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Trigger Points and Self Massage Therapy

The purpose of our articles at Optimum is to provide our clients with an accurate understanding of certain topics in areas such as health, nutrition and exercise. Personally, when I hand out articles I want each client to tell at least 5 of their friends. That way there are at least 6 people who will have a great understanding of that topic. The topic of this article is on trigger point and self massage therapies, and I have found a high percentage of my clients have benefited from this form of massage therapy.

There are many different types of stretching, this includes dynamic, static, passive, active and PNF to name a few. However do you sometimes feel that these types of stretches never really relieve your pain? Matt wrote a great article last month on hamstring tightness and the relationship to pelvic stability and although we encourage stretching, sometimes it just doesn’t address the core issue going on within the body.

I want to introduce to you the topic of ‘Trigger Point’. A Trigger Point can be defined as a hyper-irritable point or ‘knot’ within a tight band of muscle. The cause can be attributed to a number of factors such as a muscular strain, poor technique in exercises, working or sleeping habits and poor posture. A problem that I have also come across is when a spinal injury (e.g. degeneration, compression) is causing further pain due to the nerves supplying the muscle becoming more irritable. Therefore, if these trigger points and muscle imbalances are not addressed initially they will become worse and inhibit progression of certain strength exercises.

So what can be done?

A technique that I regularly use to great effect is ‘ball massage therapy’. This style of massage is EASY and CHEAP because all you need is either a tennis ball or a hard massage ball (Ask us where to get them!). A common area to find referred pain is in the lower back, which has occurred through poor posture, poor lifting techniques or even sitting down too much. The diagram below (Fig 1) depicts some trigger points located in the Gluteus Medius which can be massaged to relieve low back pain. However this same principle can be applied to every muscle throughout the body.

Here are some tips on how you can use Ball Massage Therapy in your own Home:

• Talk to an Exercise Physiologist at Optimum and locate certain Trigger Points

• Place the ball between yourself and either the floor or wall, apply a gentle pressure to the area for a period anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes.

• It should feel like a ‘good pain’, not extremely painful. If it is too painful you are either pushing too hard or your ball is too hard. Try swapping for a softer tennis ball, however the density and feel of massage balls works much better in the end.

After a while the area will ‘release’ and the ‘good pain’ will reduce. This is the muscle relaxing and stretching so move onto another area and repeat.

This can be done every day and will aid not only in relieving muscle soreness but prevent the potential of future Trigger Point development.

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