Thursday, May 28, 2009

Your pain, gone.

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition

I can't say enough good things about this book. It's not perfect, and it isn't a cure all, but the application of its precepts does wonders on a great many types of pain. Now, if you're bleeding, or have a purple lump the size of a melon, or some other clearly identifiable injury, that's a different story. But otherwise, this book stands a great chance of getting rid of your pain by getting to the source of it. With well over 200 positive reviews on, I got past my initial skepticism, and bought the book. I've never made a better purchase.

The Gist of Trigger Point Therapy

A trigger point is a small, persistent contraction within a muscle, commonly called a knot. Often times these knots, or trigger points, cause pain, sometimes disabling pain, at the point of the trigger point, or more commonly, at points away from the trigger point. Consider a headache. It can be caused by trigger points, or knots, in the neck. So, to get rid of the pain, the point of pain is identified, which leads to a search of probable locations of the culpable trigger point. One trigger point may be the cause, or multiple trigger points may be contributing. Then self-applied massage is applied to the trigger point, each session lasting for about twelve short strokes. Five or six such sessions a day and soon enough the trigger point will release and the pain will be relieved. Sometimes one session will be enough to do the trick, sometimes it can take a few days or weeks. That's it. Simple. From headaches, to a frozen shoulder, to an inexplicably painful toe, all of these and more can often be relieved with self-applied trigger point therapy. It's inexpensive, and easy to do, and so may often be the best first thing to try to rid yourself of most any pain you might have.

The book goes in more depth on what I've said here, and provides diagrams aplenty, so within a short time you can be seeking out your own possible trigger points and finally ridding yourself of some unnecessary pain.

Knee Pain, Be Gone

During a season/semester of ultimate (frisbee) I developed knee pain early on in the season. I didn't have the pain to start the season, and didn't have it after the first couple days of tryouts and practice. But the pain came on by the end of the first week.

It wasn't getting worse over the course of the season, but stayed about the same. I did curtail my efforts at practice, in an effort to heal, but for me it was an odd pain being that it didn't seem to get better with rest, and giving an all-out effort in games didn't seem to make it worse. Throughout the season the pain was sometimes more, sometimes less, but the increase or decrease wasn't obviously connected to more or less activity. Strange.

I chalked the pain up to having spent about six months prior to the season doing little more than sitting in a chair for about 6-8 hours a day, with little to no exercise, and then suddenly practicing and playing hard once the season began. Ultimate (frisbee) requires lots of running.

Yet, this didn't explain the actual source of the pain, but just described the circumstances in which the pain developed. Although, these circumstances of prolonged inactivity followed by intense activity later helped me understand exactly what had been happening with my knees, once I got a hold of The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook.

At mid-season I bought two books, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, and Treat Your Own Knees: Simple Exercises to Build Strength, Flexibility, Responsiveness and Endurance. This second book wasn't the answer for me, but the exercises in it would have helped prior to the season, and might have been useful in conjunction with trigger point therapy, but I never did much with the book once I found that my pain was really due to the trigger points. I also tried knee straps like the one shown in the photo at left, which seemed to provide some relief, but in the end they weren't the answer for me, and I ditched them by season's end once the trigger point therapy proved to be helpful at easing my pain.

So, like I've been telling ya, it was trigger points, or more commonly called "knots" in the muscle, that caused my pain. While sitting for hours on end for several months, my muscles lost their luster, so to speak, and when I started running hard, they didn't react kindly, and these knots, or trigger points developed in the muscles that supported and operated my knees. A common attribute of trigger point pain is that the pain is often (but not always) experienced in a location other than where the trigger points are. So, a headache can be caused by trigger points in the neck, and my own knee pain was caused by trigger points along the front and sides of my thighs.


I've got two other stories about pain I relieved with trigger point therapy. One for so-called plantar fasciitis, or foot pain, the other being a pain in my neck. As this is running long already, I'll share them in future posts.

Until then, you may want to consider getting the book, and I expect you'll be glad you did, if not for your current hope to cure pain, then for other pain you're sure to experience due to trigger points.
Here's a list of tools that are suggested for treatment of some of the trigger points, although many can be treated effectively with supported fingers or sometimes even a knee or elbow:

A lacrosse ball
A tennis ball

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition

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