- Stress relief
- Managing anxiety and depression
- Blood pressure control
- Sports-related injuries
- Boosting immunity
- Cancer treatment
So, just what is trigger point massage? Where a Swedish massage uses gentle pressure and long stroking motions, a trigger point massage focuses on specific points, or sensitive areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse (Mayo Clinic). My massage therapist explained that to their touch these points can feel like knots. I also learned that the pain I was feeling in my back and neck actually originated from trigger points a distance from the site of my actual pain. This is called referred pain and is a defining symptom of trigger points.
The drawing below illustrates several muscle fibers within a trigger point. In an example of referring pain, this trigger point would cause a headache over your left eye and sometimes at the top of your head. Research has shown that 75% of the time trigger points are the primary cause of pain. Letter A shows a normal muscle fiber in a resting state. Note how the lines running crosswise are all uniformly spaced. Letter B depicts a knot in a muscle fiber. Note the density of the crosswise fibers in the bulging section. This is what is felt as a knot. Letter C is the part of the muscle fiber that extends from the knot to the muscle's point of attachment to the skeleton. Note the variation of the crosswise fibers in this muscle fiber. These are more widely spaced and overstretched because of the tightness of the fibers in the knot. Put very simply the result is tension and pain (The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, Clair Davies).
The good news is that the pain and tension of trigger points can be helped with massage. With the assistance of a knowledgeable and qualified massage therapist, you can even learn to practice self-applied trigger point massage yourself. An excellent resource for learning more about this therapy is called The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self Treatment Guide to Pain Relief by Clair Davies.
If you're in the DFW area and are looking for excellent massage therapists, Richard and Diane Maas of the Lewisville Massage Therapy Clinic are highly trained, experienced and qualified therapists. Check out their website http://www.lewisvillemassage.com/Therapists.shtml.
I no longer view a massage as a self-indulgent luxury. It's definitely a powerful tool that is helping me take charge of my health and wellness.
illustration from The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, Clair Davies