute and overuse. An acute injury is an injury from a single cause such as a collision or a twist. An overuse injury occurs over time and results from repetitive micro trauma to your tissues.
Acute injuries are becoming less common while overuse injuries are occurring with greater frequency among athletes and active people. That’s because younger people, the kind that take excessive risks in sports, are exercising less often, and older people who are likely to be more cautious are exercising more frequently. Let’s take a closer look at overuse injuries and see how they can be avoided.
Overuse injuries, also known as repetitive motion injuries, result from using the same muscle groupover-and-over-again causing repetitive micro trauma in muscle tissues to accumulate. If the repetitive motion continues day after day without allowing your muscles to sufficiently recover, the trauma grows bigger and bigger. And then, one day, the muscle doesn’t work or radiates pain. You’re injured. Ouch! You’re out of action for days, weeks, or maybe months.
While massage therapy is an effective way to reduce your likelihood of injury, self-massage is arguably even more effective. That’s because self-massage is handier, it’s there when you need it. A professional massage therapist can’t be present every time a muscle tightens up any more than a professional chef can be present every time you get hungry. Self-massage also has the advantage of putting you in touch with yourself. No matter how it’s delivered, though, massage is an effective way to prevent injury.
Massage speeds recovery after exercising and reduces muscle soreness
Massage improves flexibility
Massage identifies weaknesses in muscle tissue
Massage catches injuries when they’re small
Massage improves circulation
Massage improves health by strengthening the immune system
Exercise leaves you weaker in the short term, not stronger. It’s only in the period following your workout that your muscles are allowed to recover that they grow stronger. By speeding recovery after workouts, massage reduces your chances of injury.
Massaging muscles warms them, making them more flexible, almost fluid. Fluid muscles are happy muscles, and happy muscles are less likely to be injured.
Massaging your muscles puts you in touch with them in a way that provides valuable information about how they feel and whether they need rest.
The Smaller the Better
Massage lets you identify muscle problems while they’re still small. As the philosopher Lao Tzu observed 3,000 years ago, “the biggest problem in the world could have been solved when it was small.” Most sports injuries start as small imperceptible weaknesses and grow into large overuse injuries. Massage helps repair them before they have a chance to grow into full-fledged injuries.
Massage Releases Trigger Points
Massage improves circulation in two ways, one is obvious, the other is not. Trigger points are tiny knots that form in the ultra-thin fibers that make up muscles. Everyone suffers the effects of trigger points. These knots impede circulation which impairs the strength of muscles, decreasing performance and making you more susceptible to injury. Massage releases trigger points. Because it takes more intense pressure to release trigger points, it is important to use a massage tool like the Knobble® II or Backnobber® II.
Clinical tests show that when massage is received at least twice a week for thirty minutes, it strengthens the immune system and reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Thus, massage improves mood and health. When your spirits are high and health is good, you’re less likely to get injured.
Easy to Learn
Self-massage may be easier to learn than you imagine. The new book Self-Massage for Athletes presents a simple but powerful new system for learning self-massage. With the self-massage-for-athletes system of massage, you can learn massage in about an hour. Or you can take classes, watch a DVD or ask a massage therapist to teach you a few basic strokes. In any event, self-massage is easy to learn and simple to do.
Self-massage is a low cost, highly effective way to prevent overuse injuries. Try it, your body will thank you for it and you’ll learn to feel better fast.
© 2007 Rich Poley. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with Permission