What is a trigger point?
You know when you feel like you have a great big knot in your back that needs a really good rub or a poke? Well chances are that is a trigger point. Usually very painful, requires you to almost be squashed by the pressure of an elbow or a thumb, thats a trigger point! Usually they are taut bands of muscles or other soft tissues that can cause localised pain or referred pain.
If you have ever had massage you will be familiar with these – especially the old elbow in the bum! As a masseuse, I promise there is a very good point for causing that much discomfort! By apply pressure over them, it can help
them to ‘switch off’ and release tension.
The cause is a little unknown but the general thinking now is that they are caused by overuse of the muscles in that area, being underused, or could also be caused by contracted muscle fibres as a result of damage or trauma to the area.
Other factors that could lead to trigger points include stress – causing tension, inadequate diet, certain illness and too much exercise without enough rest.
What can you do about them?
First up, you could always a book a massage, whereby the therapist will aim to decrease the tension in the surrounding tissues. Acupuncture and cupping can also help with stubborn spots. For more tendonus areas, acupuncture may be more beneficial. This can be a very effective way of treating them especially if they are in hard to reach spots and very sore. It’s also helpful if they are causing referred pain, as the other spots can also be worked on to give you better relief and outcome.
However, sometimes a trip to see a therapist isn’t doable, and of course self management is always better than relying on someone else. So what to do at home then? This is where the balls come in!
Balls, rollers and elbows
When pressure is applied to the trigger point, this helps the muscles to relax and increased blood flow to the area. Once the muscles has released, the area should be less painful and achy but also easier to move around. Spikey ball, trigger point balls and foam rollers all aim to achieve the same thing. The smaller the trigger point however, the more precise the pressure needs to be. This is where a trained therapist might be a better option.
A therapist can apply much more pressure than you would to your self. Trigger points will also be grouped together so you are likely to find you have 5 or 6 in very close proximity to each other. A foam roller is best used for larger areas such as your thighs. Balls may be better for areas such as lower legs, in the waist, along the spine and around the shoulders.
If you are going try it by yourself- remember to breath!!! Breath holding will make you tense and this is the opposite to what we are trying to do!
Finally you could try our new Trigger Point Pilates class. Aimed to combine the principles and stability of Pilates with the release of trigger points, The class will aim to stabilise and strength your core muscles whilst using the balls and rollers to help you release tension.
Book your class every Saturday 10:45am with Petra HERE: